Faculty Channel • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Book Talk: Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings, Monday, March 26, 2018, at noon, with lunch.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings (George H. Gadbois, Jr., edited and introduced by Vikram Raghavan & Vasujith Ram, Oxford Univ. Press, Feb. 22, 2018). The book talk discussion will include: Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law; Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University; Mitra Sharafi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin School of Law; and Vasujith Ram, LLM student, Harvard Law School. This talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library, the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, and the Harvard South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA).

Monday, March 26, 2018
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings

About Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings

“This work seeks to determine the roles played by the paramount judiciary in the Indian polity between 1937 and 1964. The discussion starts with an examination of the Federal Court, the establishment of which in 1937 brought into existence Indias first central judicial institution. After a consideration of events leading to the creation of the Federal Court, the nature of its jurisdiction and representative decisions are analysed. Other matters considered include the relationship of the Federal Court with the Privy Council, and the unsuccessful efforts made to empower the Federal Court with a jurisdiction to hear civil appeals. In addition, the major part of this work is devoted to the present Supreme Court of India, which replaced the Federal Court in 1950. After discussing the general features of the new judicial establishment, attention is focused upon the nature of its review powers and the manner in which the Court can exercise these powers. Against the background of debates in the Constituent Assembly that reflect the attitudes of the Constitution-makers towards judicial review, the important decisions which provoked clashes between the judges and politicians have been analysed.” — Oxford University Press

Panelists

Mark Tushnet

 

 

 

Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

 

Sugata Bose

 

 

 

Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University

 

Mitra Sharafi

 

 

 

Mitra Sharafi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School

 

Vasujith Ram

 

 

 

Vasujith Ram, LLM student, Harvard Law School

Scanning Nuremberg: Wrapping up NMT9 and a preview of the IMT

Post by  Matt Seccombe, March 2, 2018

After I finished the analysis of the trial documents in the Einsatzgruppen case, NMT 9, in early January, I split my time between two tasks. The first was to scan the last 1500 pages of the trial transcript for any document-related information I had not previously found. My earlier work proved to be sufficient, as no new documents turned up. The transcript did offer some interesting dialogue, however, including an exchange between a judge and a defense attorney giving his final argument. The judge, who had a mimeo copy of the argument, interrupted to advise the attorney that if he used a certain sentence in the final paragraph, it would do him no good and the judge would have to comment on the sentence—which would not be pleasant for either party. The attorney stated that if there was anything wrong in the text it must be due to a translation error since he did not intend to say anything that would give offense. He omitted the specified sentence. Neither one, of course, stated what was in that unuttered sentence.

The second task was to look ahead at the IMT, the International Military Tribunal of 1945-46, the trial of the “major war criminals” (Goering et al.). The first question was “what do we have?” The answer was thirty-two boxes of trial documents, not counting two copies of the trial transcript and several boxes of Soviet documents in Russian. These broke down into 19 boxes of US and British trial documents, 6 boxes from the IMT commission on criminal organizations, and 7 boxes with a smaller set of trial documents (mostly duplicating the first set). I looked at each folder in each box to create a folder-level map of the collection. The trial documents sort out in three stages: 1. pre-trial material and the prosecution documents on the general charges (conspiracy, aggressive warfare, war crimes, crimes against humanity); 2. prosecution and defense documents concerning each defendant; 3. documents on the organizations.

We decided to begin work on the first stage, beginning with the pre-trial documents and other heterogeneous IMT-related documents that were stored (in no particular order) in two boxes, before moving on to the core trial documents (arguments, briefs, and evidence in document books). During February I analyzed 77 documents and 1471 pages of material in the two boxes.

Heterogeneous does not mean trivial; in fact, these boxes hold the most important IMT documents: the London Agreement and charter that established the IMT in August 1945; the indictment in several drafts, from the first in August to marked-up page proofs in October; and a copy of the Tribunal judgment, spelling out the findings, verdicts, and sentences. Among the lesser documents was an analysis of Goering’s bank accounts (he was not poor), Robert Ley’s last will to his family (before he hanged himself), and a report by the US “Monuments Men” unit on Hitler’s project to assemble Europe’s cultural treasures for a museum and library in Austria.

Much of this material was collected by Ralph Albrecht, one of the US prosecutors (and HLS graduate). One was a memo outlining prosecution strategy for cross-examining defendants and their witnesses, emphasizing the need to avoid prolonging the trial. The memo was signed simply “A.,” but the folder was signed with the full name with an identical capital, “Albrecht.” Among his reasons for the strategy were a need to keep the attention of the press, support in public opinion, the complications of the peace negotiations, and the need to protect “the solid reputation of the Justice [Robert Jackson] for statesmanship and advocacy.”

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

 

 

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

Book Talk: Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America, Monday, March 19, 2018, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America (Harper Collins, Mar. 6, 2018), edited by Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University.  The book talk discussion will also include Jack L. Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and contributor to Can It Happen Here?.

Copies of Can It Happen Here? will be available for sale courtesy of the Harvard Law School COOP and Professor Sunstein will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.

Poster Can It Happen Here?

Monday, March 19, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America

“With the election of Donald J. Trump, many people on both the left and right feared that America’s 240-year-old grand experiment in democracy was coming to an end, and that Sinclair Lewis’ satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here, written during the dark days of the 1930s, could finally be coming true. Is the democratic freedom that the United States symbolizes really secure? Can authoritarianism happen in America?

Acclaimed legal scholar, Harvard Professor, and New York Times bestselling author Cass R. Sunstein queried a number of the nation’s leading thinkers. In this thought-provoking collection of essays, these distinguished thinkers and theorists explore the lessons of history, how democracies crumble, how propaganda works, and the role of the media, courts, elections, and “fake news” in the modern political landscape—and what the future of the United States may hold.” — Harper Collins

About Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations.

Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including Republic.com (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013), Why Nudge? (2014), Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas (2014), Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State (2014), Constitutional Personae: Heroes, Soldiers, Minimalists, and Mutes (2015), Choosing Not to Choose: Understanding the Value of Choice (2015), Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter (2015), The World According to Star Wars (2016), #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media (2017), and Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide (2017). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty.

Contributor and Commentator

Jack Goldsmith

 

 

 

 

Jack L. Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

 

More About Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America

“A renowned legal scholar assembles a dream team of other legal authorities and cultural and political analysists to ponder the title, substance, and current relevance of It Can’t Happen Here…Cautionary pieces well-informed by history, legal theory, and patriotism, all bubbling in a cauldron of anxiety.” — Kirkus

Book Talk: The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution, Fri., March 9, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution by Judge Stephen F. Williams (Encounter Books, Nov. 7, 2017).  Stephen F. Williams is a Harvard Law School graduate and is Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He will be joined in conversation with Joshua Rubenstein, Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University and Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School, and author of The Last Days of Stalin (Yale Univ. Press, 2016) and also, with Alexis Peri, Assistant Professor of History at Boston University and author of The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad (Harvard Univ. Press 2017).  This talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Russian Law Students Association.

The Reformer Poster

Friday, March 9, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution

“Besides absolutists of the right (the tsar and his adherents) and left (Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks), the Russian political landscape in 1917 featured moderates seeking liberal reform and a rapid evolution toward towards a constitutional monarchy. Vasily Maklakov, a lawyer, legislator and public intellectual, was among the most prominent of these, and the most articulate and sophisticated advocate of the rule of law, the linchpin of liberalism.

This book tells the story of his efforts and his analysis of the reasons for their ultimate failure. It is thus, in part, an example for movements seeking to liberalize authoritarian countries today—both as a warning and a guide.

Although never a cabinet member or the head of his political party—the Constitutional Democrats or “Kadets”—Maklakov was deeply involved in most of the political events of the period. He was defense counsel for individuals resisting the regime (or charged simply for being of the wrong ethnicity, such as Menahem Beilis, sometimes considered the Russian Dreyfus). He was continuously a member of the Kadets’ central committee and their most compelling orator. As a somewhat maverick (and moderate) Kadet, he stood not only between the country’s absolute extremes (the reactionary monarchists and the revolutionaries), but also between the two more or less liberal centrist parties, the Kadets on the center left, and the Octobrists on the center right. As a member of the Second, Third and Fourth Dumas (1907-1917), he advocated a wide range of reforms, especially in the realms of religious freedom, national minorities, judicial independence, citizens’ judicial remedies, and peasant rights.” — Encounter Books

About Judge Stephen F. Williams

Stephen F, Williams graduated from Harvard Law School in 1961 and practiced in the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York; he then served as a professor of law at the University of Colorado and as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, UCLA and Southern Methodist University. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Reagan in 1986. His first book on Russian history, Liberal Reform in an Illiberal Regime: The Creation of Private Property Rights in Russia, 1906-15, addressed an effort to enhance peasant property rights, launched in a brief surge of reformist activity.

Panelists

Joshua Rubenstein

 

 

Joshua Rubenstein, Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University and Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School

 

Alexis Peri

 

 

 

Alexis Peri, Assistant Professor of History at Boston University

 

More About The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution

“The Reformer illuminates the life and times of Vasily Maklakov, one of the most remarkable lives during the most turbulent times in Russia’s history. Maklakov’s attempts to avoid revolution by bringing about revolutionary reform failed, but his course and his arguments should not be forgotten. . . . The Reformer is an essential book for anyone interested in Russian history, but its story is still all too relevant today, when freedom and the rule of law are under assault around the globe.”  — Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped

“Through extensive research, crystal-clear writing, and a keen and comprehensive understanding of his subject matter, Stephen F. Williams makes a truly important contribution to the study of the last years of tsarism and the efforts of one individual to try to make a difference. . . . Williams demonstrates a real mastery of the literature and original source material . . . and brings it altogether in a most readable and informative way.” — David J. Kramer, Senior Fellow, Florida International University and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

“Williams’s study is impressive, informative, gripping. In the considerable overlap between the skills of a good lawyer and a good historian, Williams shines.” — Lars Lih, author of Lenin (2011) and Lenin Rediscovered (2008)

“A liberal rule of law is under attack worldwide, from Manila to Moscow. Judge Williams has written a lucid, brilliant account of a modern turning point―the failure of Russia to take the liberal direction it could have taken in 1917. . . . Williams has entire command of the historical sources for his tale, told in graceful prose. . . . We are not that far gone in losing the liberal vision of law. But to not remember the history is to risk repeating it.” — Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago


“This is an unusual and in so many ways a brilliant book. It aims to explain the failure of the rule of law in the decades before the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, through the biography of a key liberal figure of that era, Vasily Maklakov. There is no other work like this one, for there is no other written by a leading jurist who also happens to publish seriously as a historian of Russia.” — Daniel T. Orlovsky, Professor and George Bouhe Research Fellow in Russian Studies, Southern Methodist University

Book Talk: American Capitalism: New Histories, Wednesday, March 7th, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for American Capitalism: New Histories (Columbia Univ. Press, Feb. 13, 2018), edited by Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University Department of History, and by Christine A. Desan, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law.  Professor Beckert and Professor Desan will be joined by commentators: Bethany Moreton, Professor of History, Dartmouth College; Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University; and Seth E. Rockman, Associate Professor of History, Brown University.  This talk is co-sponsored by the Tax & Financial Regulation Students Association and the Harvard Russian Law Students Association.

American Capitalism Poster

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About American Capitalism: New Histories

“The United States has long epitomized capitalism. From its enterprising shopkeepers, wildcat banks, violent slave plantations, huge industrial working class, and raucous commodities trade to its world-spanning multinationals, its massive factories, and the centripetal power of New York in the world of finance, America has come to symbolize capitalism for two centuries and more. But an understanding of the history of American capitalism is as elusive as it is urgent. What does it mean to make capitalism a subject of historical inquiry? What is its potential across multiple disciplines, alongside different methodologies, and in a range of geographic and chronological settings? And how does a focus on capitalism change our understanding of American history?

American Capitalism presents a sampling of cutting-edge research from prominent scholars. These broad-minded and rigorous essays venture new angles on finance, debt, and credit; women’s rights; slavery and political economy; the racialization of capitalism; labor beyond industrial wage workers; and the production of knowledge, including the idea of the economy, among other topics. Together, the essays suggest emerging themes in the field: a fascination with capitalism as it is made by political authority, how it is claimed and contested by participants, how it spreads across the globe, and how it can be reconceptualized without being universalized. A major statement for a wide-open field, this book demonstrates the breadth and scope of the work that the history of capitalism can provoke.” — Columbia University Press

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University and cofounder of the Program on the Study of Capitalism. He is the author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (2014).

Christine Desan is Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University and cofounder of the Program on the Study of Capitalism. She is the author of Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism (2014).

Panelists

Bethany Moreton

 

 

 

Bethany Moreton, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

 

 

Michael Ralph

 

 

 

Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

 

 

 

 

 

Seth E. Rockman, Associate Professor of History, Brown University

 

More About American Capitalism: New Histories

“Sven Beckert and Christine Desan are leaders in the burgeoning history of capitalism field, and they have put together a volume of outstanding scholars whose essays, in their chronological reach and subject matter, show this new literature at its best. A very fine and promising collection.” — Steven Hahn, New York University

“This stunning volume not only captures the most vibrant, challenging work in the history of capitalism, but also distills the central themes and defining contributions of the field. The essays speak to all historians, not just those working in the history of capitalism. A must read.” — Laura F. Edwards, Duke University

“American Capitalism represents the coming of age of a field of historical research. Rarely, in any field, has one volume featured the work of so many talented and accomplished historians. Each chapter breaks fresh ground and proposes new lines of inquiry. The editors have assembled a landmark and agenda-setting book that no student of economic life in the United States can afford to ignore.” — Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago

“From the creditor constitution to the market for slave clothing to early American mercantilist thinking, this deftly curated book samples some of the best work that the history of capitalism literature has to offer. Readers interested in new and provocative explorations of the politics, law, and culture enmeshed in American economic institutions need look no further.” — Suresh Naidu, Columbia University

“Few historical subfields are more important and timely than the critical history of capitalism. In this volume, Sven Beckert and Christine Desan have assembled cutting-edge work on topics as diverse as slavery, credit, insurance and risk, financial crises, race, gender, agriculture, and law and regulation. These essays combine chronological breadth, analytical depth, and geographic scope, linking the micro and macro, the local and the global. Essential reading.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, New York University

Digital Wall Street Journal access is here!

Front page of the first issue of the Wall Street Journal, Wikimedia commons

We’re happy to announce that HLSL has, in collaboration with the Harvard Library, secured a subscription to the digital Wall Street Journal. Digital membership is available to all current Harvard faculty, students and staff, and includes unlimited access via WSJ.com or the WSJ app. Use this link to sign up for an account.

If you need technical assistance with the sign-up process, please contact the WSJ directly at 1-800-568-7625 as they will be better able to assist you with the sign up process.

For information about Harvard access to FT.com, NYTimes.com, Mass Lawyers’ Weekly, historical WSJ, other popular newspapers, and getting started with newspaper research at Harvard, visit our guide to newspapers for the HLS community.

Scanning Nuremberg: some humble details and curiosity on the bench

Post by Matt Seccombe, January 16, 2018

In December and early January, I worked through the papers of six Case 9 defendants, covering 169 documents and 895 pages of material. The sixth, Strauch, was the last defendant to present his case, so, subject to some double-checking, all the Case 9 trial documents have now been identified and analyzed—1129 documents and ca. 6700 pages. The remaining task is to finish the review of the transcript, 1800 pages to go, to find additional information that needs to be added to the analysis of the documents, such as whether an exhibit offered by one side and objected to by the other was finally accepted or not by the tribunal. We now have six of the Nuremberg trials done, NMT 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 9, and a total of 11,400 documents analyzed.

Humble details: The final defendants in the trial, coincidentally or not, included two who were ill and whose capability to stand trial was in doubt (one case was severed, the other remained) and several men who were minor figures in the einsatz program. The most minor of them all was Matthias Graf, who did not fit the indictment’s target of German officers who had command roles in the einsatzgruppen. Graf was not an officer at all; he started the war as a corporal and rose no higher than sergeant during the operation, and his duties were primarily clerical. This was well established by one exhibit: copies of postcards his wife had sent to him during war, with the address spelling out his lowly rank. (Graf was found not guilty of the major charges, and was released due to time served on the lesser charge of membership in a criminal organization.)

Curiosity on the bench: In the late stages of the trial the defendants’ cases became highly repetitive variations on a few themes (“I wasn’t there at the time,” “I was working on other assignments,” “I was a staff member, not a commanding officer,” etc.), which could make the proceedings tedious—though for each defendant it was important to make his argument at full length, given the prospect of a death sentence if found guilty of conducting mass executions.  One response to the repetition was an occasional loss of patience in the court, though the judges, prosecutors, defendants, and defense attorneys were almost always courteous and often considerate of one another, with a few awkward exceptions. Another response was to explore some small point that a judge found interesting. One was curious about the Yuletide candlesticks that the SS gave to officers (part of the SS effort to develop non-Christian rituals), so a defense attorney provided a picture of one as a show-and-tell. In the Graf case, the court tried to find out just how much or little a junior staff member might have learned about the orders to liquidate Jews and other groups on the eastern front. The following (paraphrased) exchange occurred:

Judge: Did you ever attend a conference or meeting where the order was explained?
Graf: No. Only senior officers would have attended such a meeting.
Judge: Did you ever meet Himmler or Heydrich?
Graf: I did see Himmler once.
Judge: How did that happen, and did you speak with him?
Graf: He came to where we were stationed, and had supper with the officers. As the junior person on the staff I was assigned to wait on him at the table.
Judge: Was it a good meal?
Graf: Well, I would rather have that supper than what we are served here in prison.
Judge: If you could do that again today, would you want to serve Himmler his supper?
Graf: No, I would not want to do that again.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

 

 

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

Scanning Nuremberg: jokes and consequences, illness and honor, and more

Post by Matt Seccombe, November 30, 2017

The Scanning Nuremberg series shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

During November, I worked through the papers of five defendants, amounting to 157 documents and 724 pages. For those tracking the numbers, the document and page numbers are lower than in previous months, for two reasons: several work days “lost” to holidays, and diseconomies of scale. Some of the defendants offered few documents but spent several days testifying on the stand, so that I had to spend a lot of time skimming through the transcript for information, particularly to find where documents were entered and where previously-entered documents (notably prosecution exhibits) were discussed by the defendants in direct examination and cross-examination by the prosecutors. Those second and third appearances of documents are noted in the database entries for those documents, sometimes with more information for the analysis. As the defendants follow one another, their arguments became highly repetitive, but additional light sometimes appears, as well as curious moments.

Joke and consequences: Hans Steinwede’s affidavit recounted that in 1943 he had travelled to get spare parts but left his ration card behind, so he was unable to get food. Hungry and frustrated, he exclaimed, “There goes the house-painter from Austria, starts a war and we have got no chow; while Goering is getting fatter and fatter.” Making fun of Hitler was not a smart move, and he was reported. He was sentenced to 21 days in jail on bread and water, and considered himself lucky since one of the defendants had protected him from a harsher penalty.

Illness or honor?: Defendant Biberstein described a military officer he had dealt with, commenting, “He wanted to earn his sore throat.” The tribunal obviously did not understand the phrase, so the attorney explained that for the officer, a sore throat meant the Iron Cross medal, which was worn around the neck.

Metaphors: The defense attorneys used various images to emphasize the role of the defendants and the situation they faced. Braune’s attorney characterized him, accurately if not imaginatively, as “no more than a small cog in a large machine.” In contrast, Ott’s attorney painted the big picture of the German-Soviet war in a remarkable sentence: “All conceptions of the occident concerning man and state, space and time, technology and war and might and right were exploded in this unfathomable land of released demons.” (This argument was backed up by more prosaic evidence: the Hitler/Keitel “terror order” of July 1941 stating that the security forces, e.g., the einsatzgruppen, in the occupied territories were not to operate by “legal sentences”; security could be achieved only if “the occupying power spreads a terror which alone is capable of depriving the population of every wish to resist.”)

The relevance rule: After the prosecution objected to much of Nosske’s defense case on the grounds that it was not relevant to the charges, his attorney appealed to the tribunal, and the presiding judge assured him that “We will allow you to discuss anything and everything with the exception of the social life of the penguins in the Antarctic zone.” The judges were tired of excessive detail and long explanations, however, so the attorney was asked to “rein in” his client so “that he does not gallop off into fields of unnecessary detail.” (The defense attorneys were not alone in their weakness for metaphors.)

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

 

 

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

Scanning Nuremberg: tactics and five of the NMT 9 defendants

Post by Matt Seccombe, November 3, 2017

The Scanning Nuremberg series shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

During October I analyzed 197 documents (1045 pages) spanning five of the NMT Case 9 defendants (it helped that one defendant offered only one document before his case was severed due to illness).

Documentary infallibility? When the prosecutor cross-examined Sandberger about a promotion recorded in his SS personnel file, Sandberger claimed that the record was inaccurate in several respects. The prosecutor responded: “The memory of man might fail. Records, if they are not destroyed, stand.” Grand rhetoric, but those of us who do documentary history know that those records are often riddled with errors ranging from flawed information to omissions to simple typos, so they stand on shaky foundations.

The equivalency tactic: The defendants were charged with exterminating Communists and Jews, and in response two of them submitted wartime reports on Soviet “extermination units” and the capture of an “extermination battalion” composed of fanatic Communists and “very many Jews” whose task was to commit sabotage and kill German troops behind the lines. The implied argument was that the German-Soviet war was one of extermination and the einsatz operation was a sort of self-defense.

A vocabulary tactic: In an elaboration of the basic “superior orders” defense, Blume’s attorney attempted to dress up with argument with the doctrine of “unexpectability” (an echo of Cardozo’s term “foreseeability” to establish when liability applies in negligence cases). The claim was that the court could not hold someone responsible for committing a crime when it was “unexpectable” that he had a free choice of whether to do the deed or not, and it was “unexpectable” that a German could freely choose to disobey an order issued by Hitler. The point did not change the issue, and the polysyllables may have been counterproductive as a rhetorical flourish before notably skeptical judges.

The price of disobedience: One fact that worked against the defendants who used the superior orders argument, including the threat of execution for disobeying an order during the war (a threat that Himmler made explicit to his officers), was that none of them had been executed or even prosecuted for their attempts to avoid conducting mass executions. Defendant Rasch explained that the threat operated by a back channel. He had learned from the experience of other SS officers that if he had openly defied Hitler’s order, he would have been sent to a concentration camp “and then to one of the so-called ‘lost battalions’ (Verlorener Haufen) whose members were assigned to especially dangerous tasks and thus systematically annihilated.” There was good logic in the point, as no organization, certainly not the SS, wants to publicize the disloyalty of a senior official (as a trial and execution would have done); it is much better to quietly dispose of the problem. One of the defendants deemed “too soft” by the SS had indeed been stripped of his rank and was slated for reassignment on the Russian front.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

 

 

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

Scanning Nuremberg: halfway through NMT 9

Post by Matt Seccombe, October 9, 2017

The Scanning Nuremberg series shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

During September I analyzed 171 defense documents in the Einsatzgruppen Case (NMT 9), amounting to 1299 pages of material, finishing the papers of one defendant I had started in August, completing three other defendants, and starting the documents of another. The numbers are adding up: with more than 600 documents done, I am now half-way through the NMT 9 trial documents. On a larger scale, given our estimated total of 40,000 trial documents in the collection, more than 25 percent of them have now been analyzed, for six trials (out of thirteen).

The unhelpful witness: One major claim by many defendants was that they were not present when einsatzgruppen units conducted mass executions. Franz Six, whose Vorkommando Moscow unit had been assigned to secure Soviet records when the German army occupied Moscow, claimed that he returned to Germany once the advance stalled—before the commando received orders to conduct executions in occupied territory. Six’s attorney called Veronika Vetter, an ethnic German who had been in Russia at the time, to verify the date of his departure. On the stand, however, she stated that he was still in Russia on the key date. Six’s attorney forced Vetter through prolonged questioning and submitted multiple documents in a highly unpersuasive attempt to prove that his own witness was wrong.

Transcript-document loop: Erwin Schulz presented his testimony in mid-October 1947 without having his documentary evidence ready. While his fourth document book was found in the transcript at the point where the final evidence was being submitted, three books remained unaccounted for. After flipping through 1500 pages, I found that in mid-November, in a short interval between other (unrelated) proceedings, his attorney quickly introduced his first two document books (63 items). I had already analyzed these documents, but now could go back in the database and add the exhibit numbers, clarify some anomalies, and note a few errors in how the documents were identified in the transcript. The two sources—the documents and the transcript—enrich each other and also correct each other. (The third document book is still lurking somewhere in the transcript for discovery later.)

Dropping the wrong name: One of the rationales for the executions in Russia was that they were reprisal executions in punishment for attacks and sabotage by partisans—which was the primary charge in the Hostage Case (NMT 7)—with the defendants arguing that this was permitted under international law. In NMT 7 the defense pointed out that Allied officials in occupied Germany had authorized reprisal executions of German civilians in case of attacks by Nazi partisans. Picking up on NMT 7 testimony, Paul Blobel asserted on the stand that reprisal executions had been authorized by a French commander, by Soviet officials in Berlin, and—at a ratio of 200 German deaths for one American—by General Eisenhower. The judge would have none of it. He asked if Blobel had proof of Eisenhower’s order; Blobel said he had heard the story; the judge asked if any defendant or attorney had evidence; no one did. Under the judge’s glare, Blobel first withdrew the claim and then apologized for it. Had he limited himself to the French and Soviet reprisal orders he would have had strong evidence for his argument, but in the US courtroom at Nuremberg, Eisenhower was beyond reproach.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

 

 

The HLS Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

%d bloggers like this: