The Nuremberg Code has served as a foundation for ethical clinical research since its publication 60 years ago. This landmark document, developed in response to the horrors of human experimentation done by Nazi physicians and investigators, focused crucial attention on the fundamental rights of research participants and on the responsibilities of investigators. It was prepared at a very momentous occasion, following the formal surrender of Germany at the end of the Second World War.
The Allied Commanders were well aware of the atrocities committed by the German Forces, on civilians and prisoners of war, and prosecuted the leading German authorities. Popularly known as the Nuremberg Trials, these were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces, wherein prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany were prosecuted. The trials were held in the city of Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, in 1945-1946, at the Palace of Justice.
The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, which tried 22 of the most important captured leaders of Nazi Germany, though several key architects of the war (such as Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Josef Goebbels) had committed suicide before the trials began. The initial trials were held between November 20, 1945 and October 1, 1946. These trials are graphically described by Albert Speer in his book "Spandau-The Secret Diaries."