The jury courtroom is the largest of the 60 or so courtrooms in the Nuremberg courthouse. It has an area of 240 square meters, but was expanded in preparation for the military tribunal starting in August 1945.
Equipment from 1916 is still there today
To the left in front of the audience area is the main entrance to the hall, framed by green marble columns and a head of Medusa. Like the two elaborately decorated doors at the front of the room, it belongs to the original furnishings from 1916. The bronze figural decoration above shows the biblical fall of man in the center, when Eve hands Adam a fruit from the tree of knowledge. The young man on the left with the sword embodies Germanic law, his counterpart with the bundle of rods embodies Roman law – both together the roots of German law.
Defendants sat in front of the elevator to the prison
Beyond the door, behind a wooden barrier, in two rows sat the defendants. Because several additional guards had to be accommodated there, this area was pushed a little further into the room than it is today.
In the wall behind it is an elevator that was used to bring prisoners downstairs and then lead them through a long, wooden corridor to the prison next door.
Defenders and witnesses
In front of the dock, at two long rows of tables, the defenders had their place.
In the left corner of the hall, behind glass walls, interpreters worked, translating the events into the four languages of the trial. Exactly opposite the present spectators’ benches, where the raised judge’s bench stands today, the witness stand was located near the right-hand door. Maps or photographs were attached to the end wall behind the witness stand as evidence. A screen was attached to the upper edge of the wooden paneling, on which film footage was shown as evidence.
View from the balcony into the jury courtroom, 1945. Picture credits: Nuremberg City Archives
Accuser and judge
The Allied prosecution teams sat at four large tables where the front row of spectator benches are today.
On the right side of the hall, with the large windows in the back, sat elevated the judges of the four allies. In the corner to the right behind the judge’s table were cameramen documenting the trial on film. Several newly created wall openings above and in the wood paneling also served as windows for the reporters and cameramen. In front of the judges’ benches, court secretaries and stenographers worked at two long tables. The lectern, from which the prosecutor and defense counsel lectured or questioned witnesses and defendants, was located approximately in the center of the hall.
Spectator stands were specially built in
The biggest structural change in the hall concerned the spectator stands. The original back wall of the hall was broken out for the trial to make room for members of the press. Above them a gallery for spectators arose. Today, there are four small windows through which you can look into the hall from the exhibition level. All installations and alterations were reversed after the hall was returned to the Bavarian Justice Administration in 1961.