I have recently had a discussion with a German who claims that Nuremberg trials were entirely based on ex-post-facto laws, and all the atrocities Nazis did were legal according Germany's and international laws of the time. His arguments are quite erratic and self-contradictory. They are as follows:
- Only citizens are protected by criminal laws, killing non-citizens is permitted. From my point of view, this is not the case in the majority of jurisdictions and there is no evidence Nazi Germany was an exception. Also this does not explain legality of killing euthanasia program victims who were German citizens.
- German law declared Jews non-humans, look at Nuremberg laws. I found no evidece that these or any other German laws declared Jews non-humans. Also this does not explain how killing non-Jews, such as hostages was legal.
- Killing by the order of state is not murder. Okay, but in majority of cases of Nazi atrocities there were no written orders. Even if they were, how they could overrule the law? I think, an order only switches the responsibility from the perpetrator to those who gave the order.
- There was no international law before the establishment of the UN. Again, doubtful, because there were international conventions on treatment of POWs and rules of war.
So, my question is, whether these or other arguments to the effect that Nazi atrocities were legal according the German law, valid?
I am not asking whether the laws were enforceable or whether the victims could charge the perpetrators under Nazi regime.