Volume 32, Issue 2, Fall 2018
The Legality of the Nuremberg Trials
A Brief Lockean Memoir
Just over seventy years ago, three trials took place in Nuremberg, Germany. At the time, they seemed a turning point in international relations—and, indeed, proved to be. The trials involved the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, economic, and judicial leadership of Nazi Germany, those who planned, oversaw, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other large crimes. At the time, the Trials were widely condemned for using retroactive criminal statutes. The most famous discussion is what became known as the Hart-Fuller Debate. This paper argues that Locke provides the best account of the lawfulness of the Trials—at least when compared to the accounts offered by Fuller, Hart, and Ronald Dworkin.