History • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Scanning Nuremberg: Ring of Silence

Post by Matt Seccombe, October 2, 2018

During September I worked through the final IMT prosecution documents covering count 2 (aggression), including the war against the US, and began the documents for counts 3 and 4 (war crimes and crimes against humanity, which were presented together), skipping forced labor (those documents are missing from our set), covering the concentration camp system, and the beginning of the persecution and extermination of the Jews (about which, more next month). The document analysis covered 88 documents and 601 pages of material. A lot of “overhead” time was required to track the documents in the transcript and get the relevant files identified and sorted out.

War against the US: Germany’s declaration of war on 11 December 1941 attributed the war to acts of aggression by the US navy, presumably in the course of the US effort to assist Britain. There was no mention of Japan or the events of December 7. Privately, however, Hitler expressed his approval to the Japanese a few days later: “one should strike—as hard as possible, indeed—and not waste time declaring war.” The Germans continued to press Japan to adopt a strategy that would help Germany: to attack the USSR from the east, which would indirectly lead to a British collapse and the isolation of the US. (The US and Britain engaged in similar strategic triangulation late in the war, urging the USSR to attack Japan, which it did at the end of the war.)

Evidence from the camps: The US prosecutor presented one particularly vivid exhibit from Buchenwald, as recorded in the transcript: “This exhibit, which is on the table, is a human head with the skull removed, shrunken, stuffed, and preserved. The Nazis had one of their many victims decapitated, after having had him hanged apparently for fraternizing with a German woman, and fashioned this terrible ornament from his head.”

The ring of silence: In the Justice Case (NMT 3) some defendants claimed that they had no knowledge of crimes committed in SS camps because the SS surrounded them with a “steel ring of silence.” This began at Dachau in 1933, where the commandant’s regulations provided that “agitators” would be hung. Agitators included anyone who “collects true or false information about the concentration camp . . ., receives such information, buries it, talks about it to others, smuggles it out of the camp . . . conceals it in clothing or other articles, throws stones and other objects over the camp wall containing such informations . . . [or] seeks contact with the outside by giving light or other signals . . . .” The punishment reflects the brutality of the regime, but the list of prohibited actions also suggests the determination and ingenuity of the inmates who tried to break through the secrecy.

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: “When Barbarossa commences, the world will hold its breath and make no comment.”

Post by Matt Seccombe, September 7, 2018

During August I continued with the IMT prosecution documents for Crimes against Peace (Count 2), following the expansion of the war after the attack on Poland and the beginning of the war with Britain and France. This covered, in succession, the Nazi attacks on Norway and Denmark; Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg; Yugoslavia and Greece; and the Soviet Union. (The files on the war with the United States will complete the set.) This covered 116 documents and 472 pages of material. (A water leak in the building required the removal of the documents for safekeeping for two days, reducing production somewhat.) Count 2 covers the outbreak of the war; the crimes committed during the war will be covered by Counts 3 and 4, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Inconvenient timing: In January 1940, while Germany was proclaiming its respect for neutral countries, a German plane had to make a forced landing in Belgium, and one document found in the plane was a set of orders stating details of the planned occupation of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France. Hitler had been more candid in a conference in August 1939: “Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other.”

Guarding the flanks: One common element in the German attacks in the north, west, and south was a need to block British attacks from the North Sea, the Channel, and the Mediterranean. In the planning conferences, Britain was the opponent that Hitler took most seriously. (He considered the USSR to be vast but weak and the US too distant to be a serious threat.) By similar logic, Hitler wanted to threaten his enemies on their flanks, including calls for Japan to attack the USSR and the British Empire in Asia. One consequence of these multiple occupations was that the German military ended up being spread thin over several fronts.

Barbarossa: Hitler explained the rationale for the invasion of the USSR concisely in June 1941, citing Germany’s need for oil and other resources: “What one does not have, but needs, one must conquer.” His prediction for the world’s reaction, made in February 1941: “When Barbarossa commences, the world will hold its breath and make no comment.” His planners made another prediction for the results of the German occupation: “many millions of people [in Russia] will be starved to death.”

The tale of page 62: One of the most important prosecution documents was a speech General Jodl made in 1943 on the background and progress of the war. The full text was entered, and various extracts were also presented to note particular issues. In the primary text, however, page 62 is missing; 307 documents further along, a one-page extract carried a hanger-on: page 62. This raised the question of what to do with the page. From an historian’s point of view I was inclined to move the page to where it should have been, thus providing a complete text of the speech. From an archival point of view, however, the page had been placed with the extract in a separate file in 1945 and had arrived at HLS in that file. The accidental misplacement had become a “fact.” Outcome: page 62 remains where it was, in the second document with the extract, with cross-references between the two documents in the database.

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.

852 RARE: “This is Neil Chayet, Looking at the Law”

The Harvard Law School Library is excited to announce that it recently received a unique collection of material from the family of Harvard Law School (HLS) alumnus, jurist, and popular radio personality Neil Chayet (HLS ’63). Comprised of more than 10,000 individual transcripts and several thousand corresponding minute-long radio broadcast recordings, the collection represents almost the entirety of Neil Chayet’s “Looking at the Law” radio program which aired on various Boston and national radio stations from 1976-2017.

A native of Massachusetts and the son of a district court judge, Neil Chayet received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and his J.D. from HLS in 1963. His legal career focused primarily on medical law, and included work on several high-profile cases, including serving on the psychiatric task force for the Boston Strangler murders investigation, and as a lawyer representing inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital in the late 1960s. Chayet went on to become a faculty member of both the Harvard Medical School and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts.

Neil began hosting “Looking at the Law” on April 1, 1976. Originally aired on Boston radio station WEEI, the daily program switched over to WBZ Radio 1030 (owned by CBS) sometime during the mid-to-late 70s, and was eventually broadcast nationally on various affiliated CBS Radio stations. Each episode of the program – all written and recorded by Neil Chayet – opened with the host stating: “this is Neil Chayet, looking at the law” (with the L’s drawn out for effect) followed by a rapid summary of an interesting (and usually fairly quirky) court case. The program gained popularity for Chayet’s ability to quickly distill the information in a friendly manner that was easy to understand for listeners, and each broadcast ended with a humorous pun summarizing the case. For example, the July 22, 2009 episode titled “The Surf’s not the City’s Turf” details a case in which a surfer sued the city of Cape May, New Jersey for injuries sustained while surfing during a hurricane, claiming that the city had failed to provide proper warning about the conditions for beach goers. The individual ultimately lost the case, and the episode ends with Neil Chayet stating: “So the net result is that the waters have closed over Bill’s case, and if the waves pull you under, the Courts won’t come to your rescue.”

 

Chayet Transcript

Typed transcript of the “Looking at the Law” episode that aired on July 22, 2009

The collection of material that HLS received includes the typed transcripts of nearly every episode of “Looking at the Law” (more than 10,000 in total), roughly 240 audiovisual objects (cassette tapes, CDs, DAT tapes, etc.) containing recordings of several thousand “Looking at the Law” episodes, and many gigabytes of born digital material (later episodes).

Chayet audiocassette

Compact audio cassette tape containing recorded episodes of “Looking at the Law” from January, 1978

Chayet DAT tape

DAT tape containing recorded episodes of “Looking at the Law” from May-June, 1997

The goal is to provide researchers with robust digital access to this collection, something HLS staff members are working diligently to accomplish. We are currently preparing the paper material for digitization, the end-result of which will be viewing and full-text search capabilities for each typed transcript/episode online. The majority of the typed transcripts also include a citation to the legal case featured in that episode (you can see a citation toward the bottom of the transcript shown above). By collaborating with the Caselaw Access Project at HLS, we hope to provide links and/or other contextual metadata about the actual cases as well. The next phase of the project will involve digitizing the audiovisual recordings and creating links between the digitized transcripts for each episode and the related audio recording. Ultimately, the collection will be accessible to users via HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, as well as other possible locations.

So, “stay tuned” for future a future update about the project, including when the collection will be open to the public.

Post contributed by Chris Spraker, Audiovisual Archivist

Scanning Nuremberg: Teamwork and more updates from June and July analysis

Post by Matt Seccombe, August 9, 2018

During June and July I worked on the prosecution case under count 2 of the indictment, crimes against peace (or, wars of aggression), amounting to 196 documents and 1584 pages of material. The case includes the British prosecutor’s opening address on aggression, a review of the treaties Germany had signed and then violated, the planning (conspiracy) and execution (aggression) of the conquests of Czechoslovakia and Austria, and a detailed record of Germany’s conflict with Poland, ending with the war against Poland, England, and France in September 1939. The rest of the count 2 files will cover the later fronts in the war.

Teamwork: The IMT prosecution was a four-nation effort, which caused some complications. The US had a head start and led the research and analysis, but needed to share the presentation of the case with Britain, France, and USSR. While the US presented the case on count 1 (conspiracy or common plan), the British managed count 2, with the other nations contributing particular portions of the evidence. The transition was complicated, and one long-winded American prosecutor took some of the drama out of the British prosecutor’s opening address by failing to complete his own presentation first; the Briton’s speech became an interlude between the opening and closing parts of the American’s argument. Staff memos indicate that some US prosecutors were upset when they had to turn over their work to another team to present their arguments and evidence in court; they were told to swallow their pride. One British prosecutor eased the situation by carefully recognizing his American colleague’s “collaboration.”

Munich Two?: The sixth folder of evidence regarding Poland covers the flurry of diplomatic activity in August 1939 by Britain, Poland, and Germany on the question of a negotiated settlement of the German-Polish conflict over Danzig and other “Germanic” portions of Poland. On paper, at least, Germany was willing to negotiate, with the incentive that a negotiated settlement would avoid a war with Britain (Britain and France had both pledged to side with Poland if it were attacked). If Hitler secured Danzig and pledged that the issue was settled, as he had in Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain could repeat “Peace in our time.” In the event, the diplomatic gestures simply allowed Germany to claim it had tried to negotiate, pointing to the voluminous paper trail, and present its invasion of Poland as a defensive measure.

Savoring victory: After orchestrating the German occupation of Austria in March 1938, including dictating the message that the Austrian Nazis were to send to Berlin seeking rescue and the cover story that everything was done by the Austrians’ initiative, Goering filled in Ribbentrop in a long phone exchange that was recorded and transcribed. At the end of the conversation he lapsed into a reverie, spell-bound by his own triumph: “Blue sky. I am sitting here on my balcony, all covered in blankets, in the fresh air, drinking my coffee. . . . and the birds are twittering, and here and there I can hear over the radio the enthusiasm [in Austria], which must [be] wonderful over there.”

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.

852 RARE: From Paper Plates to Sticky Notes, Documenting Student Activism

Historical & Special Collections (HSC) has been working hard since the spring of 2016 to collect material that helps tell the story of student life at Harvard Law School (HLS), most recently in the form of the HLS Community Capture Project. Given our focus on archiving student action, it was very exciting to find a nondescript, cardboard box tucked away in the Library’s art office, contained objects from a student protest in 1987.

On the front of the box scribbled in pencil were notes made by Bernice Loss, the School’s first art curator. Loss, a trained artist (and spouse of HLS faculty member Louis Loss) started to look after the School’s art collection in the early 1970s. In 1977, she was named the first HLS art director, later becoming the curator of the art collection and a member of the Library’s Special Collections Department (created in 1985). Loss’ inscription reads: 1987 / Paper Plate Faces / (To protest too many male faces in collection). Inside are more than 50 papers plates with images and slogans written in marker meant to highlight the larger number of white, male portraits and the lack of women and professors of color. According to Loss’ notes, these plates were placed in the hallways of Austin Hall, on books in the Austin Hall north classroom; on the frames of pictures in Langdell Hall; as well as a few other locations on campus.

Piece of paper and 4 plates

A sign and examples of the paper plates recently rediscovered.
Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

During her tenure, Loss worked to diversify the portrait collection, overseeing the acquisition of portraits of women and people of color including Judge Ruth Abrams (LL.B. 1956), Florence Allen, Clarence Clyde Ferguson, and George Lewis Ruffin (LL.B. 1869). However, then as now, the collection was predominantly made up of portraits of white men.

Like the notes students placed “beside portraits of black faculty, expressing appreciation for their pedagogy, scholarship, and character” in response to the vandalism of photographs of Black faculty members (and later archived by HSC), these paper plates are extremely ephemeral, making it all the more exciting that they have survived more than 30 years. They also raise interesting questions regarding their storage and preservation, as well as the ethics of collecting student protest material. Did students consider what would happen to the plates after they put them up? Were they involved in the transfer of material to the Library? How does one care for paper objects that are more 3-D than flat?

The plates and their accompanying material will now be formally accessioned and made available to anyone who would like to see them.

If you were a student involved in this protest, we would love to hear from you and learn more about this action and how the HLS community responded.

Scanning Nuremberg: IMT prosecution documents and the “common plan” of Nazi leaders

Post by Matt Seccombe, June 5, 2018

During May I analyzed the contents of seven IMT prosecution document books, covering 205 documents and 758 pages of material. The documents completed the evidence for count 1 of the indictment, the Nazi leaders’ “common plan” or conspiracy to seize power, consolidate control, militarize the society, and prepare for a war of aggression, with the latter subject overlapping with count 2 (crimes against peace). This material was presented in the first ten days of the trial, and the prosecution was not well organized in submitting evidence. Many of the documents were presented twice, raising the puzzle of which copy was entered as evidence and which was available and perhaps cited but not made an exhibit; the transcript was not always clear but usually enabled me to sort this out.

Control: After five years in power, Hitler made the point with characteristic bluntness in a speech in February 1938: “There is no institution in this state which is not National Socialist.”

The Jewish question, 1938: After Kristallnacht Hitler asked Goering to determine how “the Jewish question” would be “coordinated and solved one way or another,” after dozens of discriminatory laws and actions since 1933. At the meeting in November 1938, Goering announced policies that included punitive fines, the exclusion of Jews from the economy, social segregation, and emigration. (He also favored the concentration of Jews in ghettoes, but Heydrich opposed this.) At the end, Goering summed it up: “I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”

Polish workers: As the war forced a reliance on foreign laborers, in 1941 the government issued instructions to German farmers on how to handle their Polish workers. A prohibition on attending church was the relevant point in the trial, but there were a dozen other points, including prohibitions against Poles travelling or attending public events. The Poles were not to be housed in the farmhouse with the German family, but instead should be “quartered in stables.” “No remorse whatever should restrict such action,” the farmers were instructed, and any German farmer who failed to maintain “the necessary distance” from Poles would be punished.

An announcement and a reaction: On August 22, 1939, Hitler told his military commanders about the imminent attack on Poland and his broader strategy for the war (first Poland, then the Soviet Union). According to one record, after hearing the decision, “Goering jumped on the table. Bloodthirsty thanks and bloody promises. He danced around like a savage. The few doubtful ones remained silent.” (The prosecution presented that document but relied on another, more subdued report of the event as evidence; that report stated simply that Goering expressed his approval.)

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.

Visit Historical & Special Collections (and lots of other archives!) during Cambridge Open Archives this June

This year Historical & Special Collections is celebrating Cambridge Open Archives’ 10th Anniversary as part of two weeks of behind-the-scenes tours at 15 archives, libraries, and special collections around Cambridge! Get a closer look at special collections and archival material here at HLS, as well as 14 other archives at Harvard and across the city.

 

: Unite to Support Rent Control flyer with additional information about Cambridge Open Archives

Unite to Support Rent Control flyer, Records of the Cambridge Tenants’ Union, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections, Box 11, Folder 1.

When:   June 11-15 and June 18-21, 2018
Where: 
Various locations in Cambridge, including Historical & Special Collections
Cost:     
Free! Space is limited, however, so be sure to register below.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER [Read More]

The Royal Wedding and the Law: an Update!

Seven years ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate Middleton) tied the knot, we gave you an overview of the extra legal hurdles the royal couple were required to surmount beyond simply notifying the vicar or local register office.

There’s another royal wedding happening in just a few days, so we’re using this as an excuse to tell you about the new UK law that effected some changes after William and Kate’s big day, including a requirement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had to follow in order for their wedding on Saturday to be lawful. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 repealed the Royal Marriages Act 1772 doing away gender inequity, a religious requirement for royal spouses, and a cumbersome hurdle for very distant royal relations.

The first provision of the 2013 act was in the news just weeks ago: it instated absolute primogeniture rather than male-preference primogeniture in the United Kingdom. When William and Kate’s third child, Prince Louis, was born on April 23, his sister Princess Charlotte became the first British princess ever to retain her position in line to the throne and not be leapfrogged by a younger brother. She remains fourth in line to the throne after her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William, and elder brother Prince George.

In making this change, the UK joined Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg in modernizing their monarchies. Fun side note: Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands all have one or more female heirs in direct line to their thrones! As we shared in 2011, the UK monarch is also the head of state in 15 Commonwealth realms (including Canada, New Zealand, and Jamaica). In order not to have different heads of state in these countries, during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (aka CHOGM) held in Perth, Australia in October 2011, these nations agreed to update their laws to match, which they all did in 2015. Alas for any ambitions of Princess Anne–Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter–the UK and Commonwealth laws were not retroactive and she remains in her place after younger brothers Princes Andrew and Edward.

The second provision of the Succession of the Crown Act 2013 removed the provision of the Act of Settlement 1701 that those in the line of succession who married Roman Catholics be disqualified from the line of succession. This provision was retroactive, and restored the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, and his children and grandchildren, to the line of succession starting in position number 46. Read about the history of why Catholic spouses were forbidden for heirs to the throne in our earlier post.

As for Harry and Meghan, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 requires–as did the defunct Royal Marriages Act of 1772–that they seek permission from the Queen in order to marry. The big difference here is the number of other people the new act affects compared to the prior act. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 specified that:

No descendant of his late Majesty, [King George II] (other than the issue of princesses married, or who may marry into foreign families) shall be capable of contracting matrimony without the previous consent of his Majesty, his heirs, &c.

This might have been reasonable at the time, but over 200 years later there are so many descendants of George II that even dedicated royal watchers won’t recognize some names of recent couples on the list of consents for marriages under the Act who had to seek the Queen’s permission in order to have a valid marriage.

The 2013 Act stipulates that “a person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of Her Majesty before marrying.” Since Harry is currently 6th in line, his marriage is likely to be the last such instance of permission sought and granted for a good 20-30 years–presumably when his nephews or niece marry.

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Harry and Meghan’s consent to marry was officially approved by his grandmother the Queen on March 14. They will also receive a hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent on vellum, suitable for framing, just as his brother and sister-in-law did. Although this aspect of the consent isn’t law-related, it’s both fun and strange as an American to see some of our symbols included on such a document in honor of Markle’s American and Californian heritage. The left side of the document contains traditional emblems of the realms of the United Kingdom, and Harry’s coronet. On the right is a leek–an emblem of Wales (as son of the Prince of Wales aka Prince Charles, Harry’s formal title until his grandmother gives him the job title upgrade to Duke on the wedding morning is Prince Henry of Wales)–surrounded by a heraldic-style rose (national flower of the United States since 1986), California’s golden poppies, and olive branches adapted from the Great Seal of the United States. Heraldry geeks may also note the labels on both sides featuring shells or “escallops” from the Spencer coat of arms, the family of Harry’s mother, Diana. Read more about the art and symbolism and get some closeups at ye olde royal website.

In addition to all the other things that will change in her life, there’s one more thing the formerly politically active American bride will have to get used to: not voting.  Watchers of Netflix’s The Crown may have picked up on the requirement that the Queen be politically neutral, including not voting. This is a requirement that comes from tradition rather than law, and the rest of her family are presumed to follow suit. Read more about the Queen’s role in government.

Happy royal wedding watching to everyone who will be up at 4am this Saturday!

We’re hiring: Project Archivist, Justice Antonin Scalia Papers

Antonin Scalia, HLS Yearbook Photo, 1960The Harvard Law School Library seeks an experienced, collaborative, and service-oriented processing archivist for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2018. Reporting to the Curator of Modern Manuscripts within the Historical & Special Collections unit (HSC), the successful candidate will survey United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s collection of scholarly and professional work, develop a multi-year processing plan, and begin describing the collection in an Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid.

More details–including duties, responsibilities, and qualifications and how to apply–available at our job posting.

Learn more about the donation of the Justice’s papers to the Library in our earlier post, Justice Scalia’s papers donated to HLS Library–what’s next?

About Historical & Special Collections: HSC is a small and energetic team within Harvard Law School Library engaged with all aspects of special collections work. Harvard Law School Library’s collection of historic legal materials is one of the largest in the world, and includes rare books, early manuscripts, visual materials, and modern manuscripts. As members of the Harvard Law School Library, team members contribute to the Law School’s mission by collecting and sharing our materials with the HLS community and with researchers worldwide. As active members of the large and thriving Harvard Library community, HSC staff collaborate with colleagues to share information, solve problems, and learn.

Photo credit: Justice Antonin Scalia’s HLS Year Book portrait, 1960. Justice Scalia graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1960. He worked at a large law firm, taught law at the University of Virginia, the University of Chicago, and Stanford; and held several administrative posts in the federal government. He served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, before being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986. The collection includes material relating to all of these activities.

Scanning Nuremberg: “Your child belongs to us already.”

Post by Matt Seccombe, May 7, 2018

During April I analyzed the documents in seven IMT prosecution document books, covering 245 documents and 770 pages of material. The subjects covered diverse elements of the “Common plan or conspiracy” charge (count 1), including totalitarian control, education and youth, propaganda, purges and terrorization, labor, and suppression of Christian churches. The material reflects the prosecution’s central argument, that the war crimes and crimes against humanity (counts 3 and 4) were derivative of the primary crime—the war of aggression (count 2)—and that the entire Nazi regime was a common plan to take control of Germany and mobilize it for that war.

Tactics: While the main story of the rise to power is familiar, partly due to the trial’s function in presenting the record to the world, some of the details are surprising. Beyond thuggery in the streets, some of the early measures were more subtle. One affidavit described a tactic used by Goebbels in Berlin: “Once, in order to disrupt the premiere of the film ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ he had white mice smuggled into the theater and then set them free; this caused an indescribable panic among the female moviegoers.”

Militarization: The evidence confirms the theme that the regime was dedicated to war from the outset and that it worked systematically to militarize every element of German society. The take-over of the trade unions in May 1933 was not simply a matter of controlling the organizations. It extended to the reorientation of work, as reflected in the rhetoric: Nazi activists in workplaces were the “Factory Troops,” and workers became “Soldiers of Labor.”

The message was pervasive in the Hitler Youth organizations: “He who wants to live should also fight!” “Fight is the highest aim of youth.” “For Hitler we live, For Hitler we die.” (By the way, Hitler Youth organizations operated in many countries outside Germany, including the United States.)

The indoctrination extended to young children, including one very young boy who was visited by a monitor at home. She told him, “You must grow up and be a big boy so you can fight for the Fuehrer.” He replied, “I don’t like to fight.” The lesson was repeated.

Hitler himself made the point most emphatically. In a speech in November 1933 he addressed those who had opposed him and would never support him. That no longer mattered, he told them: “Your child belongs to us already”

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.

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