Tuesday, 20 November 1945

THE PRESIDENT: Before the defendants in this case are called upon to make their pleas to the Indictment which has been lodged against them, and in which they are charged with Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity, and with a Common Plan or Conspiracy to commit those crimes, it is the wish of the Tribunal that I should make a very brief statement on behalf of the Tribunal.

This International Military Tribunal has been established pursuant to the Agreement of London, dated the 8th of August 1945, and the Charter of the Tribunal as annexed thereto, and the purpose for which the Tribunal has been established is stated in Article 1 of the Charter to be the just and prompt trial and punishment of the major war criminals of the European Axis.

The Signatories to the Agreement and Charter are the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of the United States of America, the Provisional Government of the French Republic, and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The Committee of the Chief Prosecutors, appointed by the four Signatories, have settled the final designation of the war criminals to be tried by the Tribunal and have approved the Indictment on which the present defendants stand charged here today.

On Thursday, the 18th of October 1945, in Berlin, the Indictment was lodged with the Tribunal and a copy of that Indictment in the German language has been furnished to each defendant, and has been in his possession for more than 30 days.

All the defendants are represented by counsel. In almost all cases the counsel appearing for the defendants have been chosen by the defendants themselves, but in cases where counsel could not be obtained the Tribunal has itself selected suitable counsel agreeable to the defendant.

The Tribunal has heard with great satisfaction of the steps which have been taken by the Chief Prosecutors to make available to defending counsel the numerous documents upon which the Prosecution rely, with the aim of giving to the defendants every possibility for a just defense.