Tag Archives: Nuremberg

Invoking “Nuremberg”—Calling “Nazi,” Really—Too Flippantly in Chicago

During Chicago’s recent mayoral campaign, the Chicago Tribune published an article on the career of candidate Lori Lightfoot, a lawyer.

The article recounted, among other details, an incident when Lightfoot, serving in 1999 as an Assistant United States Attorney, allegedly misled a federal judge.  This resulted in her later reprimand by another federal judge, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner.

In her defense, Lightfoot explained that the incident occurred when she was “a junior lawyer following the advice of people who were much more experienced than me [sic],” and that a U.S. Department of Justice inquiry had determined that she had not “engaged in professional misconduct or exercised poor judgment.”

In response to the Tribune’s article, Scott Cisek, a senior aide to Lightfoot’s opponent Toni Preckwinkle, posted on Facebook a photograph of nine former Nazis sitting in the dock as defendants before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg during 1945-46.  The photo had a top caption ” ‘JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS’ ” and, at bottom, “HISTORICALLY THAT EXCUSE HASN’T WORKED OUT SO WELL.”

Cisek soon deleted his post and apologized.

Preckwinkle fired Cisek from her campaign.

Lightfoot, in the end, defeated Preckwinkle.

The enormous crimes of true Nazis, as proven and adjudicated in the Nuremberg trials, are matters to study, learn, and teach, with accuracy and a sense of proportion.

RIP, Dr. Walter V. Powell (1929-2019)

I write once, twice, or a few times a month to The Jackson List, a private, now very large and ever-growing email list, about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson and related topics.

One result, unexpected at first and now a great pleasure, is that people respond to Jackson List posts by emailing back to me.  Sometimes they just send thanks.  Other notes are more substantive, sometimes very personal and erudite.

Through these notes, which I try to read and at least to acknowledge (although the volume can be daunting), I’ve made a lot of special “friends”—not in-person friends, but the electronic version of what once were pen pals.

Earlier this week, an email bounce message alerted me that the email address of Walter V. Powell, long a Jackson List subscriber and one who wrote back to me regularly, was no longer functional.  By Googling, I learned that Walt Powell, professor emeritus of political science at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, age 90, died on February 27, 2019.

Dr. Powell lived a long and accomplished life.  Some of it, including his family life, his World War II military service, his education, his teaching, and his community commitments, is chronicled in this obituary.

In his emails to me, Walt Powell always sent thanks for Jackson List posts and expressed his particular interests.  One was the World War II—his—generation, including particularly people who had served on Justice Jackson’s staff prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg in 1945-46.

Walt Powell greatly admired one of them, Whitney R. Harris.  Indeed, Walt got to know Whitney through hosting him as the keynote speaker at a Slippery Rock University conference on the Nuremberg trial.  Later, Walt lamented Whitney’s failing health, then his death, and Walt remembered Whitney always.  Walt also wrote to me when “Nurembergers” Richard Sonnenfeldt, Peter Calvocoressi, Arno Hamburger, and Ernest Michel each passed away.  Walt reported to that he had used some of my writings on Nuremberg when he lectured in a class on war crimes, and that he had visited the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York.

Walt also, every holiday season, sent his greetings, thanks, and good wishes.

This post, in a small way, reciprocates that sentiment.  I am grateful that we were, in our historical studies, biographical interests, and priorities, truly colleagues.

Jackson List: On British Opinion on Nuremberg (1949)

In late October 1946, Justice Robert H. Jackson, just back to the United States from his year-plus away serving as U.S. Chief of Counsel prosecuting Nazi war criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg, happened to meet, briefly, lawyer Eugene C. Gerhart, age thirty-four.  Gerhart was a former pre-World War II secretary to a judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in Switzerland, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a veteran of U.S. Navy service during the war, a practicing lawyer in Jackson’s upstate New York homeland, and a man with interests in history and writing.  Not surprisingly, Jackson was impressed by Gerhart.

A year later, Eugene Gerhart wrote to Justice Jackson and proposed to write his biography.  Jackson was skeptical but agreed to cooperate, within the limits that his time and his respect for U.S. Supreme Court confidentiality imposed.

As Gerhart pursued his research, he posed various questions to Jackson.  In 1949, for instance, Gerhart asked Jackson about mid-1945 United Kingdom attitudes, before the London Conference concluded in August 1945 with the international agreement to create the IMT, about whether the Allies should prosecute their leading Nazi prisoners as criminals.  Gerhart also asked about U.K. attitudes since Nuremberg about the legal theories on which the trial was conducted.  He apparently had recently read British lawyer John Hartman Morgan’s 1948 book The Great Assize: An Examination of the Law of the Nuremberg Trials, and he (Gerhart) asked Jackson if he also had read it.

In response, Justice Jackson dictated, edited, and sent the following letter to Eugene Gerhart on March 17, 1949—seventy years ago today.  The letter was Jackson’s description, quite straightforward, candid, and on the record, of his thinking, which was at odds with U.K. policy at least initially in 1945, and which perhaps in 1949 was still at odds with some British views, about the legal underpinnings and the legitimacy of the Nuremberg trial.

Mr. Eugene C. Gerhart,

Security Mutual Building,

Binghamton, New York.

My dear Mr. Gerhart:

               I have not read [R.H.] Morgan’s The Great Assize.  Viscount [Frederic Herbert] Maugham, the former Lord Chancellor and brother of Somerset Maugham, was at Nurnberg briefly as a guest.

               Of course, the fundamental premises on which we prosecuted the Germans for offenses against international society are at war with the concept of sovereignty as an absolute right of a nation to do as it pleases.  This argument was made by German [defense] counsel.  However, as [Columbia University law] Professor [Philip] Jessup points out in his work, A Modern Law of Nations, page 2, no real international law can exist if this rule of unlimited sovereignty is to prevail.  This is simply one of those basic breaks between the modern and what I consider the medieval conception of the place of law among nations.  I am not disposed to deny that it [Nuremberg] was a substantial break with the past and may have been applied somewhat retroactively.

               As to the crimes against humanity, there is truth on both sides.  As I pointed out in the Opening Speech [I delivered to the IMT on November 21, 1945,], it is not every cruelty which a government inflicts upon its own people that becomes of international concern.  But you will notice in the definition of “crimes against humanity” that it is limited to those “in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.”  That is to say, when extermination, enslavement and deportation are a part of the program of aggressive warfare, they do become matters of international concern.  I think our proof amply demonstrated that the campaign against the Jews was intended to remove what they [the Nazis] regarded as an obstruction to instituting war and that the extermination was a part of the objective of the war.

               It may be true that there is no generally accepted definition of “aggressive war” and that all victors tend to justify themselves.  You will find in the minutes of the [summer 1945] London Conference that I made repeated efforts to get a definition and I never had any help from the British in doing it.

               It does not seem to me that aggressive warfare is any more vague, even if not further defined, than many of the concepts with which we work in the law.  And we must not forget that the Hitler war was aggressive by any test that anybody has ever suggested, and that he boasted of it as such.  I have dealt with these matters in a speech, copy of which is enclosed.

               This must be remembered about all British comment on the trial.  The British Government under Lord Chancellor [John] Simon was opposed to trials and wanted the war criminals disposed of by executive determination.  This fact appears in the London Conference records among the very early documents.  A large segment of British opinion remains committed to that theory or is sufficiently biased on the subject to be critical of the trials.  We rather forced trials upon them, as you will see from the London minutes, and there has been some disposition among the British not perhaps to resent that fact but at least to try to make up for it by criticism of what was done.

               I trust this gives you, in general, what you want.

               With best wishes, I am

                                                               Sincerely yours,

                                                               /s/ Robert Jackson

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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: 127th Birthday

Today marks the 127th anniversary of Robert Houghwout Jackson’s 1892 birth, in his family’s farmhouse in Spring Creek Township, Warren County, Pennsylvania.

For your Jackson Birthday reading, here are some previous Jackson Birthday-related posts:

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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: Spandau Prisoner Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess was one of Adolf Hitler’s earliest friends and devoted supporters.  Imprisoned with Hitler in the 1920s, Hess assisted his writing of Mein Kampf.  Hess was at Hitler’s side as the Nazi Party gained support and then political power.  After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hess became Deputy Führer.  He assisted Hitler through the rest of the decade, as Germany built up its military strength and then started World War II, coercing some countries to capitulate and attacking others.

In May 1941, Hess became a British prisoner.  He was captured in Scotland, where he had flown from Germany on an odd, apparently solo, mission.  It seems that Hess sought to negotiate a United Kingdom-Germany peace agreement.

In 1945, following Nazi Germany’s military defeat and unconditional surrender, the Allies created the International Military Tribunal (IMT), charged Hess as a war criminal, and transported him to Nuremberg for trial (where Justice Jackson of course served as chief U.S. prosecutor).  Hess was tried there and, in Fall 1946, convicted of conspiracy and crimes against peace and sentenced to life in prison.

Hess was transported to Spandau Prison in Berlin and served his sentence there.  As the other prisoners completed their terms and were released, Hess became the only person still held in Spandau.  He died there, by suicide, in 1987, age 93.

Over the years, a story developed that the real Hess had been somehow, at some point in 1941 or later, freed, switched for a “double” who became the prisoner of Spandau.

This story, which involved neo-Nazi Hess supporters and was meaningful to them, never seemed to have much to it.

In any case, it now seems to have been disproven.  Austrian scientists, testing a preserved blood sample from the Spandau prisoner, have matched it to a DNA sample from a distant male relative of Hess.

Here are some links with further details—

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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: Christmas & C.A.R.E. (1947)

From May 1945 until October 1946, United States Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson served, by appointment of President Truman, as U.S. Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis War Criminals in the European Theater.

During that period, Justice Jackson spent the first few months organizing and working with his staff, gathering and analyzing evidence, and conducting international diplomacy, in Washington and in Paris and mostly in London.

Beginning in September 1945, Jackson spent most of his time in Nuremberg in Allied-occupied former Germany, serving before the International Military Tribunal as U.S. chief prosecutor of Nazi war criminals.

In Nuremberg, Justice Jackson and his immediate staff—his son and executive assistant Lieutenant William E. Jackson, his secretary Mrs. Elsie L. Douglas, and his bodyguard Private Moritz Fuchs—lived in a large house located at Lindenstrasse 33, in Dambach, Fürth, the city adjacent to Nuremberg.  The U.S. Army had seized the house from its German owners.  U.S. soldiers guarded the street and the perimeter of the property.  Army drivers, always varying their routes, ferried Jackson and his team between the house, the Palace of Justice courthouse, and other Nuremberg and area locations.

For Justice Jackson, Lindenstrasse 33 became home, his place to eat and sleep.  Except for his time away on trips elsewhere in Europe and in the Middle East, he lived in the house from September 15, 1945, until July 31, 1946.

For Jackson, the house was more than his residence.  It also was his office away from the courthouse.  It was a place where he held many important staff conferences.  He also used its relative quiet to read, think, and write.

Lindenstrasse 33 also was Justice Jackson’s place to entertain.  He often hosted, at the house, his colleagues from the U.K., the U.S.S.R., and France, his regular “very important” visitors from the U.S. and other nations, and many members of his staff.  At Christmastime 1945, for instance, Jackson hosted, at the house, holiday parties, meals, and caroling around a Christmas tree.

During Justice Jackson’s time at Lindenstrasse 33, he was served in the house by a German staff.  An older woman cooked.  A younger woman assisted her and was a chambermaid.  An older man stoked the heat and performed maintenance and yard work.  A younger man, who dressed formally for work, was the waiter.

*          *          *

Justice Jackson, following his return to the U.S. and Supreme Court service in 1946, maintained contact with his former Nuremberg house waiter, Joseph Ullrich.  In 1947, for example, Jackson sent a C.A.R.E. (Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, Inc.) package to Ullrich, who was still living and working in Nuremberg.

Mr. Ullrich responded, in imperfect English, by typing and sending Jackson this letter of gratitude:

Dear Sir,

Often I have been thinking of you and ——– yesterday it was a delightful day for me and my family when I get to my great surprise and joy your Care-package.

My family and myself say you many, hearty thanks for it.  It is very kind of you that you were thinking so of your waiter in Nuremberg.

At present there are four trials in the court of Justice.  …

I hope that you will come again one day.

Please give my compliments to your son and your niece (secretary).

With best compliments to you and your family, I remain Dear Sir,

Yours faithfully

/s/ J.L. Ullrich

In 1950, Justice Jackson sent Mr. Ullrich a Christmas card and gifts—perhaps another C.A.R.E. package.

In early January 1951, Jackson followed up with a letter—perhaps to check if the first mailing had arrived.

In February 1951, Joseph Ullrich sent back another typed letter to Justice Jackson:

            I gladly received your X-mas—card as well as the letter of Jan. 9th.

            A big surprise was the Christmas-box, arriving in January.  It meant much gladness to me and I wish to express to you, dear Mr. Robert H. Jackson, my most heartfelt thanks for it.

            For the future I take the liberty to wish you happiness, success and good health[.]

                                    most sincerely

                                    /s/ J.L. Ullrich

*          *          *

In this season, I wish you happy holidays, Merry Christmas, success, and good health.

And I wish you good care—I hope that you get lots of it, and that you give it, with thanks, for as long as you can, to many others in your life.

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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: DOJ Antitrust Division Jackson-Nash Address, Sept. 20, 2018

Earlier this year, the Antitrust Division in the United States Department of Justice established the Jackson-Nash Address.

According to Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, the goal of this lecture series is “to recognize the contributions of former Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson and Nobel Laureate economist John Nash, and to honor the speaker, recognizing and celebrating the role of economics in the mission of the [Antitrust] Division.”

Robert H. Jackson headed the Antitrust Division during 1937.  As the Division explained when it announced this new lecture series, Jackson’s leadership set the stage for the expanded role of economics in antitrust, replacing vague legal standards with the “protection of competition” as the goal of antitrust law.  And Dr. John Nash’s research provides Antitrust Division economists with analytic tools necessary to protect competition.  In particular, Division economists commonly rely on Nash’s strategic theory of games and his axiomatic bargaining model to guide investigations and to help evaluate the effects of mergers, monopolization, and collusion.

On February 28, 2018, Dr. Alvin E. Roth, the McCaw Professor of Economics at Stanford University, delivered the inaugural Jackson-Nash lecture.  Professor Roth is the 2012 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.

*          *          *

I am pleased to announce here that the second Jackson-Nash program, open to the public, will occur on Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. in the Great Hall at the U.S. Department of Justice, The Robert F. Kennedy Building, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.  The program will consist of:

  • Introductory remarks by Department of Justice leadership; 
  • my historical lecture, Competition: Robert H. Jackson as Assistant Attorney General—Antitrust (January 21, 1937–March 5, 1938); and
  • an address by Dr. George A. Akerlof, University Professor at Georgetown University.  Dr. Akerlof is the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for analyses of markets with asymmetric information (including his well-known article “The Market for ‘Lemons’: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism” (1970).)

A reception in the Great Hall will follow the program.

Because space is limited, anyone who is interested to attend should RSVP to ATR.AAGRSVP@USDOJ.GOVGuests should enter Main Justice at the 10th Street and Constitution Avenue entrance.

*          *          *

And some Jackson history—

Robert H. Jackson became Assistant Attorney General heading the Antitrust Division at the start of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term in office.  Jackson already was an Assistant Attorney General of the United States—Roosevelt had nominated him to that office and the Senate had confirmed him a year earlier, and throughout 1936 AAG Jackson headed DOJ’s Tax Division.  In January 1937, U.S. Attorney General Homer S. Cummings announced a series of personnel moves in the Department, including Jackson’s transfer to head the Antitrust Division.  (Its leader was leaving government to become a law professor.)

By January 1937, Jackson had become a nationally prominent young New Dealer.  His transfer within DOJ from Tax to Antitrust thus was news.  And that triggered a wave of congratulatory messages to him.

One telegram that was particularly meaningful to Jackson came from a friend who was, at that time, a Wall Street lawyer.  “Let me congratulate you on your opportunity for doing a fine constructive job which I know you will do,” he wrote to Jackson.  “Looking forward to seeing you.”

In that busy time, Robert Jackson happened to see the friend in person before Jackson got around to acknowledging in writing the good wishes.  But within a few weeks, Jackson wrote back to thank the friend.

They were, in their life and professional paths, fellow western New Yorkers who each had practiced law in Buffalo.  Jackson’s friend also had served in the World War—with extraordinary valor, resulting in him receiving a number of the highest U.S. military awards and becoming a national hero.

After the War, the friend served in the federal government, in Buffalo and then in Washington.  He did this ahead of Jackson—the friend was almost ten years older, and his Republican Party controlled the White House throughout the 1920s, and, yes, he was famous long before most noticed Jackson.

Jackson wrote back to his friend on February 3, 1937:

My dear Colonel Donovan, 

I am just getting to answer congratulatory messages and, in spite of the fact that a meeting with you has intervened, I want to express appreciation of your telegram. 

I take the job with no delusion about its magnitude or its difficulty at this time.  Not the least of the difficulties is that of succeeding other western New York lawyers who have handled the office with such distinction. 

With best regards and good wishes, I am 

            Sincerely yours, 

            /s/ [Robert H. Jackson]

William J. (“Wild Bill”) Donovan, as principal assistant to U.S. Attorney General John G. Sargent, had headed the Antitrust Division, among other responsibilities, from 1925 until 1929.  Donovan  later returned to government service under President Roosevelt, including, as General Donovan, to found and run the wartime Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.).

And in May 1945, Justice Jackson, after President Truman appointed him to be the U.S. chief of counsel in the international war crimes prosecutions of surviving Nazi German leaders, recruited his old friend General Donovan to be his deputy.

During their months together in that work, which became the Nuremberg trial beginning in late 1945, Jackson and Donovan discussed many things.  One topic that was at least in the background, including as they planned and debated such things as “the Economics case” against Nazi defendants and the merits of basing criminal prosecution on documentary evidence, was their shared, formative experience of heading DOJ’s Antitrust Division.

If you are interested to walk in such footsteps, and in the kind of high ideas that motivate DOJ’s best work, please join us in the Great Hall on September 20th.

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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: The World Outlaws War (1928)

For the Jackson List:

On Monday, August 27, 1928—ninety years ago today—representatives of fifteen nations, meeting in Paris, signed a treaty that outlawed war as an instrument of national policy. They committed themselves to settling disputes by peaceful means.

On behalf of France, the conference host and treaty-signer was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aristide Briand. On behalf of the United States, the signer was Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg. The other signatory nations represented in Paris were the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The United States Senate subsequently ratified the treaty. Over time, many more nations joined the Pact of Paris. By early 1933, sixty-five states were parties to the treaty, which in the U.S. came to be called “Kellogg-Briand.”

* * *

This global agreement did not, of course, prevent all war. A second world war started less than a decade after the treaty. From 1939 until 1945, World War II wreaked a horrific toll in Europe and in the Pacific.

The Allied powers ultimately prevailed. They then, acting together, charged surviving leaders of the Axis powers with the crime of waging aggressive war.

In the European theater, this case was tried in Nuremberg. On November 21, 1945, U.S. Supreme Justice Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor of the Nazi defendants, explained aggressive war’s illegality by invoking Kellogg-Briand as a crucial development. It was, legally, the spine of the Allied prosecution of Nazi leaders for planning and then waging wars of aggression:

The first and second Counts of the Indictment [charge the] crimes … of plotting and waging wars of aggression and wars in violation of nine treaties to which Germany was a party.

There was a time—in fact, I think the time of the first World War—when it could not have been said that war-inciting or war-making was a crime in law, however reprehensible in morals.

Of course, it was, under the law of all civilized peoples, a crime for one man with his bare knuckles to assault another. How did it come that multiplying this crime by a million, and adding firearms to bare knuckles, made it a legally innocent act? The doctrine was that one could not be regarded as criminal for committing the usual violent acts in the conduct of legitimate warfare. The age of imperialistic expansion during the 18th and 19th centuries added the foul doctrine, contrary to the teachings of early Christian and international law scholars such as Grotius, that all wars are to be regarded as legitimate wars. The sum of these two doctrines was to give war-making a complete immunity from accountability to law.

This was intolerable for an age that called itself civilized. Plain people, with their earthy common sense, revolted at such fictions and legalisms so contrary to ethical principles and demanded checks on war immunities. Statesmen and international lawyers at first cautiously responded by adopting rules of warfare designed to make the conduct of war more civilized. The effort was to set legal limits to the violence that could be done to civilian populations and to combatants as well.

The common sense of men after the first World War demanded, however, that the law’s condemnation of war reach deeper, and that the law condemn not merely uncivilized ways of waging war but also the waging in any way of uncivilized wars—wars of aggression. The world’s statesmen again went only as far as they were forced to go. Their efforts were timid and cautious and often less explicit than we might have hoped. But the 1920s did outlaw aggressive war.

The reestablishment of the principle that there are unjust wars and that unjust wars are illegal is traceable in many steps. One of the most significant is the Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1928, by which Germany, Italy, and Japan, in common with practically all nations of the world, renounced war as an instrument of national policy, bound themselves to seek the settlement of disputes only by pacific means, and condemned recourse to war for the solution of international controversies. This pact altered the legal status of a war of aggression. As Mr. Stimson, the United States Secretary of State put it in 1932, such a war “is no longer to be the source and subject of rights. It is no longer to be the principle around which the duties, the conduct, and the rights of nations revolve. It is an illegal thing…. By that very act, we have made obsolete many legal precedents and have given the legal profession the task of reexamining many of its codes and treaties.”

The Geneva Protocol of 1924 for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, signed by the representatives of 48 governments, declared that “a war of aggression constitutes…an international crime.” The Eighth Assembly of the League of Nations in 1927, on unanimous resolution of the representatives of 48 member nations, including Germany, declared that a war of aggression constitutes an international crime. At the Sixth Pan-American Conference of 1928, the 21 American Republics unanimously adopted a resolution stating that “war of aggression constitutes an international crime against the human species.”

A failure of these Nazis to heed or to understand the force and meaning of this evolution in the legal thought of the world is not a defense or a mitigation. If anything, it aggravates their offense and makes it the more mandatory that the law they have flouted be vindicated by juridical application to their lawless conduct. Indeed, by their own law—had they heeded any law—these principles were binding on these defendants. Article 4 of the Weimar constitution provided that: “The generally accepted rules of international law are to be considered as binding integral parts of the law of the German Reich.” Can there be any doubt that the outlawry of aggressive war was one of the “generally accepted rules of international law” in 1939?

Any resort to war—to any kind of a war—is a resort to means that are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty, and destruction of property. An honestly defensive war is, of course, legal and saves those lawfully conducting it from criminality. But inherently criminal acts cannot be defended by showing that those who committed them were engaged in a war, when war itself is illegal. The very minimum legal consequence of the treaties making aggressive wars illegal is to strip those who incite or wage them of every defense the law ever gave, and to leave war-makers subject to judgment by the usually accepted principles of the law of crimes.

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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: Hospital Birth (1919)

In 1911, Robert H. Jackson, a law student, met Irene A. Gerhardt, a state government secretary, in Albany, New York.  They dated during that academic year while Robert, a senior at Albany Law School, completed its program.

In summer 1912, Robert returned to Jamestown in western New York State, the city where he had already begun to establish himself.  After he became a lawyer in 1913, he built his law practice there.  He saved money to buy a house and courted Irene by letter and occasional visits.

In 1916, Robert and Irene Jackson married in Albany and then made Jamestown their home.  Within months, however, he was recruited to practice law with a prominent law firm in Buffalo.  So they moved to an apartment and lived there for the next two years.

It seems that while Robert practiced law in Jamestown and in Buffalo, Irene assisted him a bit but was not employed outside the home.  Although she was a quiet person and new to western New York, she made friends and got involved in community activities.

In Fall 1918, Robert Jackson was recruited back to Jamestown to serve as corporation counsel (the city’s attorney).  At about that same time, Irene became pregnant.

That brings us to today, July 19th.  On this date in 1919, the Jacksons became parents.  Their son William Eldred Jackson, named for Robert’s late father, was born on Saturday, July 19, 1919, in Jamestown’s WCA Hospital.

More than three decades later, Robert—by then Justice Jackson—recorded these thoughts, which are focused quite a bit on finances, about the July 1919 passage in his life:

When Bill was born I had a sense of getting a great deal more credit for it than I had earned and a certain sense of the vastness of new obligations.  I took out additional insurance.  I felt an interest in the public schools and the future of the community that I hadn’t quite so keenly felt before.  Generally I behaved as one, I suppose, who had given hostages to fortune.  I also felt that my wife was more helpless.  Up to that time I had felt that if anything happened to me, she could take care of herself quite readily, but encumbered by a child I felt that she was entitled to added protection, which I tried to provide by way of insurance.  I don’t know that I analyzed my feelings too deeply because I was pretty busy practicing law and taking care of my responsibilities.

Having a family, I suppose, was a new kind of burden for me, but I can’t say that I ever was really burdened.  I didn’t have much money, but never in my professional life was there a time when I had any problem about meeting my office rent or any obligations.  I was careful about not incurring them if I couldn’t meet them.  Somehow or other I always managed to be ahead of my obligations.  That was one of the things that my father taught me and made very emphatic.  My credit rating was always first-class in the local stores and banks.  I never had any difficulty with financial matters.

My son was not born at home.  That was a departure from anything that ever happened in my family.  My two sisters and a brother who didn’t live had all been born at home.  That was the accepted thing as far as I knew.  But the doctor said my wife should go to the hospital, so hospital it was.

Bill Jackson, whom I had the great fortune to know, became a gifted writer and lawyer.  He was, as a U.S. Navy officer, his father’s executive assistant in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg during 1945-1946.  He spent his career practicing law at a leading international law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.  And he was, proudly, a father.

In this photograph, taken when Bill was about one year old, he sits in his father’s lap.

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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: 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.