Scanning Nuremberg: Notes from August 2019

Post by Matt Seccombe

During August I completed the IMT prosecution documents on Hans Frank, the occupation governor of Poland, and began the documents on Julius Streicher, the Nazi propagandist. This amounted to 174 documents and 551 pages of material. For the IMT as a whole, we passed the 2500-document mark early in the month and now have more than 2600 documents analyzed. The case against Frank was covered in the last report, and the final file did not include anything new that is remarkable.

Streicher’s case: The prosecution of Streicher covered a number of topics, including his position as a regional party leader and his role in the Aryanization program (including some apparent profiteering), but concentrated on his propaganda work, notably his Der Stuermer, that produced endless stories of Jewish crimes and calls for their extermination—which the prosecution charged as incitement to mass murder. Since most of the prosecution evidence was presented during its cross-examination of him during his defense presentation, his defense case became painfully clear in the process. Alone among the defendants dealt with so far, and contrary to his own attorney’s advice, Streicher argued that no crimes had occurred and that his writings had all been accurate reporting and commentary. We can imagine everyone in the courtroom cringing and leaning away.

When Streicher was presented with his numerous statements calling for the extermination of the Jews and evidence that the extermination had indeed been carried out, he first argued that he had never killed anyone, just written and published words as a journalist. When reminded that he was specifically charged with incitement, he made an odd reversal: His calls for extermination had just been mere words; he hadn’t actually meant what he wrote. For someone who identified himself as a writer, that was a very peculiar claim.

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 [email protected].

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