Tag Archives: World War II

Professor Joseph A. Calamari (1919-2016)

I’m sad to report that my St. John’s University School of Law faculty colleague Joe Calamari died on December 2, 2016, at age 97.

February 27, 2007:  Celebrating Joe’s 88th birthday.

When we became colleagues in 1995, Joe was already retired from full time teaching… except for the fact that he taught actively every semester, was a leading authority on admiralty law, was hugely respected and involved in the admiralty bar in New York City, and was very connected to students and lawyers across their lives and careers.

I learned that Joe was a World War II and a Korean War veteran.

When I began to write about the Nuremberg trials, he stopped by my office to talk about them, smartly.  After a while, he said, gently, “I was there for a day—it was the day Keitel took the stand.”  His claim was true and typically modest.  We pinned down the date:  April 3, 1946.

When Joe finally, really, retired from teaching in 2011, St. John’s admiralty law society honored him at a special dinner, and the society took his name.

April 7, 2011:  Marie & Joe Calamari (and a earlier Joe photo behind them).

It was a great privilege to know him.

Jackson List: An Invitation to Join in Thanksgiving (1941)

In war-besieged London in September 1940, Harold Laski, a professor at the London School of Economics and a leading Socialist party official, thinker, and writer, penned a letter to Robert H. Jackson, Attorney General of the United States.  Laski knew Jackson through their mutual friend, U.S. Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter.  Laski wrote Jackson to introduce another friend, Professor Hersch Lauterpacht of the University of Cambridge:

15.ix.40

My dear Jackson,

I should like to introduce to you my

friend Professor H. Lauterpacht, the Whewell

Professor of International Law at Cambridge.

You well know of his outstanding work in

his own field.  I should like only to add

that there are few people for whom I care so

much.

I think we stand up well to our siege; and

we have complete confidence in the outcome.

Few things will help so much as a third term [for President Franklin D. Roosevelt].

                                    Yours very sincerely,

                                    Harold J. Laski

The Hon. Robert Jackson.

     Attorney-General’s Office.

          Washington. D.C.

Laski wrote his letter not to be mailed, but for Lauterpacht, who was spending Fall 1940 in the U.S., to use when he had an opportunity to introduce himself to Jackson.

That moment arrived at the end of the year.  On December 23rd, Lauterpacht, living in the Bronx, wrote to Jackson in Washington to request a meeting:

            Trinity College,

               Cambridge.

              [crossed out]

                                    5444 Arlington

                                                Avenue

                                    Riverdale on Hudson

                                         New York City

Dear Mr. Attorney-General,

I hope to be in Washington

between January 6-9, prior to my

departure for England.  If you

can spare the time, I should

very much appreciate an oppor-

tunity of calling on you

and paying my respects.

            I enclose a letter of introduction

from Professor Laski.

                                    Yours very truly,

                                    H. Lauterpacht

The Hon. Robert Jackson.

     Attorney-General’s Office.

          Washington. D.C.

Lauterpacht’s letter, with the enclosed vouching letter from Laski, worked.  Jackson wrote back promptly, telling Lauterpacht to contact Jackson’s secretary to schedule the meeting.

Robert Jackson and Hersch Lauterpacht met at the U.S. Department of Justice on January 8, 1941.  They discussed Nazi Germany’s bombing attacks on the United Kingdom, U.S. military assistance to the U.K., and domestic and international law issues.  And obviously they hit it off.

Over the next week, Lauterpacht stayed in downtown Washington and, at Jackson’s request, wrote him a thorough memorandum on international law issues.  It addressed, in twenty-one pages, what Jackson had described in their first meeting as “the philosophy, in international law, of the policy of aiding the [anti-Nazi U.S.] Allies by all means short of war.”  Lauterpacht sent the memorandum to Jackson on January 15th, and then they met the next day to discuss it.

Lauterpacht argued, then and later, that Nazi Germany’s military aggression, on the European continent and against the U.K., violated international law embodied in its own and in many nations’ treaty commitments.  These arguments fit with and advanced Jackson’s own legal thinking.  In the months ahead, Lauterpacht’s input contributed to some of Attorney General Jackson’s and then Justice Jackson’s—he joined the U.S. Supreme Court in July 1941—major public addresses attacking Nazi lawlessness.

And more than four years later, in circumstances that neither Jackson nor Lauterpacht could have envisioned when they first met in Washington, they worked together, in the U.K. and then in Nuremberg in the Allied-occupied former Germany, to hold Nazi leaders accountable for their illegal war-waging.

*          *          *

Justice Jackson and Professor Lauterpacht corresponded during the World War II years.  They also saw each other occasionally, when Lauterpacht was visiting the U.S.

One such occasion was November 19, 1941, seventy-five years ago, when Lauterpacht visited Justice Jackson at the Supreme Court.  Jackson asked Lauterpacht to stay over in Washington on that Wednesday night, and to join Jackson and his wife Irene the next day for Thanksgiving dinner at their home, Hickory Hill, in McLean, Virginia—“It will give Mrs. Jackson and me great pleasure if you will have dinner with us,” Jackson wrote when he communicated this invitation a few days beforehand, as he and Lauterpacht were finalizing their plans.

Alas, and to Lauterpacht’s regret, he could not accept this invitation.

He and Jackson did have later occasions to share meals, and to give thanks, including in Nuremberg.

—————–

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: March of the Living’s Nuremberg symposium, and the March

March of the Living, an annual international educational program, will host two notable events in Poland this week.

On Wednesday, May 4th, Jagiellonian University in Krakow will be the site of an international symposium, “The Double Entendre of Nuremberg:  The Nuremberg of Hate & the Nuremberg of Justice.”

  • This symposium will consider two “Nuremberg” events of historical, contemporary, and permanent significance:  Nazi Germany’s imposition, eighty years ago, of inhumane, vicious, anti-Semitic Nuremberg  Laws, and the international Nuremberg trial, during 1945-1946, seventy years ago, of the principal Nazi war criminals.
  • The symposium, presented by March of the Living International, the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, and Jagiellonian University and co-chaired by Professors Irwin Cotler (Canada) and Alan Dershowitz (United States), will be a full-day program of expert speakers from around the world.
  • For full symposium program information, click here.

On Thursday, May 5th, which will be Holocaust Memorial Day (Yom HaShoah), thousands will march silently from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration, slave labor, and extermination camp complex of World War II.  For more information on the March, click here.

I will be participating in and learning from each of these important events.  And I thank you for your interest.

—————–

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.

William L. Shirer, reporter

Today’s is the 111th anniversary of the birth of a great reporter and writer, William L. Shirer (1904-1993).  On June 22, 1940, a German photographer captured this image of Shirer, seated

Waffenstillstand von Compiègne, Berichterstatter

on the right end of a plank, pipe in mouth, typing his story of the day for broadcast on CBS radio.  The location was the forest outside the village of Compiègne, France.  The story, which Shirer thought would be recorded and reviewed by censors before it was transmitted, accidentally reached New York and the world live.  He reported that France had, that day, signed an armistice with Nazi Germany.

David Ginsburg on the Inequality of Wartime Sacrifice (1944)

David Ginsburg was a 1935 Harvard Law School graduate who became an important New Deal lawyer.  In 1939, his boss William O. Douglas, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was appointed to the Supreme Court.  Ginsburg accompanied Justice Douglas as his first law clerk.

In Fall 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Ginsburg moved into war-related work in Washington.  In 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.  During the next three years, he served in Europe.

On June 10, 1944—four days after D-Day, and seventy years ago today—Captain Ginsburg in Europe wrote a short letter to Justice Douglas at the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg began by referring to a White Paper that the British Government had published on May 26, 1944.  It outlined policies to maintain high and stable employment in Britain after the war.  “If the White Paper was important on D-10 [i.e., the day of its release, which turned out to be “D minus ten”],” Ginsburg wrote, “I suppose it’s doubly important on D+4.”

In the heart of his letter, Ginsburg wrote this comment about wartime—

We’ve worked really hard during the past few months, but it still doesn’t seem hard enough. The trouble is that war just doesn’t lend itself to any real equality of sacrifice.

David Ginsburg lived until 2010.  It was a long, very consequential life—for the Washington Post’s obituary, click here, and to download a eulogy that I had the honor to deliver at a memorial service, click here.

Ginsburg’s 1944 observation about wartime and, implicitly, about the unequal burdens of military service lives on.  It seems particularly relevant to discussions today about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the quality of care and support that the U.S. owes to those who have made the greatest sacrifices.

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