History •

Scanning Nuremberg: Ferocious courts and the electrical wolf

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written December 2, 2014

Scanning Nuremberg 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

The task for November was 12 files of prosecution evidence (document books 2 – 3L), holding 164 items and approximately 1410 pages.

The theme of the material is the increasing ferocity of the courts as the war progressed, with expanding jurisdiction of the People’s Courts and Special Courts and growing demands for death sentences to terrorize opponents of the regime. At the end of the war even this was considered inadequate, as political cases were turned over to courts martial for trial and execution, and at the very end it was just execution and no trial.

After the material on the general system in the earlier files, these files get into the details, where some permutations emerge from particular cases, which were well documented. Every system of power offers some points of leverage that can be manipulated. While expressions of doubt about the war were prosecuted as “defeatism” and an attack on military morale, one woman who was charged and convicted had friends who intervened in the appeals process. She was from an elite family, with powerful connections. While most appeals were from prosecutors seeking to change a prison sentence to a death sentence, hers was one of the very few successful defense appeals. Another “morale” crime was listening to Allied radio broadcasts, a capital offense. In one case, according to the official version, a patriotic housewife subordinated her family loyalties to her duty and told the police that her husband had been listening to London Radio. Trial and execution followed, as this was a charge he could not disprove. The rest of the file offers more details and a different scenario. This was an extremely unhappy couple, and a divorce would be difficult and slow; an accusation of a capital offense made for a simple and quick fix.

The issue of I and J: At one point in the trial transcript the prosecutor said (more or less), “I will now present evidence from document book 3-I.” Judge: “Don’t you mean 3-J?” The judge must have been looking at a copy of the document book, which definitely seems to say 3-J, with the letter written in by hand. Prosecutor: “No, this is 3-I; there is no 3-J.” I had followed the 3-J theory like the judge, but once the court accepted it as 3-I, that was it for the database too. This matters because we record the document book number/letter as part of the identification. Whatever the letter looks like (J), it means I. I added a note on this to the relevant entry. This set a record for the most time spent analyzing a single letter of the alphabet.

The case of the missing pages (and movie). One brief court session is missing from the transcript, with blank pages inserted. Fortunately there was some before-and-after discussion to identify what’s missing: the showing of a movie on the trial of the officers who tried to kill Hitler in 1944. An affidavit was introduced to identify the movie, which was coded as evidence NG 1019. The movie isn’t in the Case 3 document book, and it will be interesting to see what the NG set has for it, possibly a transcript of the movie’s text (NG1019a).

Mysterious phrase of the month: “annihilated by the electrical wolf on 5 November 1943” (NG 174). I haven’t found any explanation of what an electrical wolf was.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

The Harvard Law School 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 already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

Scanning Nuremberg: A unique meaning for “judicial reform”

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written November 2014

Scanning Nuremberg 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

NMT 3, The Justice Case [a.k.a. the Judges’ Trial]

When I began the trial analysis work at the beginning of October, all of the key materials were already in place—the Case 3 trial documents boxes, the trial transcript, and the “Green Set” of NMT trial reports—so I was able to start quickly, re-ordering some of the material, assembling basic information about Case 3 (the defendants, prosecutors, judges, main issues, etc.). I was able to begin document analysis after only one week of preparation—about one week faster than I had expected.

At the end of the month I had completed analysis of all the documents in the first box (15), including the indictment, prosecution briefs, opening and closing arguments, the tribunal’s decision and sentences (the most important document in the trial), and seven prosecution document books. These added up to 164 individual documents, so we now have more than 6000 documents in the database. The page count for the box is roughly 1700, giving an educated guess of about 12,750 pages for Case 3 as a whole.

Some patterns in the case are apparent. The evidence documents show that the defendants had not been shy about talking candidly about what they were up to during the war, such as various ways of killing captured Allied airmen (lynching by the local population, shooting by the army, or handing them over to the SS for execution), rather than sending them to POW camps as required by international law.

What is hard to absorb is that the judges and prosecutors consistently considered these actions to be a superior form of law and justice, so some of the most incriminating documents bear the title “judicial reform.” There is much discussion about Hitler’s policy (emphasized in a speech in 1942 as part of the war effort) of replacing traditional law and judicial decision-making with “authentically German” and Nazi principles and practices, and purging officials who were reluctant to go along or who had conflicting commitments. (This mind-set resembles that of the scientists and doctors in Case 1 who believed that by killing hostile or unwanted groups they were “healing” the body of the nation.)

The strangest item: One document says only “Missing 15-25,” and handling it was quite a challenge. This is a replacement page for an evidence document that had been included in a document book and then went missing, either by accident or by a decision to remove it (there’s no indication which was the case). The table of contents for the document book indicates what document had been there, so I have included the “Missing” page in the database, with a Note stating what evidence document had gone missing. Perhaps it will turn up elsewhere, or there may be some explanation of what had been done about it. This is the first document that has no substantive content, but it still has some form as a “ghost” of the missing text.

Next up: the second of three boxes of prosecution evidence.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

The Harvard Law School 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 already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

New series: Scanning Nuremberg

We’re pleased to announce a new series to our blog: Scanning Nuremberg.

Scanning Nuremberg will share 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. Matt shares not only the statistical progress of the project and behind-the-scenes of digitization, but insights into patterns of the cases, topics of testimony, ghosts of missing text, and mysterious phrases. We hope you’ll find his monthly observations as fascinating as we do.

Look for the first official post early next week; we’ll update every two weeks until we get caught up with Matt!

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Court in session at the Nuremberg Trials, olvgroup12379

Court in session at the Nuremberg Trials, Record Identifier: olvgroup12379

The Harvard Law School 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 already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

Downton Abbey and the Campbell Divorce Case

Hugh "Shrimpy" MacClare

Hugh “Shrimpy” MacClare

Post by Mary Person and Meg Kribble

Warning: this post contains spoilers through the February 22 broadcast of Downton Abbey in the United States!

Like many of you, we at the library enjoy watching and discussing the ITV/PBS Masterpiece series Downton Abbey. We’re always ready for a good story involving an entail! One of the issues that captured our attention more recently is the impending divorce (gasp!) between Hugh “Shrimpy” MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire, and his thoroughly unpleasant wife Susan. As we saw last week, even the threat of a divorce by the handsome Atticus Aldridge’s mother Lady Sinderby was enough to silence the perpetually dour Lord Sinderby into allowing the marriage of his son and Lady Rose MacClare to proceed.

In Victorian and Edwardian England, divorce was a source of shame and embarrassment, even a stain on the family name itself. The scandal of divorce among aristocrats caught the attention of everyone else, and provided sources of titillating reading along with public humiliation. Even now those stories live on in books and blogs. We discovered a modern account of one scandalous 19th-century  true story of the love, marriage, adultery, and divorce of one Lord and Lady Colin Campbell in the late nineteenth century at Rejected Princesses. (You can read more about her interesting biography at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.)

Lady Colin Campbell

Lady Colin Campbell, seq. 9 from The Campbell Divorce Case

As it happens, HLSL has an 1887 copy of The Campbell divorce case. Copious report of the trial. With numerous portraits of those concerned, drawn from life. With numerous portraits of those concerned, drawn from life, part of our collection Studies in Scarlet: Marriage & Sexuality in the U.S. and U.K. 1815-1914. Take a look at the digitized version. If nothing else, we recommend reading the scathing social commentary in the single-page preface to this case, brought to our attention by our colleague John Hostage. With commentary like “the skeleton of Society is there stript of its meretricious gloss and glitter, and laid bare to the public gaze in the full horror of its festering hideousness,” you’ll understand why divorce was the last thing socially-conscious aristocratic families wanted tarnishing their good names!

Fun bonus trivia: the Campbell case is the source of the phrase “what the butler saw.” During the trial, the entire jury visited the Campbell home to evaluate whether the butler could have seen Lady Campbell and a companion through a keyhole.

852 Rare: Libelous Kentucky Broadsides

In politically polarized times such as these, when it feels like election season is endless and the mudslinging between political parties is relentless, it’s easy to despair. It may seem that we’ve reached a new low in politics, but our colorful— and at times violent— historical record reminds us this is hardly the case.

The broadsides shown below come from a 1941 Harlan County, Kentucky election. Insults and wild accusations were hurled by both opponents, which ultimately resulted in a libel case.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4006542.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4006542.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard's suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4029348.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard’s suicides and self defense. : I want to ask you voters if you…, Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4029348.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After accusing each other of an array of offenses that range from dishonesty to drunk driving to bootlegging to murder, the candidates eventually had to sum things up for voters:

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4006542.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4006542.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard's suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4029348.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard’s suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4029348.

Although we have not been able to locate the results of this Harlan County election, we can learn something about the alternately spirited and vicious nature of Eastern Kentucky politics from this material. The accusations in the broadsides are part of a long history of election violence in the area, though these particular claims may in fact be false.

Interestingly, it seems that Harvard Law School’s Professor Zechariah Chafee probably gave these broadsides to the library. You can see his name penciled in the margins, as well as the date the broadsides were acquired by the library—November 15, 1947. Historical & Special Collections holds Professor Chafee’s professional papers, the contents of which you can explore through the collection’s finding aid. This material relates to Chafee’s work as a law teacher, legal scholar, and defender of civil liberties.

852 RARE: Was Reverend Sacheverell Dealt a Bad Hand?

Sacheverell Ace of Diamonds

Ace of Diamonds, Trial of Henry Sacheverell, HOLLIS no. 14148502

As regular readers of 852 RARE know, the HLS Library’s Historical & Special Collections houses a great collection of historical trial accounts from many jurisdictions, especially England and the United States. Our popular digital collection Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the US and UK, 1815-1914, gathers together some, but by no means all, of our trials.

Researchers read accounts of trials to learn about particular cases, of course. But trials are interesting for many other reasons, some scholarly and some just plain fun. In trial accounts we can learn about class distinctions, the intersection of law and medicine, the treatment of women and people of color, and the rise of the popular press, which produced trial literature to feed a voracious reading public.

How, then, could we resist adding The Trial of Henry Sacheverell to our collection? Dating from around 1710, this item is an uncut sheet of playing cards that tells the story of the trial of Rev. Sacheverell with a series of illustrations and satirical verse. Our sheet features 26 images of playing cards (hearts and diamonds), each with an image of a conventional playing card at the top, a mock-heroic couplet at the bottom, and an image of the event described in the center.

Trial of Henry Sacheverell playing cards

Trial of Henry Sacheverell, HOLLIS no. 14148502

Dr. Sacheverell was impeached by the Whig-dominated Parliament in 1710 for preaching two sermons that advocated the Tory doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience. As punishment, Sacheverell was forbidden to preach for three years and his two sermons were ordered to be burned. Many viewed him as a martyr. “Sacheverell Riots” erupted in London and other parts of the country, which led to the downfall of the Whig ministry in 1710 and the passing of the Riot Act in 1714.

Henry Sacheverell is well-represented in Harvard’s library collections, and many conventional accounts of his trial may be found in HOLLIS, the Harvard Library catalog.

852 RARE: New Acquisition with Strong Ties to Harvard Law

The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce this recent acquisition, a chair with a unique provenance story and strong ties to the Harvard Law School. This adjustable back armchair, commonly referred to as a Morris chair, was first owned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and used in his summer home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. The chair was included in a 1935 appraisal of Holmes’ personal property in his Beverly Farms home, “Mahogany Morris Chair,” item 357. After his death, his nephew and niece Edward and Mary Stacy Holmes purchased the chair from his estate as part of a larger group of items paid for May 26, 1936. They gifted it to Felix and Marion Frankfurter in 1939, probably in honor of his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holmes and Frankfurter met in 1912 and carried on a close friendship until Holmes’ death in 1935. Several years before his death, Holmes chose Frankfurter as his biographer. Part of their friendship included Frankfurter selecting Holmes’ secretary from the Harvard Law School’s graduating class; among those selected was Mark De Wolfe Howe. Howe served as Holmes’ secretary from 1933-1934 and later became Justice Holmes’ official biographer.

In a letter dated April 30, 1963, Frankfurter wrote to Howe: “One of the things that just crossed my mind is what disposition to make of the Holmes chair when the time comes to bow to the inevitable. . . . After some reflection and with Marion’s warm concurrence, I should like the Holmes chair to come to you when I can no longer occupy it, and the reason for this desire is because of the feeling the old gentleman had about you and particularly his feeling of gratitude to you.” The chair remained in Frankfurters possession until his death in February 1965. Later that year Frankfurter’s executor made arrangements to deliver the chair to Howe’s home.

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his Brookline residence Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his
Brookline residence
Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

Howe did not have much time with the chair, surviving Frankfurter by just two years. Howe’s daughters eventually gave the chair to Harvard Law School alumnus, professor, and former Frankfurter clerk John H. Mansfield. Mansfield had strong ties to both Frankfurter and Howe. In a 1963 letter to his secretary Elsie Douglas, Frankfurter named Mansfield as one of a few individuals “whom I deem wholly qualified to write my judicial biography.” Howe and Mansfield spent nine years together on the Harvard Law School faculty and like Holmes and Frankfurter carried on a close friendship. Mansfield greatly enjoyed the chair, sitting in it every day after work and explaining to visitors the story of the legal greats who sat in the chair before him.

All of the chair’s former owners were Harvard Law School alumni and faculty members so it is extremely fitting that the chair’s final home should be the Law School.

The chair is the gift of John Howard Mansfield and Maria Luisa F. Mansfield and can be viewed in the Caspersen Room, 4th floor, Harvard Law School Library.

 

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

New Exhibit: Life Beyond the Law

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce its new exhibit Life Beyond the Law: Exploring Student Life Outside the Harvard Law School Classroom is now on view in the Caspersen Room on the fourth floor of Langdell Hall.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

This exhibit examines the experiences of Harvard Law School students from the mid-1840s to the present. It focuses on life outside the classroom along the themes of off-campus activities, leisure and the arts, and athletics. Largely told in their own words, this exhibit gives a glimpse into the lives of individual students whose experiences are captured in letters to friends and family, personal diaries, student publications, and photographs.

Curated by Jane Kelly and Lesley Schoenfeld, Life Beyond the Law will be on view in the Caspersen Room 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM through December 12, 2014. A companion website to this exhibit can be found here.

852 RARE: Last Chance to View Summer Exhibits!

If you have not had a chance to view the exhibits in the Library’s Caspersen Room, now is the time! Our special copy of the Declaration of Independence, generously lent by Marc (HLS 1984) and Robin Wolpow and family, is on view through Friday August 15. And the last day of our summer exhibit, Spanning the Centuries: an Exhibit of Recent Acquisitions 1579-1868, is Friday August 22. The Caspersen Room is open weekdays 9 to 5. 

Watch this space for news of our fall exhibits, coming soon!

852 : RARE – After the Bastille was Stormed

On July 14, 1789 French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a prison that served as a symbol of the unjust treatment of the French citizenry by the monarchy, thus sparking the French Revolution. King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were dethroned during the revolution, tried and found guilty of treason, and executed by way of the guillotine.

Historical & Special Collections (HSC) holds many volumes relating to Louis XVI’s trial for those researchers interested in the ultimate demise of France’s last monarch.

Le Procès de Louis XVI, ou, Collection complette des opinions, discours et mémoires des membres de la Convention nationale, sur les crimes de Louis XVI, ouvrage enrichi des diverses pìeces justificatives ... (Hollis 004040555)

Le Procès de Louis XVI, ou, Collection complette des opinions, discours et mémoires des membres de la Convention nationale, sur les crimes de Louis XVI, ouvrage enrichi des diverses pìeces justificatives … (Hollis 004040555)

Proces de Louis XVI...

[Procès de Louis XVI, ci-devant roi des francais, imprimé par ordre de la convention nationale.] (Hollis 004390413)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One volume, The Trial at Large of Louis XVI. Late King of France. Containing a Most Complete and Authentic Narrative of every Interesting and Important Circumstance Attending the Accusation — Trial, Defence, Sentence — Execution, &c. of this Unfortunate Monarch. (Hollis 004039665) is available online through Making of Modern Law, Trials 1600-1926. HSC has contributed a number of titles to this online resource, which is available to users with a Harvard ID and PIN. Included in this text is King Louis XVI’s defense of his fleeing Paris with his family – the primary impetus of the treason charge. He writes “….the motives which induced me to quit Paris: – They were, the threats and outrages committed again[s]t my family and my[s]elf, and which have been circulated in different publications; and all the[s]e in[s]ults have remained unpuni[s]hed.  I thence thought it was neither [s]afe nor proper for me to remain any longer in Paris; but, in quitting the capital, I never had an intention of going out of the kingdom (pg. 20).” The account of Marie Antoinette’s trial (Hollis 013967138) is also available through Making of Modern Law.

First page of Opinion de Huet de Guerville sur le procès de Louis XVI. (Hollis 004390530)

First page of Opinion de Huet de Guerville sur le procès de Louis XVI. (Hollis 004390530)

Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of King Louis XVI's lawyers in his treason trial. (olvwork_188663)

Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of King Louis XVI’s lawyers in his treason trial. (olvwork_188663)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers interested in this historical moment can also find two portraits of Chertien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of the lawyers to King Louis XVI during his treason trial, in HSC’s visual collections and made available on VIA. Malesherbes came out of retirement in order to defend the King, whom he had served in his younger years. Despite being generally well-liked and respected, Malesherbes also met the same demise as the King and Queen, beheaded at the guillotine in 1794.