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Letter to Justice Jackson Upon the Conclusion of His Duties With the Nurnberg Tribunal

October 17, 1946

Dear Mr. Justice Jackson:

I have read and studied deeply the report which you submitted under date of October seventh last concerning the prosecution of major Nazi war criminals at Nurnberg. No litigation approaching this, the first international criminal assize in history, ever was attempted.

For my own part I have no hesitancy in declaring that the historic precedent set at Nurnberg abundantly justifies the expenditure of effort, prodigious though it was. This precedent becomes basic in the international law of the future. The principles established and the results achieved place International Law on the side of peace as against aggressive warfare.

I am convinced that the verdict for which you worked will receive the accolade of civilized people everywhere and will stand in history as a beacon to warn international brigands of the fate that awaits them.

Although your own part in the dispensing of international justice is at an end there remains, as you emphasize, the task of meting out justice to the German militarists, industrialists, politicians, diplomatists and police officials whose guilt does not differ from the guilt of the criminals who have already been dealt with except that these remaining malefactors played their miserable roles at lower levels. I note what you say concerning the method through which these remaining criminals are to be brought to justice. The recommendations which you make in this regard, coming as they do out of your experience at Nurnberg, will be given careful consideration.

In accepting, effective as of this day, your resignation as representative of the President, and Chief of Counsel for the United States, I can but tender you my heartfelt thanks and the thanks of the Nation for the great service which you have rendered.

Very sincerely yours,


[Honorable Robert H. Jackson, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C.]

Note: Justice Jackson served as the United States Representative and Chief of Counsel for the International Military Tribunal at Nurnberg, Germany, from May 2, 1945, to October 17, 1946. His report, in the form of an 8-page letter to the President dated October 7, was released by the White House on October 15. It is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 15, p. 771).

Harry S Truman, Letter to Justice Jackson Upon the Conclusion of His Duties With the Nurnberg Tribunal Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232152

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