These are documents and literature produced by the UNWCC itself, discussing its work and activities. Distinct from the until-recently sealed archives of the UNWCC’s own work, these were not kept classified in UN archives. That these documents should be widely used by legal scholars, human rights activists, and even peace campaigners, was always an intention of the UNWCC’s staff, as the following statement from Lord Wright, the Commission’s chairman, relates:

“One main purpose of this great campaign which I have outlined of justice in war, for the protection of human rights in war conditions, or at least some human rights, was to provide a body of legal doctrines, elaborated in many ramifications of fact, which would enlighten future generations and perhaps help to avert war in future, or if that is impossible, limit its atrociousness.”

This has taken place to some extent – the Commission’s Law Reports of its cases formed a key component of the ICTY’s work, for example – but other documents, such as the UNWCC’s own history, or the contents of its conferences, have gone underused.
This page aims to gather the UNWCC’s own documentation about itself.

History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and the Development of the Laws of War

In March 1948 – the same month the Commission was closed down – the UNWCC produced a comprehensive history of its activities and the legal developments in the field of war crimes that led up to its foundation. A fully searchable version of the file can be found here; pdf files for the individual files can be found below.
History of the UNWCC
Linked fileTitle
pdfFull UNWCC history
pdfContents
pdfChapter I: Introduction
pdfChapter II: Outline of the developments of the laws of war prior to the First World War
pdfChapter III: Developments of the laws of war during the First World War
pdfChapter IV: Developments in the laws of war between the two World Wars
pdfChapter V: Various developments in the concept of war crimes during the Second World War 1939 - 1943
pdfChapter VI: The establishment and organisation of the United Nations War Crimes Commission
pdfChapter VII: General historical survey of the activities of the Commission
pdfChapter VIII: Activities on questions of substantive law
pdf 1, 2Chapter IX: Developments in the concepts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against peace
pdfChapter X: Developments in the doctrines of individual responsibility of members of governments and administrators, of acts of state, of immunity of heads of state, and of superior orders
pdf 1, 2Chapter XI: Development of the law respecting criminal groups and organisations
pdf 1, 2Chapter XII: Machinery for the tracing and apprehension of war criminals
pdfChapter XIII: Arrangements for the surrender of war criminals
pdfChapter XIV: Developments in the concept and procedure of trying war criminals
pdfChapter XV: Committee I - the examinations of cases and the listing of war criminals
pdfAppendix I: Personnel of the United Nations War Crimes Commission
pdfAppendix II: War Crimes Conference held by the United Nations War Crimes Commission in Conjunction with the National War Crimes Offices, 31st May, 1st and 2nd June, 1945
pdfAppendix III: Statistical report of cases listed by Committee I
pdfAppendix IV: Statistical of war crimes criminals
pdfAppendix V: Some noteworthy war criminals
pdfAppendix VI: War crimes under international law (reprint of an article by Lord Wright
pdfAppendix VII: Bibliography of legal literature on war crimes and belligerent occupation in the Second World War
IndexIndex

Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals

These fifteen volumes of cases represent some of the more high-profile cases handled by the UNWCC, and deal with a wide range of important cases. Unlike the vast majority of the UNWCC’s caseload, these cases have widely disseminated and well-known throughout the international legal community, and have provided significant legal precedents for a significant number of subsequent cases.

Law Reports
Linked fileCaseCase summaryLocation
Volume 1Peleus TrialKilling of survivors of sunken ship by German submarine.British military court, Hamburg
Dostler CaseGerman general accused of ordering shooting of unarmed POWs.US military commission, Rome
Almelo TrialKilling without trial of POWs and civilians of an occupied country by German military personnel.British military court, Almelo, Netherlands
Hadamar TrialGerman civilians charged with killing foreign nationals by means of injections.US military commission, Wiesbaden
Scuttled U-boats CaseScuttling of U-boats in contravention of Instrument of Surrender.British military court, Hamburg
Jaluit Atoll CaseShooting of unarmed POWs by Japanese military personnel.US military commission, Marshall Islands
Dreierwalde CaseShooting of unarmed POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Wuppertal, Germany
Essen Lynching CaseKilling of unarmed POWs by German civilians. Incitement by military authorities.British military court, Essen, Germany
Zyklon-B CaseComplicity of German industrialists in murder of civilians by poison gas.British military court, Hamburg
Annex IBritish law concerning trials of war criminals by military courts.-
Annex IIUnited States law and practice concerning trials of war criminals by military commissions, military government courts, and military tribunals-
Volume 2Belsen TrialKilling and ill-treatment of Allied military personnel and civilians in Belsen and Auschwitz concentration camps.British military court, Luneburg
Volume 3Trial of KlingeTorturing and ill-treatment of civilians by German security personnel.Norwegian civilian court
Trial of Bruns and two othersTorture of civilians by German security personnel.Norwegian civilian court
Trial of Wagner and six othersCrimes during the administration of occupied Alsace by Germany.French military tribunal, Strasbourg
Trial of Thiele and SteinertOrdering and carrying out the killing of unarmed POWs by German military personnel.US military commission, Augsburg
Trial of BackMurder of downed US airman by German civilian.US military commission, Ahrweiler, Germany
Trial of Bury and HafnerMurder of downed US airman by German police.US military commission, Freising, Germany
Trials of Schosser, Goldbrunner and WilmMurder of downed US airman by German police.US military commission, Dachau
Trial of Killinger and four othersIll-treatment of POWs by in interrogation by German military personnel.British military court, Wuppertal
Trial of ChusaboruMurder of civilian by Japanese soldier.British military court, Kuala Lumpur
Annex INorwegian law concerning trials of war criminals-
Annex IIFrench law concerning trials of war criminals by military tribunals and by military government courts in the French zone of Germany-
Annex IIIUnited States law and practice concerning trials of war criminals by military commissions, military government courts, and military tribunals-
Volume 4Trial of YamashitaResponsibility of senior Japanese commander for offences committed by troops under his command.US military commission, Manila; US Supreme Court
Abbaye Ardenne Case. Trial of MeyerResponsibility of German commander for inciting his troops to refuse quarter and kill POWs.Canadian military court, Aurich, Germany
Trial of Rauer and six othersKilling of allied POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Wuppertal
Trial of StudentIll-treatment and killing of British POWs by German military personnel and the bombing of a hospital during the attack on Crete.British military court, Luneburg
Annex ICanadian law concerning trials of war criminals by military courts
Volume 5Trial of Sawada and three othersTrial and killing of captured US airmen by Japanese military personnel.US military commission, Shanghai
Trial of Ohashi and six othersKilling of civilians by Japanese military personnel.Australian military court, Rabaul
Trial of Shinohara and two othersFailure to provide a fair trial for civilians in occupied territory.Australian military court, Rabaul
Trial of KatoMurder of civilians by Japanese officer.Australian military court, Rabaul
Trial of Buck and ten othersMurder of Allied POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Wuppertal
Trial of Golkel and thirteen others.Killing of Allied POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Wuppertal
Trial of Rohde and eight othersKilling of four Allied female military personnel who had operated in plain clothes.British military court, Wuppertal
Trial of Isayama and seven othersFalse trial and execution of POWs by Japanese military personnel.US military commission, Shanghai
Trial of HisakasuFalse trial and execution of POW by Japanese military personnel.US military commission, Shanghai
Trial of HansExecution of Norwegian civilians with or without trial.Norwegian civilian courts
Annex IAustralian law concerning trials of war criminals by military courts-
Volume 6Trial of Alstotter and othersMembership of criminal organisations and liability for war crimes and crimes against humanity whilst members of the German judicial system.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Trial of FleschMurder and execution of Norwegian civilians and allied POWs.Norwegian civilian courts
Volume 7Trial of GoethMembership of a criminal organisation, liquidation operations and genocide by a German military officer.Supreme National Tribunal of Poland
Trial of Hoess (Commandant of Auschwitz)Membership of a criminal organisation, extermination and genocide by German officer.Supreme National Tribunal of Poland
Trial of MilchForced labour and illegal experiments on POWs, civilians from occupied territories and German civilians by senior German officer.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Trial of Becker, Weber and 18 othersUnlawful arrests and ill-treatment by German customs officers in occupied France.French permanent military tribunal, Lyon
Trial of LexDenouncing French civilians to the occupying authorities by German civilian and looting their property.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Nancy
Trial of Gericke and seven others (Velpke Childrens Home Case)Killing by wilful neglect of the children of Polished force labourers by German civilians.British military court, Brunswick
Annex IPolish law concerning trials of war criminals-
Volume 8Trial of Von Mackensen and MaelzerKilling as a reprisal of Italian civilians by German military personnel.British military court, Rome
Trial of KesselringCommand responsibility in killing as reprisal of Italian civilians.British military court, Venice
Trial of Bauer, Schrameck and FaltenResponsibility of German military personnel in the killing of three French partisans taken as POWs.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Dijon
Trial of Holstein and twenty three othersResponsibility of German military personnel for reprisal operations involving the killing of French civilians and destruction of property.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Dijon
Trial of List and others (Hostages Trial)Command responsibility for reprisal actions including the taking of hostages, the killing of civilians and the destruction of property.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Volume 9Trial of Flick and five othersResponsibility of leading German industrialists for the use of slave labour and POWs, the spoliation of industrial capacity in occupied territories and funding a criminal organisation (the SS).US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Trial of SzabadosKilling of hostages, destruction of property and pillage by German military NCO.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Clermont Ferrand
Trial of Alois and Anna Bommer and their two daughtersTheft and receiving stolen goods from pillage by German civilians.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Metz
Trial of LingenfelderDestruction of French war memorial by German citizen.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Metz
Trial of BausTheft of property from French civilians by German civilian.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Metz
Trial of RustIllegal and abusive requisitioning of French civilian property by German military officer.French Permanent Military Tribunal, Metz
Trial of MoehleCommand responsibility of senior German naval officer for orders to U-boat crews to not rescue survivors and to destroy shipping.British military court, Hamburg
Trial of Von RuchteschellContinuing to fire on surrendered ships, killing and abandonment of crews from destroyed shipping.British military court, Hamburg
Trial of Skorzeny and othersMisuse of American uniforms and equipment by German military personnel in combat.General Military Government Court of the US Zone of Germany
Volume 10IG Farben Trial. Trial of Krauch and othersResponsibility of leading German industrialists for encouraging and supporting aggressive war, the use of forced labour and POWs, the production of gases for extermination and the membership of illegal organisations.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Krupp TrialResponsibility of leading German industrialists for encouraging and supporting aggressive war, the use of forced labour and POWs, the production of gases for extermination and plunder and spoliation.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Volume 11Trial of KoshiroUse of Allied POWs for prohibited war-related labour by Japanese officer.Netherlands special court martial, Macassar
Dachau Concentration Camp Trial. Trial of Weiss and thirty nine othersIll-treatment, murder and extermination of allied POWs and civilians from occupied territories and Germany by German military and civilian personnel.General Military Government Court of the United States Zone, Dachau
Trial of Von FalkenhorstCommand responsibility of senior German officer for the killing of Allied POWs on the basis of the Commando order.British military court, Brunswick
Stalag Luft III Case. Trial of Wielen and seventeen others.Killing of escaped POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Hamburg
Trial of MaelzerResponsibility of senior German officer for exposing Allied POWs to public abuse and violence.US military commission, Florence
Trial of MasaoCommand responsibility of senior Japanese officer for ill-treatment and brutality towards Allied POWs.Australian military court, Rabaul
Trial of Chuichi and two othersIll-treatment of Allied POWs by Japanese military personnel.Australian military court, Rabaul
Trial of Schonfeld and nine othersKilling of Allied POWs by German military personnel.British military court, Essen
Trial of Oenning and NixKilling of British POW by German civilians.British military court, Borken, Germany
Trial of Renoth and three othersBrutality and murder of POW by German police and customs officials.British military court, Elten, Germany
Trial of HeeringIll-treatment of POWs by German soldier.British military court, Hanover
Trial of MackensenIll-treatment of POWs by German officer.British military court, Hanover
Trial of Schoengrath and six othersKilling of downed airman by German military personnel.British military court, Burgsteinfurt, Germany
Annex INetherland law concerning Trials of War Criminals-
Volume 12German High Command Trial. Trial of Von Leeb and thirteen othersCommand responsibility of senior German officers for the issuing of orders and directives that led to war crimes and crimes against humanity.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Volume 13Trial of Greifelt and othersCriminal responsibility for racial persecution and genocide by German military personnel along with membership of criminal organisations.US military tribunal, Nuremburg
Trial of GreiserResponsibility of a German administrator for membership of a criminal organisation, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity including the murder of POWs and the extermination of racial groups.Supreme National Tribunal of Poland
Trial of WagnerKilling and ill treatment of civilians used as slave labour by German civilian.General Military Government Tribunal of the French Zone of Occupation in Germany
Trial of AwochiEnforced prostitution by Japanese civilian.Netherlands temporary court martial, Batavia
Trial of MotosukeMurder of Indonesian civilians by Japanese officer.Netherlands temporary court martial, Amboina
Trial of GerbschIll-treatment of civilians in internment camp by German soldier.Special Court in Amsterdam, First Chamber
Trial of Motomura and fifteen othersMembership of a criminal group involved in ill-treatment and torture of civilians by Japanese military personnel.Netherlands temporary court martial, Macassar
Trial of HagendorfImproper use of Red Cross insignia by German soldier.US Intermediate Military Government Court, Dachau
Trial of Weiss and MundoMurder of an Allied airman by German police.US General Military Government Court, Ludwigsburg
Trial of SchmidtMutilation of dead POW by German medical personnel.US General Military Government Court, Dachau
Volume 14Trial of SakaiCommand responsibility of senior Japanese officer for crimes against peace and war crimes In China from 1937.Chinese War Crimes Military Tribunal of the Ministry of National Defence, Nanking
Trial of Eisentrager and othersGerman personnel accused of supporting Japanese war effort despite terms of surrender.US military commission, Shanghai
Trial of BuhlerResponsibility of German administrator of occupied Poland for War crimes and crimes against humanity.Supreme National Tribunal of Poland
Trial of Latza and two othersGerman judges accused of refusing a fair trail leading to the killing of Norwegian civilians.Norwegian civilian courts
Trial of HangoblKilling of downed airman by Austrian soldier.General Military Court, Dachau
Trial of RauterPersecution of Jews, deportations for slave labour, collective penalties and killing of civilians by senior German SS leader.Netherlands special courts
Trial of ZuehlkeIll-treatment and illegal detention of civilians by German soldier.Netherlands special courts
Annex IChinese law concerning trials of war criminals-
Digest of Laws and CasesIncludes extensive legal discussion on the background to and nature of international law on war crimes, and the mission of the UNWCC.-
Annex ICertain jurisdictional provisions relating to Belgian, Czechoslovak and Yugoslav courts empowered to try war criminals-
Annex IIIndex of cases reported or cited in these volumes-

Information concerning Human Rights arising from trials of war criminals

Even as political stresses were undermining the success of the UNWCC, it was also planning for the future. The newly-emerged Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) requested a report on the implications of postwar international criminal justice for the burgeoning field of human rights. The UNWCC responded with a report detailing the human rights issues raised by the prosecutions of war criminals – both the implications of the trials themselves (what were the standards for a fair trial, what laws were applicable in this context, and other questions that would be the foundations for international criminal justice in years to come), and for human rights more broadly (what kinds of atrocity would need to be covered under international law, and what kinds of crimes human rights would need to protect against).

UNWCC Human Rights Report

You can get access to the report here.

Check out the front page of the UNWCC’s report on Human Rights, here.

Minutes of the National Offices’ Conference

In May 1945 – towards the end of the war – representatives of all sixteen national offices that worked with the Commission met to discuss the project of coordinating and giving impetus to the unprecedented set of war crimes trials planned. As well as being an overview of the Commission’s own plans and approaches at a critical point, it also illustrates some of the roles that individual states played and their relationships – including the major role of India in developing this early important period of international law.

National Offices' Conference

The file can be found here.