Tag Archives: Robert H. Jackson

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: Wedding in Cold Spring Harbor (1944)

On this date in 1944, Ensign William Eldred Jackson (United States Navy Reserve), age 25, and Nancy-Dabney Roosevelt, age 21, married in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York.

The wedding, occurring on a Sunday night during wartime, was not a large affair.  The couple married in St. John’s Church, located near the Turkey Lane home of Nancy’s parents, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald B. Roosevelt (U.S. Army) and Grace Lockwood Roosevelt.  Lt. Col. Roosevelt had been in active military service, and seriously wounded, in the Pacific Theater.  That September, he somehow made it home, quite ill, only shortly before the wedding.

Cold Spring Harbor is a bit west of Oyster Bay, a town that was a childhood home of Archie, his siblings and his parents.  His father, Colonel (and also President of the United States) Theodore Roosevelt, had died in 1919, a few years before Nancy’s birth.  In 1944, her grandmother, former First Lady Edith Kermit Carow Roosevelt, age 83, was still living in her home, Sagamore Hill, and she was a beaming wedding guest.

So were Bill Jackson’s parents, Justice Robert H. Jackson and Irene Jackson.  Travelling north from Virginia, they attended the wedding and then the reception dinner that followed at the home of Archie and Grace.

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The Reverend Albert Lucas of St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., Bill’s alma mater, officiated at the wedding.  Nancy was attended by her sisters and others.  Bill’s best man was his father, Robert Jackson.  Reverend Lucas remembered, years later, what a “tribute”—I believe in both directions, son-to-father and father-to-son—“that conveyed to all present at the ceremony.”

Bill and Nancy were married for fifty-five years, until his death in 1999, and she died in 2010.  I was lucky to know each of them, and to benefit from their generous friendship.  I still do.  And of course I am thinking of them on this, their anniversary evening.

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For a 2003 film clip of Nancy Jackson recalling her father-in-law, whom she adored (you’ll see, and the feeling was very mutual), 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.

Jackson List: New Month, Quiet; Full Court, Ready (August 1941)

This post, enhanced with an image of Justice Jackson’s Aug. 1941 letter to Justice Douglas, and with some footnotes, now is on the Jackson List archive site in PDF file form.

Jackson List: Tracey Meares’s July 11th Jackson Lecture at Chautauqua Institution

This post, with links to lecture video, now is on the Jackson List archive site in PDF file form.

 

Jackson List: Supreme Court Appointments (1941)

At about this time of day on July 3, 1941, seventy-five years ago, Harlan Fiske Stone became the Chief Justice of the United States.

Three weeks earlier, on June 12th, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had nominated Stone, a former Attorney General of the U.S. and an Associate Justice since his 1925 appointment to the Court (by President Calvin Coolidge and the U.S. Senate), to succeed retiring Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes.

The Senate confirmed Stone’s nomination on Friday, June 27, 1941.

President Roosevelt thereafter signed Chief Justice Stone’s judicial commission.

On July 3rd, Justice Stone was vacationing with his wife in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes, Park, Colorado. At about 1500 local time, in a log cabin in the Park, its Commissioner, Wayne Hackett, administered first the constitutional oath of allegiance and then the judicial oath to new Chief Justice Stone.

 

The appointment of Chief Justice Stone was one piece of President Roosevelt’s three Supreme Court appointments during summer 1941. On June 12th, in addition to nominating Stone to succeed Hughes, the President nominated Senator James F. Byrnes (D.-SC) to succeed Justice James C. McReynolds, who had retired four months earlier, and Attorney General Robert H. Jackson to succeed Stone as associate justice.

The Senate had confirmed Senator Byrnes that same day, and he had been commissioned/become Justice Byrnes on June 25th.

On July 3rd, Attorney General Jackson’s appointment was still pending—he would not be confirmed by the Senate and commissioned as a Justice until July 11th.

On this eve of two hundred and forty years since the United States declared their and its independence, I hope that this history is occasion to remember and admire excellence in individuals who have served, and in the performance of institutions, in U.S. national government.

And from the Jackson List archive site, here is an earlier Fourth of July-related post:  An Impending Supreme Court Justice’s Independence Day Speech (1941) (click here).

Happy Fourth!

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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: Albany Wedding (1916)

In summer 1911, Robert H. Jackson was a nineteen-year-old high school graduate who was working to become a lawyer.  He had spent the past year as an apprentice to two Jamestown, New York, lawyers (one of whom was Jackson’s distant relative by his widowed grandmother’s late in life remarriage).

To complement that preparation, Jackson decided to spend the coming academic year as a student at Albany Law School.  It was a strong, independent, long-established law school with a two-year academic program.  It decided, in admitting Jackson, to give him credit for his year as a law apprentice—in effect, Albany admitted Jackson to its “senior” class as a transfer student.

At Albany Law School, Robert Jackson was a serious, very successful student.  He also had a social life.  A classmate introduced his cousin, Irene Alice Gerhardt of Kingston, New York, to Jackson.  She, a year-plus older than he, was a business (secretarial) school graduate who worked as a stenographer in New York State’s excise department.  She was a smart and quick witted, literary, athletic, and strikingly beautiful—and Robert Jackson fell in love.  They dated, including on ice skates at Albany’s Washington Park.  They attended dances.  She was Jackson’s date at Albany Law School’s graduation in June 1912.

Following that academic year, Jackson returned to western New York while Miss Gerhardt remained in Albany.  He resumed apprenticing for the Jamestown lawyers, who let him take on increasing responsibilities.  In 1913, when he had reached the required age of twenty-one, Jackson took and passed New York’s bar examination and was admitted to law practice.  He then commenced solo practice in Jamestown.  He struggled at first but soon attracted local notice and paying clients, then higher profile clients and cases, growing regional renown, and, in time, a variety of offers to practice with others.

As Jackson established himself professionally, he also continued to court Irene Gerhardt on the other side of New York State.  They wrote many letters.  Each visited the other occasionally, with chaperones present of course—Irene came to meet Jackson’s family in Frewsburg, New York, his boyhood home south of Jamestown, for example, and at least once he spent the Christmas holidays with Irene and her mother Margaret Gerhardt, a widow who had moved to Albany.

Mrs. Gerhardt, at first concerned that Jackson was “too skinny,” apparently came to approve of him.  As 1916 began, she announced her daughter Irene’s engagement to Mr. Jackson, and that their wedding would take place in the springtime.

RHJ & IGJ in Spring Creek (front)

On Monday, April 24, 1916—one hundred years ago today, which then was the day following Easter Sunday—Irene Gerhardt (age 25) and Robert Jackson (age 24) were married in St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Church, a grand edifice at State and Lodge Streets in Albany.  The Reverend Dr. Charles C. Harriman, rector of the church, officiated.  The ceremony, held at noontime, was a small one.  Frank H. Mott, the Jamestown lawyer to whom Jackson was distantly related and for whom he apprenticed, was his protégé’s best man (and Mott gave the bride, as a wedding gift, a book on how to keep house.)  Irene wore a blue traveling suit and hat and carried flowers.  Her sister Elizabeth (Betty) was her bridesmaid.

Following the wedding, Mrs. Gerhardt hosted a luncheon at her Albany home for the newlyweds.

Later that afternoon, the Jacksons left on a honeymoon trip to New York City and points south, including Washington, D.C.

In June 1916, they became Jamestown residents.  They soon moved to Buffalo, where Robert practiced law during 1917 and 1918.  They returned to Jamestown that fall, when Irene was expecting their first child (their son William Eldred Jackson).  Soon he had a sister (Mary Margaret Jackson).

The Jacksons lived in Jamestown fulltime for about fifteen more years.  During those years, they returned to Albany regularly to visit Irene’s mother.

And in 1934, of course, they returned to Washington, when President Roosevelt nominated and the Senate confirmed Robert H. Jackson’s first (of five) appointments to high federal office.

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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: Four Freedoms, Newly Alive at Seventy-Five

Today marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941, State of the Union address—the “Four Freedoms” speech.

In a Jackson List post five years ago (click here), I described the occasion and the speech—and the presence, in the first row of the House chamber, of Attorney General Robert H. Jackson.

I continue to recommend the following resource links, all on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum website:

In addition, or first, please watch this newly enhanced, audio-synced, High Definition video of that key passage in the speech:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrNDwyj4u1w.

In this post, Paul M. Sparrow, Director of the FDR Library, describes the creation of this new treasure:   http://fdr.blogs.archives.gov/2016/01/06/four_freedoms/.

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.

Jackson List: James B. Donovan, Before the “Bridge of Spies”

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

19450808 RHJ JBD