Tuesday, 4 December 1945

Morning Session

THE PRESIDENT: I will call on the Chief Prosecutor for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

SIR HARTLEY SHAWCROSS (Chief Prosecutor for the United Kingdom): May it please the Tribunal, on an occasion to which reference has and will be made, Hitler, the leader of the Nazi conspirators who are now on trial before you, is reported as having said, in reference to their warlike plans:

"I shall give a propagandist cause for starting the war, never mind whether it be true or not. The victor shall not be asked later on whether he told the truth or not. In starting and making a war, not the right is what matters, but victory-the strongest has the right."
The British Empire with its Allies has twice, within the space of 25 years, been victorious in wars which have been forced upon it, but it is precisely because we realize that victory is not enough, that might is not necessarily right, that lasting peace and the rule of international law is not to be secured by the strong arm alone that the British nation is taking part in this Trial. There are those who would perhaps say that these wretched men should have been dealt with summarily without trial by "executive action"; that their power for evil broken, they should have been swept aside into Oblivion without this elaborate and careful investigation into the part which they played in bringing this war about: Vae Victis! Let them pay the penalty of defeat. But that was not the view of the British Government. Not so would the rule of law be raised and Strengthened on the international as well as upon the municipal plane; not so would future generations realize that right is not always on the side of the big battalions; not so would the world be made aware that the waging of aggressive war is not only a dangerous venture but a criminal one.

Human memory is very short. Apologists for defeated nations are sometimes able to play upon the sympathy and magnanimity of their victors, so that the true facts, never authoritatively recorded, become obscured and forgotten. One has only to recall the circumstances following upon the last World War to see the dangers to