Richard Overy

More by Luck Than Judgement

The Trial of Adolf Hitler: The Beer Hall Putsch and the Rise of Nazi Germany

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In 1945, as the Second World War came to an end, the Allies planned to put Germany’s leaders – including Adolf Hitler, if he could be captured alive – on trial. This would not be easy. The American prosecution team drafted a memorandum entitled ‘The Trial of Adolf Hitler’ in order to imagine what it would be like and what problems might be faced. They were well aware that this would not be Hitler’s first trial and they worried that he might use the court as he had done the last time he was in the dock, in 1924: as an arena in which to justify what he did and perhaps revive Germany’s flagging ultra-nationalism. In the end, Hitler’s suicide was a relief. Even then, Soviet mischief kept alive the idea that Hitler was not dead and might suddenly turn up, in the process frustrating the prosecution of the other Nazi war criminals.

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