Tag Archives: IMT

Jackson List: Nuremberg & Eichmann

By the time Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally in May 1945, the victorious Allied nations had been committed officially, for more than two years, to hold defeated Nazi leaders accountable for their war-making aggression and related international crimes.  President Truman had, a few weeks earlier, recruited U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson to head the U.S. effort and he had begun to organize his staff and plans.  The United Kingdom, the U.S.S.R., and France were commencing parallel efforts.  The Allies soon would begin to negotiate and plan together.  Their occupation armies captured Nazis and voluminous documentary evidence.  The Allies soon began to name Nazi perpetrators who were potential defendants in what would become, starting in November at Nuremberg, the world’s first international criminal trial.

Adolf Eichmann was not one of those names.  We know now through detailed evidence, especially from Israel’s 1961 prosecution and conviction of Eichmann, that he was a Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who played a pivotal role in the deportations and murders of Europe’s Jews.  Eichmann, as director from 1941 forward of the Reich Main Security Office’s Jewish Affairs section (IVb4), accomplished the deportation of over 1.5 million Jews from all over Europe to extermination camps and killing sites in Nazi-occupied lands to the east.

In Spring 1945, Eichmann was not well known, much less a target of high interest, to would-be Allied prosecutors.  In early June, for example, the War Crimes Office in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps circulated to Jackson’s staff an intelligence report, “Biographies of Certain Potential War Criminals.”  This document, more than thirty pages in length, described dozens of prominent, legally culpable Nazis—and it did not mention Eichmann.  The Office of Strategic Services, the U.S. intelligence agency that by then was working very closely with Jackson, also was highlighting potential defendants, but most were familiar names from wartime press reporting, and none was Eichmann.

Eichmann’s name, and early comprehension of his criminally culpable conduct, did begin to surface that summer.  In July, Jacob Robinson, director of the World Jewish Congress’s Institute of Jewish Affairs, a lawyer and an important adviser to Justice Jackson, wrote to him, concerned about lists, which Robinson had seen in newspapers, of prospective defendants.  Robinson expressed his “great disappointment not to find in these lists the name of a man who is probably more directly responsible for the destruction of the Jews than any single Nazi”:  Eichmann.  (Click here to see Robinson’s carbon copy of this letter.)

In early August 1945, the War Department in Washington sent to Jackson’s staff in London a message identifying Eichmann as the Nazi section leader with “primary responsibility for the extermination and transportation of Jews,” and then a dossier with detailed information.

But Eichmann was not known then to be an Allied prisoner or even suspected to be living.  In late August, the Allies thus named dozens of their prisoners who would be prosecuted.  In October, they were charged.  In November, their trial commenced at Nuremberg before the International Military Tribunal.  Eichmann was not one of the Nuremberg defendants.

At Nuremberg, in both the 1945-1946 international trial and in the twelve subsequent U.S. trials, the prosecutors presented considerable evidence of Nazi planning and implementation of what we today know as the Holocaust.  Much of that evidence, both documents and witnesses, named Adolf Eichmann and explained his role.  But witnesses—his former Nazi colleagues—also testified that he had committed suicide at the end of the War.

The world did not learn otherwise until May 23, 1960, when Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion made this brief announcement to the Knesset:

A short time ago, one of the greatest of Nazi war criminals, Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible, together with the Nazi leaders, for what they called the “Final solution of the Jewish question”—that is, the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews of Europe—was found by the Israel security services. Adolf Eichmann is already under arrest in Israel, and will shortly be placed on trial in Israel under terms of the law for the trial of Nazis and their collaborators.

(It soon became known, of course, that Israeli agents had “found” Eichmann in Argentina and transported him forcibly to Israel.)

Eichmann’s 1961 trial in Jerusalem, televised to the world, included significant evidence from the Nuremberg trial record.

Veterans of Nuremberg trials were involved at the Eichmann trial as witnesses and advisors, and others were present as observers and commentators.

Jacob Robinson, formerly Jackson’s Nuremberg advisor, was involved as an assistant prosecutor of Eichmann.

Adolph Eichmann was found guilty of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and membership in a hostile organization.  He was sentenced to death.  In 1962, he was hanged.

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For those in New York City or inclined to visit, I strongly recommend seeing the powerful exhibition on Eichmann’s conduct, capture, and case, “Operation Finale,” that now is on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage:

Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann

I also had the great privilege recently, in connection with the International March of the Living, to interview retired Israeli Supreme Court justice Gabriel Bach.  In 1961, Gabriel Bach was deputy prosecutor of Eichmann.  Today, Justice Bach is the last surviving Eichmann prosecutor—and a powerful speaker, and a great hero.  To watch the interview:

Prosecuting Eichmann: An Interview with Israeli Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Bach

Finally, on October 19th I will be lecturing at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan on “From Nuremberg to Eichmann,” expanding on some of the information contained in this Jackson List post.  Please attend if you are interested.  For information and to order tickets:

From Nuremberg to Eichmann

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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.

Jackson List: Judgments Days in Nuremberg (1946)

Greetings from Nuremberg, Germany, where I am honored to be participating in conference events and ceremonies commemorating the anniversary of the conclusion of the international Nuremberg trial.

Seventy years ago, on September 30, 1946, Justice Robert H. Jackson spent his final night here in Nuremberg, in what then was the United States occupation zone of what had been, before its unconditional surrender, Nazi Germany.

As United States Chief of Counsel since May 1945, Justice Jackson had negotiated with British, French and Soviet allies the creation of the International Military Tribunal (IMT), supervised the gathering and analysis of voluminous evidence, approved and brought criminal charges against twenty-four Nazi leaders and six Nazi organizations and, in November 1945, opened history’s first international prosecution for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the next eight months, Justice Jackson worked in Nuremberg as a trial prosecutor and as an administrator of a large U.S. staff and a four-nation prosecution while also working throughout Europe as a leading occupation government official and U.S. diplomat.

Jackson’s active work in Nuremberg concluded when he delivered his closing argument to the IMT on July 26, 1946.  Five days later, he left Nuremberg temporarily, returning to the U.S. and Supreme Court work while part of his team remained in Nuremberg to present evidence against the indicted organizations and to sum up those cases, and then while the IMT judges deliberated and wrote their judgment.

Jackson landed back in Washington on August 2, 1946.  He remained there, living in his Virginia home and working at the Supreme Court, until September 18.  He then flew back to Europe, accompanied by some of his friends—Charles A. Horsky, Francis M. Shea, Robert G. Storey, and Father Edmund A. Walsh, S.J.—who had been senior members of his U.S. prosecution team during various pretrial and trial phases.  They were going back to Nuremberg to witness the IMT judgment, which was scheduled to be handed down on September 23.

After refueling stops in Goose Bay, Labrador, and in Iceland, Jackson and his delegation landed in Paris on September 20.  They learned then that the IMT had announced that its judgment would not be announced until September 30.

Justice Jackson, who had missed the previous Supreme Court term (a full year of Court work), was determined to be back on the bench in Washington when the new term began on October 7, 1946, the first Monday in October.  The IMT’s unexpected delay meant that Jackson would have almost no leeway in his travel schedule.

Jackson also, since leaving Nuremberg at the end of July, no longer had a requisitioned residence there—“his” house had passed to others.

So in late September 1946, Jackson stayed in Paris.  He worked on drafting his final report to President Truman.  He wrote and sent memoranda and cables, including back to the War Department about Nuremberg trial matters.  He also worked, it seems, on a major speech that he had agreed to deliver, long before he knew how squeezed his schedule would become, at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, on October 4.

Jackson flew from Paris to Nuremberg a few days later, but he was called back to Paris almost immediately by his friend and former U.S. Supreme Court colleague James F. Byrnes, who a year earlier had become U.S. Secretary of State.  They discussed many matters.  Some related to Germany and the Nuremberg trial.  Others concerned the Supreme Court.  One matter was Byrnes’s support for the idea of Jackson becoming U.S. Ambassador in London if, as some press reports then had it, Jackson wanted that job.  He made clear to Byrnes that he did not.

On one of their Paris afternoons together, Byrnes added Jackson to the U.S. delegation at the peace conference that was ongoing at the Quai D’Orsay.  Having experienced months of “simultaneous” (which really meant somewhat-close-to-simultaneous) four-language interpretation during the Nuremberg trial, Jackson reported that at the Paris conference it was “terribly dull to listen to interpretations into 3 other languages, 1 by 1 after [each] speaker finished.  Awful.”

On Saturday, September 28, 1946, Jackson and guests flew from Paris back to Nuremberg.  His weekend there was filled with work meetings and social activities.  Many of his travelling companions found extremely comfortable, indeed fancy, quarters.

Having lost his house, Jackson, along with his son and executive assistant Lieutenant William E. Jackson (U.S. Navy Reserve), his secretary Mrs. Elsie Douglas, and his nephew Private Harold J. Adams (U.S. Army), bunked in servants’ quarters on the top floor of a requisitioned German mansion.

Private Adams, serving in the U.S. Army of occupation, had been ordered to Nuremberg by Lieutenant General Lucius D. Clay, Deputy Military Governor in the Office of Military Government for Germany (U.S.) and thus “General” (assimilated rank) Robert Jackson’s superior officer.  Gen. Clay took this action at Jackson’s request.  He  wanted his nephew to see history.

On Monday, September 30, 1946, the IMT judges began to read their lengthy Judgment.  The IMT affirmed the validity, in international law, of each crime charged in the indictment.  That afternoon, the court returned its verdicts—some convictions, some acquittals—on the indicted organizations.  That night, Jackson hosted a dinner and then retired to his room under the eaves.

On Tuesday, October 1, 1946, the IMT delivered its verdicts on the twenty-two individual defendants.  Nineteen were found guilty and three were found not guilty.  Of the nineteen, seven were sentenced to terms of imprisonment and twelve were sentenced to death by hanging.

Immediately after the IMT adjourned for the last time, Justice Jackson issued a written statement.  He said that he was gratified that the Tribunal had sustained and applied the principle that aggressive war is a crime for which statesmen may individually be punished.  He said that he had not had time to study other aspects of the intricate opinion.  He expressed regret that the Tribunal had acquitted two defendants, Hjalmar Schacht and Franz von Papen, and that it had declined to declare the criminality of the German Army General Staff, admitting that “[o]ur argument for their conviction … seemed so convincing to all of us prosecutors” and saying that they would have to study the effect of those acquittals on further prosecutions of industrialists and military officers.

Jackson’s statement closed with a reflective, long view:

I personally regard the conviction or sentence of individuals as of secondary importance compared with the significance of the commitment by the four [Allied] nations to the position that wars of aggression are criminal and that persecution of conquered minorities on racial, religious or political grounds is likewise criminal.  These principles of law will influence future events long after the fate of particular individuals is forgotten.

At 5:30 p.m. that afternoon, Jackson left Nuremberg.  His plane made stops in Paris, the Azores and Stephenville, Newfoundland.  Before the next day, October 2, was done, he was back in Washington.

On October 3, Justice Jackson was back in his Supreme Court chambers, where he found “an awful pile of work that had accumulated in [his] absence.”

Jackson traveled from Washington to Buffalo and delivered his first post-Nuremberg speech there on October 4, 1946.

Three days later, he was present on the bench when the Supreme Court began its new term.

He never again left North America.

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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.

Jackson List: Holidays & Memories

Thank you all, the past year’s many newcomers and all of the past years’ veterans.  I truly appreciate your interest in the Jackson List, your “forwards,” your recruitments of new subscribers, and your comments.

For your reading in this season, here are some previous Jackson List posts that relate to the holidays:

  • “Heartfelt Words, Good Will & Wishes True (1913) (click here)
  • “Christmas Cards from Nuremberg (November 1945)” (click here)
  • “Lighting the First Candle:  Holocaust Film and Chanukah at Nuremberg, 1945” (click here)
  • “Holiday Note, Chief to Staff (December 1945)” (click here)
  • “Jackson in the Holiday Season” (click here)
  • “Christmas Celebration, Nuremberg, 1945” (click here)
  • “Jackson on Holiday in Athens, December 22, 1945” (click here)
  • “Supreme Court at Christmastime (1951)” (click here)

These and many more posts are on the Jackson List archive site, which is word- and phrase-searchable:  http://thejacksonlist.com/.   (Thank you, Michael Zhang.)

Lindenstrasse Christmas party

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On this date in 1945, Justice Jackson, as United States chief of counsel in Nuremberg, was one month into trial work before the International Military Tribunal (IMT), prosecuting the principal Nazi war criminals.

Last month, on the 70th anniversary of the trial’s commencement, I had the honor of participating in the City of Nuremberg’s commemoration event, held in Palace of Justice Courtroom 600, the trial site.  After delivering an introductory lecture, I moderated a conversation with three men who worked in the IMT trial process:

  • Yves Beigbeder, then an assistant to the French judge;
  • Father Moritz Fuchs, then the bodyguard of Justice Jackson; and
  • George Sakheim, then a U.S. interpreter and translator.

For streaming video of the event, click here.  After welcoming remarks (in German) from Nuremberg’s Lord Mayor and then the Vice President of the Nuremberg Higher Regional Court, my lecture (in English) begins at 16:45, followed by the group conversation (in English) beginning at 30:40.

The conversation was and is, thanks to these great men and their memories, quite wonderful and very powerful.  I encourage you, in a quiet time during your (I hope) holiday break, to view it.  It shines new light on the enduring importance of the international decision to conduct a Nuremberg trial as the decision makers and participants of 1945 and 1946 did; on the principles that they followed and advanced; on the evidentiary proof that they gathered and presented, for the case and for history; and on how all of that is a young, growing, hopeful part of our time and the years ahead.

Jackson List: The Nuremberg Trial Begins (1945)

This post now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

New Bibliography on the Nuremberg Trials

Congratulations and thanks to Professor Kevin Jon Heller and his colleague Catherine E. Gascoigne for producing, just in time for the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) proceedings at Nuremberg, a new bibliography on the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals.

Yes, that’s plural—trials.  The IMT, commencing in Fall 1945 and concluding in Fall 1946, was the one and only international Nuremberg trial.  Thereafter, the United States, with Nuremberg in the center of its military occupation zone in what had been Nazi Germany, conducted twelve additional trials there, before Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMTs), between Fall 1946 and Spring 1949.

A great virtue of the Heller/Gascoigne bibliography is that it lists and also describes in narrative, in fifteen concise pages, leading book-length publications (i.e., books and long articles) on both the IMT and the under-studied NMTs.

The IMT adjudicated the guilt of twenty-two surviving Nazi leaders plus six organizations.  It was the four-nation trial, prosecuted and judged jointly by U.S., U.K., U.S.S.R. and French representatives.  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson served as U.S. chief prosecutor.  The defendants included, to name one handful of the nineteen who were convicted, Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer and Julius Streicher.

The U.S.-only NMTs, often called the “subsequent proceedings” because they followed the IMT, adjudicated the criminal guilt of 177 additional individuals.  General Telford Taylor, previously a senior member of Jackson’s U.S. team before the IMT, served as chief prosecutor.  Each case concerned persons who had worked together in an important sector of the Third Reich.  These cases came to be known by short names of either a leading defendant or the occupational sector:  The Medical Case; The Milch Case; The Justice Case; The Pohl Case; The Flick Case; The I.G. Farben Case; The Hostage Case; The Reich Main Security Office (RuSHA) Case; The Einsatzgruppen Case; The Krupp Case; The Ministries Case; and The High Command Case.

(Unlike that list, which I arranged by the numbers (1-12) that Taylor and team assigned to the cases, Heller and Gascoigne organize NMT case-specific scholarship in alphabetized case-name order.  Neither listing method fully captures the sequence and the various overlaps of the twelve trials; for that, the best book, listed modestly in the new bibliography, is Heller’s own The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law (2011).)

This new bibliography is published in the Oxford Bibliographies online series.  That means it is only a click away but, alas, it isn’t free/it is behind a paywall.  I expect that leading libraries subscribe to the Oxford series, so teachers, researchers and students should have relatively easy access.  And anyone else can buy in, of course.

Access to this bibliography, however obtained, is a good development.  It is a fine guide to important resources on cases that are permanently significant, for how they occurred and what they uncovered, and as models and lessons for our time and the future.

(Hat tip:  Kevin Heller himself, here on Opinio Juris.)

Jackson List: London Agreement (1945)

This post, with an August 8, 1945, photograph of Lord Chancellor Jowitt, Justice Jackson and Judge Falco signing the London Agreement, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Choosing Courtroom 600 (July 1945)

This post, with a July 21, 1945, photograph of Justice Jackson and his travel party arriving at an airfield near Nuremberg, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Presidential Assignment (May 1945)

This post, with photos of President Truman, Judge Rosenman and Justice Jackson, now is on the Jackson List archive site in “book look” PDF file form.