Nuremberg Court Sketches: Cartoons by Günter Peis

Over 800 reporters were present at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg from November 1945 until September 1946 in a sincere effort to convey the significance of the Trials of Nuremberg. Among these many journalists were also sketch artists who made drawings of the courtroom and the defendants for media and publication companies. These sketch artists also played an import role in  documenting the Nuremberg Trials while photographers were not always allowed inside the court room.

Among these sketch artists was Günter Peis (1927-2012). Peis was an Austrian journalist and historian. During World War II, Peis was forced to join the Volkssturm at the age of 17. After the war, he went to an American sponsored re-education program ending up at a journalism school in Munich. From there, he was sent as a delegate to the Nuremberg Trials, where he was the youngest (19) journalist present and was given special access to witness the executions of Von Ribbentrop, Keitel, and others. After the trials, Peis produced the booklet: Nuremberg Court Cartoons, Photographs of the Judges and Prosecutors. Cartoons of the Defendants. In this booklet, photos of judges and unique sketches (cartoons) of the 21 defendants, such as Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer and Rudolf Hess are represented. In another brochure titled ´The Nürnberger Extra Blatt´, which was published shortly after the trials, more sketches of Peis are included: Cartoon style sketches showing the prosecutors, judges and journalists in a lighthearted way. The sketches made by Günter Peis were foremost used as a means to document the Trials and to capture the characteristics of the defendants. But the sketches in The Nürnberger Extra Blatt also served another purpose after completing 10 months of difficult and emotional demanding work as a journalist. The Austrian Jewish Journalist William Stricker mentioned this in his introduction: “This booklet, conceived and produced by German reporters, is an expression of the right of free press to make fun of itself after a job has been done.”

Image gallery

This image gallery shows a selection of the drawings made by Günter Peis. The drawings were printed in: Nuremberg Court Cartoons, Photographs of the Judges and Prosecutors. Cartoons of the Defendants and in The Nürnberger Extra Blatt. These two booklets were part of the archives of Peter Martin Bleibtreu, an Austrian journalist who was a reporter at the Nuremberg Trials. The archives of Bleibtreu are now part of the Special Collections of the Peace Palace Library. During the events organised at the Peace Palace Library commemorating 70 years Nuremberg, a selection of the sketches were also exhibited.

This project was made possible by the generous contribution of the Austrian Embassy in The Hague.

For more information on the Nuremberg Court Cartoons, please contact the Peace Palace Library by sending an email to c.alihusain@ppl.nl. 

Nuremberg Court Sketches
Nuremberg Court Sketches
Geoffrey Lawrence (1880-1971), President of the Judges at Nuremberg. Lord Justice, Member of the Privy Council, King's Council. Nurnberger Extra Blatt by Gunter Peis
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