The Legacy of Spandau Prison:
Nazi Leadership, the Trials, and Donald Trump

by Joseph Warren, Editor
copyright 2023

What then does Spandau mean? It means that high-profile national leaders, no matter how guilty they may be and regardless of the best efforts of their international judges and captors to try them appropriately, are political figures by their very nature.
Tales from Spandau, Norman J. W. Goda, PhD, Ohio University

An accurate and difficult to refute nexus: A leader who advances conflict, or in the case of our former president, so goes the perception by some. The only viable ideological separation to negate this political connection might be that between warlord and oppressed. But such is most often not the case.


One of the most significant remnant pieces of the World War II, tentatively ending in Europe in May 1945, were the Nuremberg trials and subsequent dispensation of judgment to those who represented the
defeated of that conflict: To the victor belong the spoils. Other criminal proceedings and inquiries were conducted throughout Europe and elsewhere following the conclusion of the war, but Nuremberg alone stands as a symbol of reckoning to many of those who experienced the true hardships of events, in one form or another.

Goda’s very thoroughly presented book of the selected Nuremberg trials and subsequent Spandau executions or incarcerations is a freely-written account of those who stood trial on the heels of the war, and takes a clear approach to each of those who were incarcerated or executed in a difficult to manage Allied effort to bring just consequences to those who offended the modern-day precepts of armed conflict. (Which is to say, against those who weren’t
entirely gentlemanly in how they engaged in killing; “Killing” being the point of war, after all. I think Clausewitz made that very clear in his treatise, On War.)

(It is not unique in history to include genocide as an ancillary of conflict, and by most accounts, it’s typical. In fact, I see it as routine. Take the
Opium Wars with China between the drug-pushing Forbes family of the United States (US Navy) and various gentry of Britain (Royal Navy) in the 1840s. The conflicts that ensued were certainly genocidal in nature, yet rarely if ever termed so. Same goes for the many hundreds of thousands we killed in Iraq, by order of George W. Bush and perpetuated by Barack Obama, who were otherwise unarmed citizens; not to mention the millions of Vietnamese who fell under Johnson.)

Of paramount interest to me, from a Spandau perspective, has always been the enigmatic Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s Deputy Führer who on thoughtful, yet confused reflection, flew his personal and modified Messerschmitt to northern England, ejecting after running out of fuel, and attempting to find his way to the Duke of Hamilton in order to bring a message of reconciliation to the King, George VI.

Hess had it on good authority that the King would take those steps necessary to eliminate Churchill from his post, thus advancing peace between the two closely-related countries – close cousins, really – and advance a peaceful reconciliation: “We take Europe – you keep England.” Apparently few shared Hess’s delusion and he became, after a peripatetic trip through various facilities, Spandau’s longest reigning prisoner, for better or for worse.

At the heart of the many missteps and confusion in the administration of Spandau prison and in the Nuremberg trials themselves (and there were many), was the overwhelming, visceral hatred held by the leadership of the Soviet Union toward the Germans – all Germans – led by one of the world’s most notorious murderers, Stalin, and subsequently fueled by Khrushchev, after a brief entente. Hess, it seems, was viewed as an agent intent on splitting the Allies, relieving England from the burden of conflict, and leaving only Germany’s Eastern Front as a field of contention. This would have not boded well for the USSR.

Thus enters Donald Trump

And somehow (in my mind) that brings us to Donald Trump who is currently being tried in a variety of courts of various jurisdictions by a variety of prosecutors (for an assortment of alleged criminal acts) all of whom assiduously assure us that their actions are purely non-political and that they seek only to bring a criminal to justice, for whatever charges they, in their jurisdiction, may allege, predicated on whatever evidence they may place before the bar.

Not to demean the prosecutorial integrity of those involved, but I have to call,
bullshit. The best legal minds of the world, not that many decades ago, all understood that the essence of the Nuremberg proceedings was to assess a consequence for purely political acts – the actions necessary to achieve partisan ideals notwithstanding how, in some cases, abhorrent their nature. One cannot separate one from the other. In some instances, they were acts of war, and as Clausewitz said, although I may slightly misquote, The purpose of a war is to win it. He believed that war is nothing other than Politics on a different level. I agree.

To the people who embrace Donald Trump – then and now – this was (and is) a war for the very essence of our country. It is a battle for the very soul of America based on concepts that have aged perhaps beyond their sell-by, but that they seek to preserve. I understand that: Change is very uncomfortable, particularly when seen as retrogressive. When combined with Replacement Theory, the consequences are likely to be great.

A thought regarding the Great Replacement Theory: Whether a Conspiracy or Theory or Fact, the result is irrefutably the same. Those freshly arrived non-citizens from Third-World countries are, through one means or another, casting ballots in our nation’s elections, legally or not, and are replacing the once-majority race of our country. Just a factual statement.

Consider the Nuremberg Trials: Had the Allies failed, the probable
London or Paris Trials of 1945, would have been seen equally as questionable by some, and fitting by others. Quite obviously, it’s the same for Trump. Had Biden of lost (I know, I know…) our nation today would likely be much less fraught with dissension and divisiveness, and we would face the upcoming 2024 election with far less trepidation and down-right fear.

Imprisoned, though, our former president would live on as a martyr for as many years to come as his life and legacy endures.

Political prisoners serve as a lasting reminder that the system is frail and subject to manipulation. It was for that reason that Churchill had strongly suggested that those facing prison as a result of the Nuremberg proceedings ought to instead be executed: “Shoot them all…” were his words. Their immediate conclusion expedites their passing from history.

Yet, that is not how we resolve legal issues in our country... at the moment..., anyway.