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

Scanning Nuremberg: IMT prosecution documents on persecution of the Jews, Germanization, and NSDAP Leadership Corps

Post by Matt Seccombe, November 3, 2018

During October I covered the IMT prosecution documents on the persecution of the Jews (a phrase that the prosecutors noted was far short of the reality), Germanization, and the first material on the Leadership Corps of the NSDAP [National Socialist German Workers Party], amounting to 157 documents and 663 pages of material. The prosecution detoured from counts 3 and 4 (war crimes and crimes against humanity) to the criminal organizations without any explanation, and will detour back to the plundering of artworks before moving on to the next organization (the Cabinet). For the IMT generally, we now have just over 1200 documents analyzed.

Documentary surpluses and deficits: When the Nuremberg trials staff sorted out the sets of documents for distribution, the folders on the Leadership Corps sent to HLS included a bonus: an extra copy of the trial indictment and an extra copy of the brief on the Corps. What HLS did not receive was a copy of the first document book on the Corps (the other document books are present). All things considered, I would have traded in the duplicates for that document book.

The extermination of the Jews: While official secrecy was maintained, within the regime the extermination of the Jews became explicit policy quickly, both as a military measure and as an end in itself. In Poland Hans Frank was concise: “We must annihilate the Jews.” By June 1943, one report noted that the “special treatment” of the Jews “requires no further discussion,” but some of the tactics were shocking to some people in the regime, such as the removal of dental gold from Jewish prisoners. Also, locking suspected partisan families inside barns and burning them alive “is not worthy of the German cause and hurts our reputation severely.” One paradoxical point in the report was that the atrocities were so extreme that if news of them got out, people “simply would not be ready to believe it.” Finally, in August 1944, Adolf Eichmann matter-of-factly summed up what the SS had done in a talk with a colleague, who recorded it in an affidavit: Four million Jews in the death camps, two million by the einsatzgruppen and similar actions; six million dead.

Germanization: This program had two sides, one to render the occupied territories useful to Germany and the second to gather in all Europeans of “Germanic blood” to the homeland. Frank stated the first task regarding Poland: “Poland shall be treated as a colony, the Poles shall be the slaves of the Greater German World Empire.” Himmler summed up the latter task in 1940: “to create an order of good blood.”

Hitler’s feast: The prize possession of the empire, of course, was to be the Soviet territory. In July 1941 Hitler assumed the military conquest would be swift, and he outlined for his generals a plan to dominate, administer, and exploit the resources, natural and human. What remained, he said, was “the task of cutting up the giant cake according to our needs.”

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.

Library Research Guides for LLMs (and Everyone Else!)

A graduation requirement for each Harvard Law School LLM student is to research and write a paper on a legal topic, of at least 25 pages (short paper) or at least 50 pages (long paper) in length, under the supervision of an HLS faculty member.

Our LLM students are currently deep in the process of finding faculty supervisors and preparing their LLM paper proposals, which are due October 22.

The HLS Graduate Program has created LLM paper writing groups, organized by topic and led by experienced and knowledgeable SJD students, to provide the LLMs with a supportive and encouraging workshop-like environment for the process of completing this rigorous academic requirement.

Each LLM paper writing group has an assigned research librarian.  I have been assigned to help out three groups this year:

(1) Constitutional & Administrative Law (generally known as “public law” and also includes people writing about legal theory and philosophy)

(2) Private Law (includes contractual obligations, legal remedies, law and technology, and health law/bioethics)

(3) Trade and Private International Law (includes international investment law, international trade law, antitrust, and arbitration)

This year, I decided to create extensive research guides for each of my groups.  These guides include pre-populated searches of Harvard’s HOLLIS library catalog, using specialized subject terms.  They also include information about using the HLS Library’s subscription databases for law journal research.

The good news is that these research guides are freely available online and can be used by anyone!  Feel free to check them out and let me know what you think:

I also completely overhauled our International Arbitration Research Guide this fall.  Several members of the Trade and Private International Law Group have found to be especially helpful.  It includes information about the many arbitration-related databases to which the HLS Library subscribes.

TIP:
Did you know that the HLS Library has published more than 150 research guides?  You can access them online at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/law.

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.

Welcome LL.M. Students!

Welcome to the nearly 200 LL.M. students who will be attending Harvard Law School this academic year!

Please visit the law library’s research services homepage to learn about all of the services the library’s research services team offers to the Harvard Law School community.

We are providing special library tours for LL.M. students over the next two weeks, and you can sign up for a tour on this page as well (under Upcoming Events).

Highlighting New Comparative Law Books in the Law Library’s Collection

Research librarians here in the law library spend a lot of time talking to LL.M. students about their paper topics every year.  Because so many students decide to write their LL.M. papers on comparative law topics, I like to write posts for our library blog about comparative law titles that I find in our collection that might be of interest to them.

In this post, I am highlighting one of our newest books on comparative company law.

International Handbook on Shareholders’ Agreements: Regulation, Practice, and Comparative Analysis
Editors: Sebastian Mock, Kristian Csach, and Bohnmil Havel
Published by DeGruyter, 2018
ISBN 9783110501568
View this book’s record in Harvard’s HOLLIS library catalog

According to the editors of this volume, shareholder agreements are “an integral part of company law and especially its legal practice.”  They are “traditionally dominated by contract law and not by company law”; however, it is sometimes the case that contract law lacks the depth to provide sufficient legal regulation of what can be complex legal situations and relationships, especially “in the case of cross-border shareholders’ agreements including shareholders from several jurisdictions.”

This volume attempts to fill that gap.  It begins with introductory chapters covering the differences between contract law and corporate law when it comes to shareholders’ agreements, the impact of shareholders’ agreements on how a company is managed, and as issues related to conflict of laws (private international law), corporate insolvency, and competition law.

The bulk of the book, however, is dedicated to reports on the relevant legal framework for shareholders’ agreements in the following jurisdictions: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, England/Wales, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.  Some of these country reports include English-language excerpts of applicable statutory provisions.

Harvard Library Collection

This book is part of the DeGruyter Handbook series.  Almost all of the other titles in this series that are in the Harvard Library collection are in German (DeGruyter is a German publishing company), and cover legal topics.

However, Harvard does have one other English-language title from this series.  It is held by the Widener Library, Harvard’s flagship library.  All LL.M. students have access and borrowing privileges at Widener, along with the other libraries at Harvard.

This other book actually has nothing to do with law at all:

Sign Languages of the World: A Comparative Handbook
Edited by Julie Bakken Jepsen, Goedele De Clerck, Sam Lutalo-Kiingi, William B. McGregor
Published by De Gruyter, 2015
ISBN 9781614517962
View this book’s record in Harvard’s HOLLIS library catalog

I am a member of the law library’s Accessibility Design team, so one of my interests is learning more about how we can make the library accessible and accommodating to people with all kinds of disabilities.  So I am actually really interested in having a look at this book sometime!

Using HeinOnline for Accessing Legal Journals

I am curious to learn more about how the various sign languages around the world have developed their legal terminology throughout history.  In fact, just thinking about that led me to wonder about how issues related to deafness have been explored in the legal literature.

One of the best options for this kind of research is our  HeinOnline subscription legal database.  HeinOnline contains a very comprehensive collections of U.S. and foreign legal journals.  I find this database to be an invaluable part of any legal research project that I am working on.

So I decided to try a proximity search in HeinOnline for articles about sign language and legal terms.  Here is the search query I used:

“sign language legal terms”~50

This search query uses HeinOnline’s unique syntax for finding those four words within 50 words of each other.

When I did that search and limited the search results to articles from HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library, I got 77 results, covering various topics such as professional challenges faced by deaf lawyers, the representation of deaf clients in legal matters, the fitness of deaf defendants for trial, accommodating law faculty with disabilities, and more.

Perhaps one day an LL.M. student will write on deafness and law as well.  Whatever our newest LL.M.s decide to write about this year, the law library’s research services team is eager to help them navigate our resources and research their papers.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in the law library!

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.

Spotlight on Recently-Published Titles on African Constitutionalism

Several recently-published books on African constitutionalism in our collection caught my eye this week. I admit that I don’t really know much about this topic, but it strikes me as massive, likely made up of many varying and diverse philosophies and viewpoints. So I was interested in exploring its recent scholarly treatment.

In this post, I will focus on the two books that are part of a new Oxford University Press series, the Stellenbosch Handbooks in African Constitutional Law.  This series, edited by Professor Charles Manga Fombad of the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, is “designed to avoid a mere repetition of the now well-rehearsed concerns and doubts about constitutionalism on the continent and instead to identify, analyse, and promote serious discussion on the critical issues that can shape, refine, and deepen the strides being taken towards consolidating constitutionalism in Africa.”

The first book in the series, Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism (ISBN: 9780198759799), was published in 2016.

Part I of the book contains two extremely helpful and informative introductory chapters, both written by Professor Fombad.  The first chapter offers a historical overview to African constitutionalism that catalogs and explains its many influences, including colonialism (accompanied by the implementation of common law and civil law legal systems), political ideologies (democracy, socialism), religion, and indigenous institutions.  It also includes illustrative examples from the constitutions of several jurisdictions, including Cape Verde, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Burundi, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Cameroon, and many others.  It concludes with a discussion of the influence of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union, and the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.  Chapter two provides a general overview of how the concept of the separation of powers manifests itself in African constitutions, as influenced by the American presidential system, the British parliamentary system, and the French “hybrid” system.

Part II of the book includes chapters that focus more narrowly, either on a specific issue related to the separation of powers (such as power sharing between the branches, the role of the judicial branch, and government accountability), or on a specific jurisdiction (Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Namibia) or group of related jurisdictions (Lusophone, Francophone, and Anglophone Africa).  Part II focuses bit more heavily on sub-Saharan Africa than Part I, but it still provides an extensive analysis of the jurisdictions that are covered.

The second book in this series, Constitutional Adjudication in Africa (ISBN: 9780198810216), was published in 2017.

As with the first book in the series, Professor Fombad provides a very helpful introductory chapter that provides an overview of constitutional review in Africa.  He begins by distinguishing between the “decentralized” and “centralized” models of constitutional review.  According to Professor Fombad, under the decentralized view, as explained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison, “constitutional matters are dealt with by ordinary courts during normal proceedings.”  (p. 20) By contrast, the centralized model, as developed in Europe by Hans Kelsen, features constitutional adjudication that is “carried out by a centralized, often specialized, tribunal established independently outside the judicial branch during special proceedings.” (p. 21)  The chapter then discusses how these models have been employed and adapted in African jurisdictions, providing, as a means of illustration, a comparative study of judicial review in Benin and South Africa.  The chapter concludes with information about access to and remedies provided by courts in African jurisdictions that have jurisdiction over constitutional matters.

This introductory chapter is followed by several chapters that focus on constitutional jurisprudence in specific African jurisdictions, including Benin, Cameroon, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia.  There are also chapters discussing the impact of transjudicialism on constitutional adjudication, including the effects of international law norms and the work of regional and sub-regional courts in Africa.

Another chapter expands on the influence of Ubuntu (“the belief that the well-being of the individual and that of the community are inextricably linked – that one cannot exist without the other … (and that) the well being of the community is inextricably linked to a harmonious relationship with both its ancestors and with nature” (p. 294)) on constitutional adjudication in Africa.

Finally, Professor Fombad’s conclusion explores the further development of constitutional justice in Africa in the future.

As with the first book in the series, the focus here seems to rest on sub-Saharan African countries.  However, these two books provide an excellent broad introduction to this topic.  The content of these books is extensively annotated, providing citations to many other books and articles that researchers can use to perform a deeper dive into this subject.  Both books also include tables of cases and legislation.

I am glad that Oxford University Press is publishing this series, and I am looking forward to exploring its future volumes as they are released.

Note:
To explore other books in our collection related to African Constitutionalism, click here to search the HOLLIS library catalog by this subject.

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.

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.

Voting With Your Feet? Better Check Protocol First…

Today we’re sharing an addendum to our Scanning Nuremberg series written by document analyst Judith Haran.

Post by Judith Haran, May 3, 2018

I’ve been analyzing documents for the HLS Nuremberg Project for a year now, and I’ve seen a lot of odd and often disturbing tales: stories of slave labor on a scale difficult to imagine, starvation, beatings, even kidnapping of children from lands to the east of the Third Reich. My task for the past three months has been to read through and index transcripts of the “Industrialist Trials”—the trials of the directors of Krupp (armament makers), I.G. Farben (a huge chemical conglomerate, whose product line included Zyklon B) and the Flick concern (a coal/steel industrial empire). The transcripts are long, up to 13,000 pages in the case of the Krupp trial, and can get repetitive at times. But the stories they tell are endlessly fascinating.

April was devoted to the Krupp trial. Over two hundred witnesses testified between November 1947 and the following June. In addition to ‘hearing’ what the witnesses had to say (which included accounts of people being locked inside steel cabinets, beaten with shovels, and dying in air raids after being excluded from shelters), I find that some of the juiciest tidbits come from ‘eavesdropping’ on conversations between the judges and the attorneys . . .endless arguments over admissibility of evidence, techniques of cross-examination (apparently not part of the European tradition), and other points of legal strategy. But the atmosphere, as far as this reader can tell, remained cordial and professional . . . most of the time.

Members of the defense counsel watch and listen as evidence is presented against their clients in the Justice Case. Left to right: Dr. Alfred Schilf of Ansbach defending Herbert Klemm; Dr. Erich Wandschneider of Hamburg-Othmarschen defending Curt Rothenberger and Dr. Heinrich Grub of Nurnberg defending Ernst Lautz.

Members of the defense counsel watch and listen as evidence is presented against their clients in the Justice Case, one of the current war crimes trials at Nurnberg directed against the former Nazi judges and public prosecutors. Left to right: Dr. Alfred Schilf of Ansbach defending Herbert Klemm; Dr. Erich Wandschneider of Hamburg-Othmarschen defending Curt Rothenberger and Dr. Heinrich Grub of Nurnberg defending Ernst Lautz. olvwork376096

Three American jurists ran the Krupp trial: Judge Anderson of Tennessee, Judge Daly of Connecticut, and Judge Wilkins of Seattle, Washington. Anderson, the official presiding judge, ran a tight ship. However, a major upheaval in his otherwise peaceful courtroom occurred on trial day 21, a cold, damp day in January, 1948. Perhaps it was the ongoing lack of decent food in the city, or the sub-par accommodations. Perhaps the heat, which wasn’t that great to begin with, wasn’t working that day. In any event, the tensions that had been simmering beneath the surface since the start of the trials in 1945 finally came to a boil. Alfred Schilf, counsel for defendant Friedrich Janssen, lost his composure.

 

After listening to the prosecution present written evidence for all of a Friday morning, Herr Schilf tried to raise a point about an issue from the day before. Judge Daly, who was presiding that day, interrupted him. Things quickly began to get heated. Schilf got angry and attempted yet again to speak. Daly shot him down harshly: “There will be no further discussion on that.”

Schilf, however, wouldn’t give up.

“Your honor, I protest that I am not permitted to go on. . .”
“Did you hear me say, counselor, that there will be no further discussion on this question?”
“Yes, and I protest against this ruling and request that a decision of another court. . .”
“You will please take your seat or I will order you removed from the courtroom.”
“Ich bitte darum,” (I ask you to) replied Schilf, with an acid tone of voice (as it later emerged in testimony).
“All right, you can remove yourself, then,” the judge replied.1

Schilf left the courtroom in a huff, and the prosecution continued presenting written evidence for the next few hours. After 47 additional pieces of evidence had been presented, Judge Daly finally noticed that none of the twenty-odd members of the defense team were present in the courtroom, remarking “They perhaps folded their tents.” He sent the marshal out to round them up. It took thirty minutes to find them.

What happened next came as a shock to the defense team. Daly found that twelve of them had left deliberately and announced that these twelve were to be held in contempt of court. Asked why they had left, a spokesman for the group told the judges, “An injustice had been done to our honor.” Daly ordered the marshal to arrest the leaders of the group and to keep them in prison for the weekend.

One of the accused tried to speak, through the interpreter. Daly was having none of it.

“No, you are not going to say anything. You are in contempt of this Tribunal, and you’re not going to say anything until you’ve purged yourself.” It was late Friday afternoon; Daly adjourned the court until Monday. Over the weekend, newspapers around the world ran the story about the arrest of the German lawyers.

The offenders all trooped back into court on Monday morning. The presiding judge read them the riot act, accusing them of openly challenging not only the Tribunal’s authority, but also the authority of all of the nations currently occupying Germany. After he said his piece, the “trial within a trial” began.

Otto Kranzbuehler, the brilliant (and bilingual) leading defense attorney, who’d been absent on the fateful day, was appointed to represent the accused. His first motion, to have the case heard by a different tribunal, was quickly overruled. He called Schilf to testify. Together they examined Friday’s events in minute, excruciating detail. Schilf had taken umbrage over Daly repeatedly interrupting him, and insisted that in his 25 years of legal practice, neither he nor anyone else he knew had ever been removed from a courtroom.

6 Krupp Lawyers Jailed by Court: New York Times article about the incident, January 17, 1946.

6 Krupp Lawyers Jailed by Court: New York Times article about the incident, January 17, 1946.

Translation difficulties, as it turned out, accounted for some of the misunderstanding. Differences between German and American court protocol and expectations accounted for much of the rest. Grievances were aired; explanations were made on both sides. Apologies were asked for and given, first by Schilf, and then, as Monday dragged on into Tuesday, by most of the others involved. Only one, Guenther Geisseler, held out, refusing to apologize or even admit to any wrongdoing.

At the end of the two days of testimony, Kranzbuehler summarized the events, as well as German legal custom, for the Tribunal.  The American judges must have been surprised to hear that it was perfectly legal in Germany for counsel to walk out of the courtroom in protest, and that lawyers of that country were never found “in contempt” for any reason. Unfortunately for the lawyers in question, that country, the Germany they had grown up in, lay in ruins around them. Another sixteen months would have to pass before its successor state, the Federal Republic of Germany, was officially founded in May 1949.

It was Wednesday before the bench announced that it would accept the apologies of the five lawyers (graciously, one hopes), but would disqualify Geisseler, the intransigent one, from continuing in the case. The larger trial got underway again, and the transcript continues on (and on, and on) for another eleven thousand pages. I’m happy to report that after January 16th, with the exception of a few snide remarks (on both sides), everyone behaved themselves just fine.

Judith Haran is a graduate student in Library and Information Sciences who works part time as a document analyst for the Nuremberg Project at HLS. She also writes fiction about WW2, and maintains a blog at judithharan.com. She posts on Twitter as @judithharan.

1 William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp, New York, Little Brown, 1968, 651-652.

In addition to Manchester’s book, the following are useful sources on the trials:

  • Taylor, T. (1992). The anatomy of the Nuremberg trials: A personal memoir­­­­­­­­­­­­. New York, NY: Knopf.
    An insider account written years later by the Chief Counsel of the US prosecution team.
  • von Knieriem, A. (1959). The Nuremberg Trials. Chicago: Henry Regnery Co.
    A legal analysis of the trials, from point of view of a German lawyer. Translated from the German. The author, who was general counsel to IG Farben, was himself tried and acquitted after the war.

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: