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Judge Advocate General Myron C. Cramer by Melissa Rudolf

My focus from the document was that of the signature of Major Judge Advocate General, Myron C. Cramer, particularly his time spent in the Japanese war trials His signature was written on the documents we found some time between October 22 and November 24, 1943.

         Myron Cramer was born in Portland, Connecticut on November 6, 1881. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1904, LL.B. from Harvard in 1907. He was commissioned in the cavalry, Washington National Guard in 1910 and then commissioned in the Judge Advocate General Department in 1920. Cramer graduated from Command and General Staff School in 1930.

         Interestingly enough all military officers are appointed by the U.S. President are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, but the Judge Advocate General is one of the few positions in the Army explicitly provided for by law in Title 10 of the United States Code, and which requires a distinct appointment. Officers who have already been appointed to another branch of the Army are administratively dismissed and simultaneously recommissioned anew as Judge Advocates, rather than merely transferring branches.





         The end of World War II thrust Army lawyers into a new area. Judge advocates assisted with the prosecution of Nazi Party leaders for "Crimes Against Humanity" at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany. Trials also were conducted in Tokyo, where Japanese war criminals were prosecuted.

He served as Judge Advocate General from December 1, 1941 through November 30, 1945. While serving he took place in the Tokyo Trial or the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. He tried Japanese leaders accused for war crimes and other charges that were committed between 1937 and 1945.

         The Charter of the International Military Tribunal established the legal basis for the trial for the Far East (CIMTFE), which was proclaimed on Jan. 19, 1946 by Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur. The Tokyo Trial began on May 3, 1946 at Ichigaya Court (formerly the Japanese Army headquarters building) in Tokyo, Japan. Members of the tribunal were taken from participating countries of the war. Cramer succeeded Justice Higgins in supervising the war trials.

            Less publicized were the trials of the rank and file military personnel who had actually committed or ordered war crimes. The Judge Advocate General's Department supervised these trials, and judge advocates participated in many of them as prosecutors. In many of these trials, Army lawyers also served as defense counsel to ensure that German and Japanese defendants received adequate legal representation. Cramer served as one of the  "International Justices in Tokyo”:








This is the first group picture of the International Justices of the Int. Military Tribunal for Far East since Major Gen. Myron C. Cramer took the place of Justice Higgins on the bench. From L-R: Justice Patrick, Great Britain; Justice Cramer, US; Chief Justice Webb, Australia; Justice Mei, China; Justice Zaryanuf, USSR; STANDING, Justice Pal, India; Justice Roling, Netherlandsl Justice McDougall, Canada; Justice Bernarad, France; Justice Northcroft, New Zealand; Justice Jaranilla, Philippines.


Cramer was the honorary president of the Judge Advocates Association in Washington D.C. for a while before the Tokyo Trials.



            MacArthur appointed a panel of eleven judges, nine from the nations that signed the Instrument of Surrender. The Potsdam declaration had called for trials and purges of those who had "deceived and misled" the Japanese people into war. However, there was major disagreement, both among the Allies and within the U.S., about whom to try and how to try them. Despite the lack of consensus, General Douglas MacArthur - the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers - decided to initiate arrests. On September 11, just over a week after the surrender, he ordered the arrest of thirty-nine suspects — most of them members of General Tojo's war cabinet.

            The charges of the trials were outstanding, twenty-eight Japanese leaders were charged with Class A crimes, and more than five thousand seven hundred, were charged with Classes B and C crimes. Class A included those who were charged with crimes against peace, Class B was a category for those accused of war crimes, and those charged with crimes against humanity were said to be in Class C.

            After a six-month judgment period, a 2000 page opinion piece was released. Still five out of the eleven judges released separate opinion papers, mostly consenting that they believed the punishments for the war crimes were not harsh enough. Myron Cramer was not among these judges having influenced the overall judgment to his satisfaction.


            In his later career Cramer worked at the Pentagon as a Judge Advocate General.


Left to right: Justices Pal of India, Roling of the Netherlands, Mcdougall, of Canada, Patrick of Great Britain, Cramer of the United States, Webb of Australia, Ju of China, Zaryanov of Russia, Bernard of France, Northcroft of New Zealand, Jaranilla of the Philippines, of the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, seated at the bench in the war ministry bldg., Tokyo, July 22, 1946, Major General Myron C. Cramer's first session as newly appointed representative of the United States in the trial of Tojo and 26 other Japanese accused of major war crimes.



WPA-46-66416 WWII Signal Corps



July 22, 1946


Left to right: Justice sir wm. Webb of Australia and newly appointed Justice Major General Myron C. Cramer of the United States of the IMTFE, in the entrance of the war ministry building, Tokyo, Japan.





During his work on the war crimes, Cramer was awarded the Legion of Merit one of two neck orders.  It is awarded for outstanding services o achievements in the United States army or to foreign military or political leader. He received it in 1942 from the United States. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, which is highest non-valorous military and civilian decoration of the United States of America military. It is issued for exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in either a senior government service position or as a senior officer of the United States armed forces or other uniformed services.




            After a long life in the service, and many international recognitions, Myron Cramer died a peaceful death while under the watch of his family.




 Weingartner, James, Trophies of War: U.S. Troops and the Mutilation of Japanese War Dead, 1941-1945. Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 61, No. 1 (Feb., 1992), pp. 53-67

Published by: University of California Press


Not much in the way of writers: 

U.S. Army Signal Center, Office of the Staff Judge Advocate. http://www.gordon.army.mil/osja/Links.HTM

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