Voiceover: Human rights. Why are they so important? And are they British? My name is David Maxwell Fyfe. Let me tell you my story.

1945, World War Two has just ended. The Allies capture some of the leading Nazis who'd almost destroyed civilized Europe. The world demands justice. I'm a British Conservative politician and lawyer, and have been sent by the British government to prosecute the Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg Trials, a landmark event for international justice, where we showed the world the full extent of horrors the Nazis had committed, where we sought justice. It got us thinking, how do we stop these horrors from happening again?

We realise the roads to the gas chambers was paved with the denial of the basic rights of Jews of Gypsies of homosexuals. How could we better protect those rights? The answer was human rights laws. The idea of human rights have been building for hundreds of years, to not just say that people have the right to life, the right to freedom of religion, to freedom from slavery, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech, but to enshrine those rights in law.

So after Nuremberg, the international community came together, I and others created the European Convention on Human Rights, the first time in history where all the things a person needs to be free, were set down in writing and protected by law. Friends now, as in my time, some argue that we don't need human rights laws to protect people from the state. Let me tell you, the lessons from Nuremberg must never be forgotten. As years pass, memories fade. We forget that the cruel barbarian is not behind us, but always underneath us ready to rise up. We must always be vigilant. At Nuremberg, we saw the lowest of humanity. In the aspiration of human rights, we see the highest. Every generation must understand what happened in those dark times and renew and strengthen its commitment to basic human rights. What could be more British than that?

The Story of David Maxwell Fyfe

Published on 29 Nov 2019

It’s 1945 and World War II is finally over.

The Nuremberg Trials are held to bring justice for the millions who lost their lives to the Nazi’s. But how do you ensure that something like this never happens again? Lawyer and politician David Maxwell Fyfe had a hand in the answer: the European Convention of Human Rights.

Learn out how it all happened, and why it’s so important to remember the experiences of the past.

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