Document Analyst's Report

During March I completed the work on the IMT prosecution notes and memos, then covered the initial trial proceedings, the eleven prosecution briefs on count 1 (the "common plan" or conspiracy of the Nazi leaders), and finally began the document books of evidence for count 1. This covered 104 documents and 1124 pages of material. In order to begin adding the evidence documents, the analysis paused for a week to allow the revision of the database to account for four different prosecuting nations (France, UK, UK, and USSR) entering exhibits, with document books identified variously by numbers, letters, and phrases.

A literary flourish: One prosecution note offered a line for use, far outside the usual legal material. It was a quotation from Lord Byron's "Don Juan," on the man who had the "true breeding of a gentleman" but nevertheless was a cut-throat. I expect this was meant to address the fact that some of the defendants had aristocratic backgrounds.

A confusing beginning: While the prosecution case was a marvel of rapid evidence-gathering and analysis-the trial began just seven months after the end of the European war-it was less effective at presenting evidence clearly. In the first days the defense attorneys complained that the prosecution was citing evidence without identifying or presenting it, and the judges quickly agreed, politely instructing the prosecutors to get better organized. Part of the problem was that the prosecution document staff was providing much more material to the press than to the defendants and judges. The prosecutors got their act together within a week, but in the meantime a great deal of material was entered without adequate identification, which poses a problem for document identification and analysis 70 years later.

A familiar phrase: One prosecution document on Hitler's rise is a letter from him to Rosenberg in 1931, complaining that the party paper had published an article that contradicted his strategy to undermine the current government: "May I therefore ask that my own paper will not stab me in the back with tactically unwise articles."

An offer: In early December 1945, with the trial under way, Goering's attorney informed the prosecution that "Goering would like to come out with a far reaching statement taking over the responsibility for his deeds." In return Goering asked that his sentence be death by firing squad rather than hanging; for him this was the difference between an honorable soldier's death and a criminal one. This is matched by a draft response, unsigned but in Jackson's hand, that he would receive any statement Goering made, that he valued "candor and forthrightness" in a defendant, and that he would fairly represent Goering's conduct to the court. There are no further records of any negotiation. If fact, as we know, Goering made a strong defense, was sentenced to death by hanging, and evaded the noose by killing himself with poison.

Matt Seccombe, 5 April 2018