Oral History

William (Bill) Zeck describes the "superior orders" defense

Before joining the US Army, Zeck—a lawyer—worked for the Board of Economic Warfare. In 1946, he was hired to work on preparations for the Nuremberg trials. In his search for documents pertaining to the I. G. Farben company's involvement in the war, Zeck also met attorney Belle Mayer, his future wife. Both Zeck and Mayer were involved in preparing the indictment in the I. G. Farben trial held at Nuremberg.


With respect to superior orders, it has always been, in the American order of battle, that you obeyed the order of the superior officer and if that superior were a corporal or a sergeant or a captain or a general, his order was sacrosanct. As a result of Nuremberg, our order of battle was changed to provide you had to obey only the lawful order of a superior officer.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
View Archival Details

This content is available in the following languages

Thank you for supporting our work

We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.