Churchill’s view

People in the UK have compared the “execution” of Osama Bin Laden unfavourably to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after the second World War. What would Churchill have thought?

Churchill’s view, at least initially, was that the principal Nazis should be shot on capture – after all, there could be no real question as to their guilt. As late as April 1945 he explicitly rejected the idea of a war crimes trial. In the end he was overruled by Roosevelt and Stalin (the latter having had, from his point of view, a fairly satisfactory experience with show trials in the past).  Churchill eventually approved of the Nuremberg trials, but rather because of their value in exposing the depth of Nazi depravity than because of scruples about summary execution.

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