Monthly Archives: June 2018

Jackson List: Father Moritz Fuchs (1925-2018), Nuremberg’s Bodyguard, Nuremberg’s Spiritual Guard

My friend Father Moritz Fuchs, Jr., truly one of the best people I have ever met, died yesterday in Syracuse, New York.  He succumbed to cancer, to a systemic infection, to being just short of age 93, and maybe also, a little bit, to Nazi shrapnel.

This moment is deeply sad for all who knew or knew of Father Fuchs.  On the other hand, today he is exactly where he, a man of immense religious faith, worked his whole life to be, and that thought should comfort each of us.

Moritz Fuchs was a farm boy from upstate New York.  He learned German from his parents, immigrants from Switzerland.  After graduating from high school, he began college, studying engineering, but he soon left for military service.

By November 1944, Private Moritz Fuchs, age 19, was serving as a replacement in the 1st Army Division (the Big Red 1) in Germany’s Hürtgen Forest.  On November 19, he was wounded by shrapnel from German artillery fire.  He was evacuated to England and recovered there.

Private Fuchs, while recovering, quite luckily missed additional weeks of Hürtgen Forest fighting and then the Battle of the Bulge.  He then rejoined his unit, fighting on in Germany and into Czechoslovakia.

After Nazi Germany’s surrender in May 1945, Private Fuchs was assigned to Nuremberg.  He was ordered to supervise former SS men, now U.S. prisoners, working to clean up the bomb-damaged city.

That summer, Private Fuchs’s commanding officer gave Fuchs a new and wholly unexpected assignment.  He was to guard U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who would be moving imminently to Nuremberg to serve as U.S. chief prosecutor, before the International Military Tribunal, of Nazi war criminals.

Private Fuchs served as Justice Jackson’s bodyguard for the entirety of the international Nuremberg trial.  During that year, Fuchs lived with Jackson, his son and executive assistant William E. Jackson, and the Justice’s secretary Mrs. Elsie Douglas in a requisitioned private home outside of Nuremberg.  Fuchs was armed at all times.  He slept in the front vestibule of the house.  He rode with Justice Jackson to and from the Palace of Justice (the courthouse), the Grand Hotel, and other locations in the area.  When Jackson worked in his courthouse office, Fuchs sat nearby.  When Jackson was in court, so was Fuchs, listening to the proceedings, watching everyone in the room, and carrying the only authorized gun in Courtroom 600.

By assignment, Staff Sergeant (following his promotion) Fuchs was proximate to Justice Jackson.  Through their shared work and compatible personalities and interests, they became friends.  They particularly enjoyed weekend walks and hunting trips in the woods outside Nuremberg—which was where Jackson observed, with relief, that his bodyguard was a good shot.

After Justice Jackson made his closing statement to the International Military Tribunal in late July 1946, he returned home to Washington while the proceedings concluded and the IMT deliberated and wrote its judgment.  Jackson brought Fuchs home on his plane, and then brought him to his house, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Virginia, for a weekend stop on his way to Fort Dix, New Jersey, and discharge from the Army.

And then Fuchs embarked on his vocation.  He pursued the religious calling that had become clear to him during the Nuremberg trial.  He became a Roman Catholic seminarian in Washington, D.C., studying for years in preparation for the priesthood.  He stayed in contact with Justice Jackson, visiting him regularly at the Supreme Court.  As Fuchs’s ordination date approached, Jackson made plans to attend.  Sadly, he died shortly before he would have seen his “dear Moritz” become a priest.  But Mrs. Douglas was present at Father Fuch’s ordination, a moment that spoke to one of Nuremberg’s most personal and hopeful results.

Father Fuchs became a Catholic parish priest in New York State.  Across six decades, he ministered to and was loved by many.

Sergeant Fuchs (retired) was a proud and tough U.S. Army veteran.  Last month, although his health was weak, he proudly participated in the Memorial Day ceremonies in his hometown, Fulton, New York.

Father Moritz Fuchs was an up-close witness to and friend of Robert Jackson and a powerful teacher of Nuremberg in all of its dimensions.  That’s how I came to meet Father Fuchs.  It’s what we discussed over many hours, including when we were together almost every year in Jamestown, New York, at the Robert H. Jackson Center.

We also were together on special trips back to Nuremberg.  The final one—he knew, and said, and was completely at peace with the fact, that it was his final one—occurred in November 2015, the 70th anniversary of the trial’s commencement.  I had the honor to moderate, in Courtroom 600, a conversation of recollections by Father Fuchs and two former colleagues who also had worked there as young men.  As he surveyed the room carefully at the start of that evening, I could see that his eyes saw back clearly to 1945.  He shared those memories with a rapt audience.

Private, then Sergeant Fuchs guarded Justice Robert Jackson—well done.

Father Fuchs also, across decades, as priest and friend, guarded humanity and morality.  I think of that as him guarding, among other things, Nuremberg’s core meaning—even better done.

Rest in peace, Father Fuchs, and thank you.

Some links—

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Barnette at 75

Thursday, June 14, 2018, will mark the 75th anniversary of the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, embodied in Justice Robert H. Jackson’s opinion for the Court, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette.

The Barnette decision, rendered amid the commendable patriotism that characterized the United States home front during that dark middle period of World War II, invalidated a West Virginia board of education resolution requiring all public school teachers and students to participate in a salute to the American flag and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The case was brought on behalf of students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses.  In deference to their belief that the Bible forbade them to bow down to graven images, they refused to salute the flag.  For that refusal, they were expelled from school.  Expulsion had the effect of making the children unlawfully absent, which subjected them to delinquency proceedings and their parents to criminal prosecution.

In Barnette, the Supreme Court held, by a vote of 6-3, that the flag salute and pledge requirements violated the children’s First Amendment rights, which exist to strengthen “individual freedom of mind in preference to officially disciplined uniformity…”

A leading hero of the Barnette case, in addition to the children, their parents and their lawyer, was the Chief Justice of the United States, Harlan Fiske Stone.  In June 1940, when Stone was an Associate Justice and U.S. involvement in the war in Europe was impending, he had dissented powerfully but alone from the Court’s decision to uphold Pennsylvania’s flag salute requirement.  (At that time, Robert Jackson, who was U.S. Attorney General and a Supreme Court nominee, reported to President Roosevelt and the Cabinet on the anti-alien, anti-“fifth column” hysteria that was sweeping the country.  Jackson criticized the Supreme Court for joining in that hysteria by ruling against Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Pennsylvania case.)

By June 1943, Stone had been appointed Chief Justice; new Associate Justices, including Jackson, had joined the Court; and a majority of the Justices was prepared to revisit and rectify what they saw as the Court’s earlier mistake.

Chief Justice Stone assigned Justice Jackson, the junior justice, to write the Court’s opinion in Barnette.  Although all of it bears reading (and regular rereading), some words to consider particularly closely are Jackson’s summary paragraphs:

The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure but because the flag involved is our own.  Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization.  To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.  We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the State as those we deal with here, the price is not too great.  But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much.  That would be a mere shadow of freedom.  The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.  If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

We think the action of the local authorities in compelling the flag salute and pledge transcends constitutional limitations on their power and invades the sphere of intellect and spirit which it is the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution to reserve from all official control.

In the views of many, Barnette is a high point in U.S. Supreme Court history and one of Justice Robert Jackson’s very finest judicial opinions.

It was, in the United States in 1943, just a coincidence that the Supreme Court decided Barnette on “Flag Day.”  In history, that coincidence is an added dimension of the decision’s teaching power.

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Some links—

  • West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)—click here;
  • a 2006 roundtable discussion featuring sisters Gathie and Marie Barnett (whose surname got misspelled at some point in the litigation) and related commentary—click here;
  • a 2012 Jackson List post, “Arguing Barnette”—click here; and
  • a 2010 Jackson List post, “The Newest Barnette Sister”—click here.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.

 

TLP in PHL

The Longstreth Principle (TLP) holds that every time you watch a baseball game, you will see something you’ve never seen before.  This event/occurrence, sometimes just improbable and odd, sometimes also amazing, is thus called a “TLP.”

At yesterday’s game in Philadelphia (final score: Milwaukee Brewers 12, Phillies 3), I saw Brewers catcher Erik Kratz [Who, right?] double in the second inning.  The Brewers then were leading 2-0 (runs scored in the first).  But the second inning ended with Kratz stranded on second and no runs scored—his double meant nothing.

In the bottom of the third, the Phillies scored 3 times to take the lead, 3-2.  That still was the score when Kratz next came up, in the 4th, with one out and no one on.  Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta promptly hit him in the shoulder.  Next batter:  double play, end of inning.  So Kratz’s at-bat again meant nothing.

He next came up in the 6th.  The score was still 3-2, Phillies.  But the Brewers were threatening (see more on that below)—2 men on, only one out.

Arrieta again hit Kratz with a pitch.  So there’s a TLP, at a couple of levels:  one pitcher hits one batter with pitches twice in one game.  (And it was Jake Arrieta, a big name/star/former Cy Young award-winner, hitting Erik Kratz, who is, um, not yet a household name.)

But that was not the best TLP that I saw yesterday.  It came in the top of the 6th inning, just mentioned.  The Brewers were trailing 3-2.  Travis Shaw (3B), leading off, bounced to pitcher Arrieta, who made a horrible throw to first that pulled the 1B way off the bag, but he still had time to make the catch and get back and touch first before Shaw arrived because he did not run it out hard—bad mistake, one out.

And then the TLP began:  Ryan Braun (LF) was awarded first base on catcher interference.  Then Jonathan Villar (2B) walked.  Then the much-noted (well, noted above) Erik Kratz was hit by a pitch—bases loaded.  That was it for Arrieta—the Phillies pulled him after 5.1 innings, leading 3-2, leaving the bases loaded.  They brought in a pitcher named Luis Garcia.  He promptly got Brewers SS Orlando Arcilla to strike out, badly.  So bases loaded, two outs.  And the Brewers pitcher was coming to bat.  So they replaced him with a pinch hitter, Ji-Man Choi.  He fell behind in the count, and then got back to 3-2.  And then he, a lefty, lined a homer down the left field line, just inside the foul pole.

So that was, for me, yesterday’s TLP:  three batters got on base, none by getting a hit, each in a different way, followed by a grand slam home run.

Oh, and Erik Kratz?  He’s age 37.  He played many years in the minors before making it to the majors in 2010.  Since then, he’s had a fine, journey-man, but not starring career.  And, okay, he’s not had so many at-bats this year.  But he was hitting .500 when the game started yesterday.  And after his opening double and then two HBPs, he flied out, and then, on a poorly-fielded hit to the pitcher, got to second base when the pitcher threw the ball away.  So Kratz went 1-for-3.  The game dropped his average a little bit.  But unless you get all picky about him having only 19 at-bats, his .474 makes him one of the very leading hitters in the National League.

#thebestgame

At Hickory Hill (June 1968)

For the Jackson List:

In late 1952, Justice Robert H. Jackson hired E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr., to be his law clerk.  Prettyman then was a third year law student at the University of Virginia.  He also was the son of Barrett Sr., who Jackson first met when he came to Washington in 1934.

The senior Prettymans (Barrett Sr. and his wife Lucy) and the Jacksons (Bob and his wife Irene) became friends, sometimes socializing together.  The men also were in the same line of work—they were lawyers, sometimes government lawyers, and ultimately federal judges, Jackson on the Supreme Court of the United States and Prettyman Sr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

“Young Barrett” began his clerkship with Jackson in July 1953.  Prettyman did excellent work and Jackson enjoyed his company.  In early 1954, he asked Prettyman to stay on for a second year and he accepted.

During Prettyman’s clerkship, he had the experience of visiting Jackson at his home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Virginia.  Prettyman would deliver law books, legal briefs, and other materials to Jackson at home on weekends.  When Prettyman arrived, he typically would find Jackson working on the screen porch off the kitchen.  They would talk a bit, Prettyman would hand over his deliveries, and then he would leave Jackson to his work.

Justice Jackson’s health failed during Prettyman’s clerkship.  After a major heart attack in spring 1954, Jackson recovered enough to resume work that summer.  In the fall, only a week into the Court’s new term, Jackson suffered a fatal heart attack.  Barrett Prettyman thus was Jackson’s law clerk for a little over a year.  In what would have been the remainder of Prettyman’s second clerkship year with Jackson, Justice Felix Frankfurter and then, following his appointment as Jackson’s successor, Justice John M. Harlan, each employed Prettyman as a law clerk.  He thus had the distinction of clerking for three Supreme Court justices during a two-year period.

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During his Jackson clerkship, Barrett Prettyman passed the District of Columbia bar examination and was admitted to law practice.

After some years in private practice, Prettyman became a special assistant to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.  As Attorney General, Kennedy was serving in the Cabinet office that had been Robert Jackson’s during 1940-41.

Some years earlier, Robert Kennedy, his wife Ethel, and their growing family also had become occupants of Bob and Irene Jackson’s former home, Hickory Hill.  It was Robert Kennedy’s home, and famously so, for the rest of his life.

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On June 4, 1968, after winning California’s Democratic presidential primary, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  Gravely wounded, he was taken to a hospital where doctors worked to save his life.  It soon was clear that the prognosis was bleak.

Barrett Prettyman was in the Midwest when he learned that Senator Kennedy had been shot.  Prettyman contacted a colleague in Los Angeles and asked how he could help.  He was told to join former astronaut John Glenn, a close Kennedy friend, and others at Hickory Hill, where they were caring for the younger Kennedy children and preparing for horrible news.

Prettyman arrived at Hickory Hill on the evening of Wednesday, June 5, 1968.  He talked to Glenn and others.  Glenn announced that he was going upstairs to get some sleep, and that Prettyman should wake him when the call came from Los Angeles.  Prettyman wandered the ground floor of the house.  He walked back into the kitchen, turned right, looked out onto the screen porch, recalled happy visits to that place.…

Prettyman laid down on the living room sofa and tried to sleep.  It did not come.  He was awake when the call came, sometime around midnight local time.  He then went upstairs, woke John Glenn, and reported that Senator Kennedy was gone.

My friend Barrett Prettyman, who lived on for almost fifty more years after June 1968, shared these memories with me and others many times.  One of his tellings, captured on video:

I saw Barrett choke up every time he recalled and tried to speak about the loss of Robert F. Kennedy.  That is, still, the only proper reaction.

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This post was emailed to the Jackson List, a private but entirely non-selective email list that reaches many thousands of subscribers around the world. I write to it periodically about Justice Robert H. Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics. The Jackson List archive site is http://thejacksonlist.com/.  To subscribe, email me at barrettj@stjohns.edu. Thank you for your interest, and for spreading the word.