Sunday, 29 September 2019

Colin Aikman - Distinguished New Zealand Jurist and Diplomat.

In 1975 while working for the International Red Cross in Nepal, I met Dr Colin Aikman the New Zealand Ambassador to Nepal, and High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh, when he visited. What a warm, friendly, helpful and highly experienced diplomat I remember him as. I recall a very entertaining dinner he put on for the small group of New Zealanders working in Kathmandu.
It wasn't until 60 years later, that I discovered in some declassified Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade documents an account by Colin Aikman of the Nuremberg trials. Dr Aikman, a Department of External Affairs lawyer who was accredited to attend the trials, went on to become one of this country's most distinguished jurists and diplomats.
.The International Military Tribunal, sitting in Nuremberg, tried 22 Nazi leaders.
Eleven were sentenced to death, three to life imprisonment, four given sentences of 10 to 20 years, and three were acquitted. Luftwaffe chief Hermann Goering committed suicide before his death sentence could be carried out.
"With the possible exception of Goering and [former Foreign Minister Joachim] von Ribbentrop, they are a very ordinary-looking set of old buffers," Dr Aikman reported back to New Zealand.
"As a general impression of all the prisoners, they are a bunch of second-rate men whom opportunism and the accidents of history have put in a position to perform first-rate atrocities," Dr Aikman wrote.

Colin died in 2002, aged 83.  Here is a link to an article about Colin Aikman.

Nazi trial (from left, back) Doenitz, Raeder, Schirach, Saukel, Jodl, von Papen, Seyss-Inquart, Speer, von Neurath, Fritsche; (next row): Goering, Hess, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Rosenberg, Frank, Frick, Streicher, Funk, Schact