In April 2021, knowledge of the Nuremberg Trials became mandatory for everyone: President Vladimir Putin signed the Law on Amendments to Article 354 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which criminalises the denial of the facts established by the Nuremberg Trials, as well as the approval of Nazi crimes, specifying that the penalty is up to five years in prison. Project “Nuremberg. Casus Pacis” found out how deep the knowledge of Russian citizens about the process is, and whether we want to learn more about it. At our request, the SuperJob portal conducted a survey in which 46 percent of Russian adults under the age of 25 confessed their ignorance, answering “Nuremberg? This is the first time I’ve heard about it.”
Let's not blame the youth for skipping history lessons at school. Let's try to figure out how to fix the situation. Most importantly, let's explain why it should be done now.
Why they don’t know?
First heard about Nuremberg
18-24 years old - 46%
25-34 years old - 31%
35-44 years old - 17%
45 years old and older - 5%
The first reaction is confusion. How could it happen that half of the youth know nothing about the Nuremberg Trials, if the topic is included in the school curriculum?
“The courses on General History and the history of Russia include this topic,” Alexei Kiselev, a history teacher from Moscow explains. “But it is presented really briefly, nothing more than a photograph with a commentary. In many schools, Russian history is studied in graduation classes in the second half of the year, just before the exam. Therefore, many students just ignore it."
However, some of the respondents were well aware of the Nuremberg Trials. And there are very young people among them.
“This is a trial on war crimes such as crimes against peace, humanity, violation of the laws of war and conspiracy,” an 18-year-old girl from Cherepovets replied.
A 38-year-old human resources specialist from Penza knew that the “large” Nuremberg tribunal was not the only one: “It was the first and key trial of a series of trials that took place in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice after the end of World War II in 1945-1949.”
A 25-year-old woman from Murmansk, who works as a site foreman wrote: “The Nuremberg trial is a trial of the top leadership of Nazi Germany and the organisations of the Third Reich. According to its results, 19 defendants were found guilty, and the actions of the leaders of a number of organisations in Nazi Germany were considered to be criminal. According to scientists, the Nuremberg Tribunal became an unprecedented historical and legal phenomenon, a key stage in the formation of international criminal law."
“The awareness of men about the Nuremberg Trials is higher than that of women, so men often left controversial assessments of its results and contradictory opinions about the sufficiency or insufficiency of information about it,” Natalya Golovanova, head of the SuperJob research centre noted. “Among people 45 years old and older, 8 out of 10 are well aware of the history of the trial; they confirmed the lack of information about the trial more often (55%) as well as the fact that fascist ideas have not been eradicated(46%).”
Why should we know that?
I find it difficult to answer if there is enough information about the process or not
18-24 years old - 51%
25-34 years old - 54%
35-44 years old - 39%
45 years old and older - 25%
18-35-year-old people question the need to popularise the theme of the Nuremberg Tribunal more often that other age groups. More than 50% of the respondents in this age category could not answer the question “Is there enough information about the Nuremberg trials now?” According to Natalia Golovanova, ignorance is the reason for this doubt: those who know nothing about the process cannot appreciate the significance of this topic.
The “senior” respondents from those who admit the lack of information about the process are aware of the fact that the topic of the Nuremberg Tribunal had been collecting dust in Soviet ideological institutions for a long time.
“There is a lack not only of detailed information, with protocols, but of general information as well,” a security specialist from St. Petersburg complained. “May be the reason is that many documents have not yet been declassified,” a senior executive from Moscow suggested. “As far as I know, the materials of the Nuremberg trials were not published in full neither in the USSR nor in the Russian Federation,” a bank employee from Moscow quite rightly noted. “So, information about this process, as well as about the ‘small’ Nuremberg trials, is sorely lacking.”
Of course, the history of the Nuremberg Tribunal must be known, at least because it simply happened. Furthermore, our country played a key role in its preparation and implementation. But it's not just that.
A 32-year-old lead engineer from Yaroslavl prudently noted: “It is necessary to draw analogies with the modern world, showing which manifestations of fascism and Nazism remained today”. “People need to be constantly informed about it, so that they could evaluate themselves and the possible consequences of their actions,” a 50-year-old assistant manager from Moscow said.
It`s clear, that some citizens have obvious problems assessing the consequences of their actions today. That`s the reason why the Nuremberg Tribunal has been included in the Criminal Code. On 5 April, President Vladimir Putin signed the Law on Amendments to Article 354 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. “The denial of the facts established by the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal for the trial and punishment of the main war criminals of the European Axis countries, approval of the crimes established by the said verdict, as well as publicly committed dissemination of deliberately false information about the activities of the USSR during the Second World War, about veterans of the Great Patriotic War...” are punishable by a fine of three million rubles or by three years of forced labour or by five years’ imprisonment. As it’s known, ignorance of the law (the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal in our case) is no excuse.
The Nuremberg Trials could not defeat the ideology of fascism
18-24 years old - 20%
25-34 years old - 24%
35-44 years old - 37%
45 years old and older - 46%
Even the older generation has failed to assess ideological implication of the Nuremberg Tribunal: 38 % of 45-year-olds do not know whether the process helped in the fight against fascism. But this is a difficult question and there is no definite answer. "It`s almost impossible to put an end to any ideology", - a designer from Voskresensk - one of the respondents stated.
A 50-year-old storekeeper from Saratov is partly right, saying that "the main task of the Nuremberg trials was to prosecute war criminals but not to make propaganda against the ideology of fascism."
And how can one basically pronounce a verdict convicting an ideology? The story about the monstrous crimes of Nazism, which was first heard in the courtroom of the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, was definitely a bombshell. Hundreds of journalists spread this shocking information around the world. It itself became the anti-propaganda of Nazism.
“Not only Hitler supported the ideology of fascism, but also the people. How could all German people be judged at the trial?", a 33-year-old geologist from Orenburg fairly questioned. Post-war Germany is still looking for the answer to this difficult question.
The youngest respondents - those whom the elders accuse of indifference and ignorance – turned out to be the best at formulating a key point: the issues of the Nuremberg trials are still relevant today. The history of the Tribunal should be studied not only because it is very interesting. Today, the issue of the Nuremberg process is crucial all over the world and in our country.
“The verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal is not fully respected, fascism still exists today. Apparently history has not taught everyone; public condemnation of fascism began to be forgotten. The reality of our modern generation is much calmer than the past of the Second World War generation. Humanity forgets, and many simply do not fully understand the horrors that occurred during the war," said a 23-year-old nanny from Nevinnomyssk.
“The trial itself and disclosure of the ideology of fascism are not enough; the struggle against fascism requires states to take real action. However, the Nuremberg trials made a significant contribution to the beginning of this struggle,” a 23-year-old girl from Kostroma said.
“Nuremberg. Casus Pacis” responds to this particular appeal, formulated by young people. The linguistic student project "NURNBERG-75", initiated by "Nuremberg. Casus Pacis", RIA Novosti and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education has the same aim: students of the largest universities in Russia are translating the transcripts of the Nuremberg Tribunal into Russian.
The website of the “Nuremberg. Casus Pacis” project publishes evidence and documents of the things that had been already proven and seem to be undisputable; the things, that everyone knows in general terms, including young Russians hearing about the Nuremberg Trials for the first time: it’s true, Nazism is inhuman; the occupiers carried out a deliberate genocide on the occupied territories, and their atrocities were infernal. Who has not heard of the gas chambers nowadays? Such people don’t exist. But the knowledge itself does not protect the future.
The monster can easily return. Hitler came to power not with the help of otherworldly forces, but as a result of a political deal. The people of Germany were not hypnotized - they only read the newspapers that they were allowed to read and listened to those orators whom they were allowed to listen to. The aggressive propaganda of exceptionalism and superiority was able to convert millions of people in a few years. The Holocaust began with "trifles" – “small” acts of discrimination: do not walk on the sidewalks, do not open shops in the morning etc. What followed was a matter of social engineering - the aggressor needed a sacrifice.
The materials of the Nuremberg Trials reveal the algorithm for turning an ordinary political system into hell on Earth. On a historical scale, the transformation was immediate. Step by step, starting in 1920, beginning from the establishment of the Nazi Party, the Tribunal traced the path followed by Europe for 25 years, which almost destroyed it. The materials of the Nuremberg Tribunal are the only guide along this route, and there will be no other.
If we do not want to repeat that path, we should know the guide in as much detail as possible. Because “In a broad sense fascism was and remains in different forms and types, in different countries of the world,” a geography teacher from the town of Lyuban in Leningrad Region said. The town was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis over the course of two and a half years of occupation.
The survey on the SuperJob portal involved 1,600 economically active respondents from a sample that takes into account principle socio-demographic characteristics (gender, age, region of residence, income, education, etc.)