Franklin man served during famous Nuremberg trials

Published 9:29 am Friday, November 11, 2011

FRANKLIN—A Franklin man played a role in the war-crimes trials of Nazi officers and officials in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1945 to 1949.

Newsom B. Chavis Jr. served as a military police guard during the Nuremberg Trials as part of his three years of service in the Army.

As a guard, Chavis was told not to let anybody near the proceedings as nearby streets were blocked off. The 83-year-old remembers seeing many tanks and airplanes.

“I was stationed outside in case somebody came up,” he said. “At this time the war was over and they were trying these people for what they did.”

A series of trials conducted by a military tribunal took place in Nuremberg. Among defendants were 24 political and military leaders of Nazi Germany, according to the Library of Congress website.

The trials were conducted by a tribunal, which consisted of one member and an alternate from each of the four allied powers. These countries included the United States, France, Great Britain and the USSR.

Chavis said he feels a sense of pride when looking back at his participation.

“I was thinking they were doing the right thing,” he said. “I just thought they were going to get what happened to them.”

Chavis returned stateside in 1949 and began working for his father’s trucking company. He married his wife, Eurdie, a year later. Married for 61 years, they are the parents of Newsom B. Chavis III, Ray A. Chavis and Tracy E. Chavis.

Newsom Chavis, who retired from construction work in 1993, said his service changed him for the better.

“It made me a man and helped me understand a lot of things that I wouldn’t have,” he said.