Nuremberg trials explored in museum exhibit

Officials representing Germany, Russia, the U.S., France and Britain joined together to unveil a new museum exhibit exploring the Nuremberg trials.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle examines a new exhibit commemorating the Nuremberg war-crimes trials in Germany on Sunday. ((Tim Schamberger/Associated Press))
Officials representing Germany, Russia, the U.S., France and Britain joined together over the weekend to unveil a new museum exhibit exploring the Nuremberg trials.

The Memorium Nuremberg Trials exhibit is located in the same justice building in Germany where, after the Second World War, more than 20 senior Nazi officials were tried for their crimes.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, were among the dignitaries at the unveiling on Sunday. Benjamin Ferencz, one of the original U.S. prosecutors at the trials, was among the surviving participants in attendance.

The trials were a "response to the perversion of justice in Nazi Germany,"  and set a precedent for the development of international law, Westerwelle said.

A screen inside the famed courtroom 600 in Nuremberg's Palace of Justice shows original TV footage of Hermann Goering, former supreme commander of the German air force during the Second World War, during the historic trials. ((Michaela Rehle/Reuters))
As the world's first war crime trials, the proceedings represented "a great historic achievement," he said.

"Because a lot was risked here in Nuremberg — politically, legally and personally — international law was able to develop and rules could be set for future cases."

Visitors to the exhibit, which officially opened to the public on Monday, can peruse original documents and archival material from the landmark legal proceedings, including photos, video footage, audio recordings and journalists' notes. It also explores the legacy of the trials and their example for subsequent international criminal trials. 

The display includes the prisoners docks where Hermann Goering and other Nazi leaders sat.

Visitors may also venture into the building's courtroom 600 — the well-preserved and still-used wood-panelled room where the trials were held 65 years ago — provided a current trial is not taking place.

According to organizers, Memorium was inspired by growing interest in the trials and an increase in visitors to a nearby documentation centre and courtroom 600.

With files from The Associated Press