Robert H. Jackson’s report to President Harry S. Truman was submitted June 6, 1945, and released to the public June 7, 1945. The report summarized his first month of work as the Chief of Counsel. Jackson’s report covered five key points: 1. How his work to prosecute major war criminals was being reconciled with other, ongoing war crimes prosecutions; 2. The preparation of the American case and the progress made with allied counterparts on a trial agreement; 3. An outline of the prosecution’s plan, including the commitment to fair trials not summary executions; 4. The prosecution’s foundation in international law; and, 5. The need for immediate action in starting the trial.

President Harry S. Truman and Justice Robert H. Jackson, June 1945
Credit: Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

Report to the President on the Prosecution of Axis War Criminals

I have the honor to report accomplishments during the month since you named me as Chief of Counsel for the United States in prosecuting the principal Axis WAr Criminals. In brief, I have selected staffs from the several services, departments and agencies concerned; worked out a plan for the preparation, briefing, and trial of the cases; allocated the work among the several agencies; instructed those engaged in collecting or processing evidence; visited the European Theater to expedite the examination or captured documents, and the interrogation of witnesses and prisoners;...

Robert H. Jackson's Notes

We then went to work with might and main to get out a report to the President on a plan for conducting the trials. The staff devoted itself to it almost constantly. The President revealed the report at a press conference, gave copies of it to the press, and said that he had completely approved it as expressing the American position. Many men had been very skeptical about a trial because they could see no plan for it, felt that the project hadn’t been thought through, that it was carelessly entered upon and that it was likely to run amuck. On reading this report they had a new confidence in our enterprise. It also had a very pronounced affect abroad. There can be no doubt that it was one of the decisive steps taken in connection with our trial preparations.

– The Reminiscences of Robert H. Jackson Columbia Univ. Oral History Research Office, 1955, Pages 1251-1252