A Court without Law, by Heinrich Haertle — part 5

Three attorneys for defendants have protested that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg is based on what amounts to ex post facto law, contrary to all Western legal tradition.

“Continuation of the War-Effort of the Allied Nations”
From Freispruch für Deutschland by Heinrich Haertle
Translated by Hadding Scott, 2015

On 26 July 1946 Jackson tries in vain to refute these objections. His excuses convince nobody, since retroactive laws contradict the European legal culture. We can only be thankful to him however for his attempt at justification. That is because the blind zealot in his effluence of verbiage proceeds to a revelation that marks the whole tribunal for present and future:

“The Allies are still technically in a state of war with Germany, although the enemy’s political and military institutions have collapsed. As a military tribunal, this Tribunal is a continuation of the war-effort of the Allied nations” [Nuremberg Trial Proceedings, vol. 19, p. 397]

With that he has in his way ended the legal controversy: the Nuremberg Tribunal is the continuation of the war with the methods of justice.

With this clarification Jackson has at the same time confirmed that the real goals of the trial can only be attained through military force, with a transgression against international law.

While the American chief prosecutor alternately invokes military force and international law, his colleague trained in Marxist dialectic, [General Roman Andreyevich] Rudenko, attempts a manoeuvre before the High Judges during which they are able only spasmodically to maintain their serious faces. On 8 February 1946 Comrade Rudenko asserts that the objections to the violation of the principle nulla poena sine lege lose all meaning in view of this “fundamental, decisive fact: the Charter of the Tribunal is in force and in operation and all its provisions possess absolute and binding force.” (Nuremberg Trial Proceedings, vol. 7, p. 147) 

This Stalinist buffoon thus asserts that the mere existence of a prefabricated charter can retroactively stamp as crimes actions that were never punishable before. Why this bourgeois respect for ancient principles of justice? We are the law; what we command has “absolute and binding force.” La loi, c’est moi![1]

[1]. La loi, c’est moi (I am the law), is a statement apocryphally attributed to Louis XIV. It seems to be well established that the more usual form, L’état, c’est moi (I am the state), is also fictitious, since the statement was supposedly made before parliament in 1655 whereas research has not found that it appeared in print anywhere until 1834, with the publication of Jacques-Antoine Dulaure’s Histoire de Paris. It is a nice twist, however, for Haertle to suggest that Soviet officials behaved like a caricature of a divine-right monarch.

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