Tag Archives: Justice Robert H. Jackson

Update re The Jackson List

As you might know, I write about Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), United States Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg chief prosecutor of Nazi war criminals following World War II.  Jackson is one of the most enduringly significant lives of the 20th century.  Among other things, I am a Jackson biographer, discoverer and editor of his acclaimed book That Man on President Franklin D. Roosevelt (which also is a Jackson autobiography), author of many articles on Jackson, a regular lecturer across the U.S. and internationally on Jackson and related topics, and a fellow and board member at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York.

An outgrowth of all that is that I email a few notes each month, on Justice Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg, and/or related topics, to “The Jackson List.”  It is a one-way, private email list that reaches many thousands of direct subscribers—teachers, students, scholars, lawyers, Judges, and other learners—and, through their forwarding, reposting, blogging, etc., many others around the world.

In the past, I have used this blog site to post items as they are sent to The Jackson List.  But it has migrated to a new platform and better technology.  (Thank you, IT aces!)  So from now on, new Jackson List posts will go by email to The Jackson List and, simultaneously, be posted on its archive site—

https://thejacksonlist.com/

To subscribe to The Jackson List, sign up there, or send me an email.

Thanks very much for your interest, and for spreading the word.

Jackson List: Update on DOJ’s Much-Coveted AG Jackson Portrait

During his seven-plus years as a high official in the Executive Branch of the United States Government, Robert H. Jackson served mostly in the U.S. Department of Justice.  Yes, Jackson…


UPDATE:  This post, edited a little bit and enhanced with citations, photographs, etc., now is in on the Jackson List archive site, which is searchable, in book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Heard July 5th on the National Mall: An Impending Supreme Court Justice’s Independence Day Speech (1941)

Below, for reading on this day after Independence Day and on other days, is the speech that Robert H. Jackson, then Attorney General of the United States, delivered in a radio studio on Friday, July 4, 1941. ….


UPDATE:  This post, edited a little bit and enhanced with citations, photographs, etc., now is in on the Jackson List archive site, which is searchable, in book look” PDF file form.

Jackson List: Donald Verrilli’s Jackson Lecture, Chautauqua Institution, July 1st

I am very pleased to report that Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., former Solicitor General of the United States (2011-2016), will give Chautauqua Institution’s 15th annual Robert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States, on Monday, July 1, 2019, at 4:00 p.m. in Chautauqua’s Hall of Philosophy.

Don Verrilli, a graduate of Yale College and Columbia Law School and a former law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge J. Skelly Wright (D.C. Cir.) and U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., is an acclaimed American lawyer and courtroom advocate, including arguing fifty cases in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Following two decades in private law practice, Mr. Verrilli served in the Obama Administration, first as Associate Deputy Attorney General, then as Deputy White House Counsel, and then as Solicitor General of the U.S.

As Solicitor General, Mr. Verrilli, among other highlights, successfully defended the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the constitutional protection of marriage equality.

Since 2016, Mr. Verrilli has been a partner in Munger, Tolles & Olson, handling matters before the Supreme Court and the U.S. Courts of Appeals and representing and counseling clients on litigation, regulatory, and public policy problems—for his law firm page, click here.

The Jackson Lecture will bring Mr. Verrilli to Chautauqua Institution, a special venue of arts, education, and recreation in western New York State.  Chautauqua was a very significant part of Robert H. Jackson’s life, his broad and self-directed education, his public speaking training and experiences, and his thinking.  For an earlier Jackson List post on Chautauqua Institution, click here.  To view a 2011 documentary, “An American Narrative,” on Chautauqua, click here.  And click here for its website.

The Jackson Lecture at Chautauqua Institution is a leading annual consideration of the Supreme Court of the United States, on which Justice Jackson served from 1941-1954, in the weeks following the completion of the Supreme Court’s annual Term.

This year, with the Supreme Court scheduled to begin its summer recess late this month and a number of momentous decisions expected before then, Mr. Verrilli’s Jackson Lecture will be especially well-timed.

In past years, Chautauqua’s Jackson Lecturers have been:

  • 2005:  Geoffrey R. Stone, University of Chicago professor;
  • 2006:  Linda Greenhouse, New York Times writer and Yale Law School professor;
  • 2007:  Seth P. Waxman, WilmerHale partner and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2008:  Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer at The New Yorker and CNN senior legal analyst;
  • 2009:  Paul D. Clement, Kirkland & Ellis LLP partner and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2010:  Jeff Shesol, historian, communications strategist, and former White House speechwriter;
  • 2011:  Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate and Amicus podcast host;
  • 2012:  Pamela Karlan, Stanford University professor;
  • 2013:  Charles Fried, Harvard University professor and former Solicitor General of the United States;
  • 2014:  Akhil Reed Amar, Yale University professor;
  • 2015:  Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard University professor;
  • 2016:  Tracey L. Meares, Yale University professor;
  • 2017:  Judge Jon O. Newman, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and
  • 2018:  Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, of the Supreme Court of Canada.

For a video library of some past Jackson Lectures, and also video of interviews with lecturers during their visits to Chautauqua Institution, click here.

For further information on Don Verrilli’s upcoming lecture, 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: 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

—————–

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.

—————–

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: Video of Barnette 75th anniversary symposium, Florida International University

I had the opportunity to participate last Friday in an excellent symposium, “Barnette at 75: The Past, Present, and Future of the ‘Fixed Star in Our Constitutional Constellation,’” at Florida International University College of Law in Miami.

The symposium considered, from many angles, the United States Supreme Court’s 1943 decision, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, including its historical context, meanings, flaws, and legacies.

In Barnette, the Supreme Court invalidated a state requirement that public school teachers and students participate in a salute to the American flag and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Court held, 6-3, that these requirements violated the constitutional rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses schoolchildren.  In his opinion for the Court, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote that “[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Video of the symposium proceedings is online here:

https://lawmediasite.fiu.edu/Mediasite/Play/27a74d007718451491014865286f52e21d.

To view any (or every) speaker, here are the respective video time-counter readings:

0:20:26

Welcome and Introduction, Prof. Howard Wasserman, Faculty Symposium Organizer

0:25:00

Welcome remarks, Dean Antony Page, Florida International University College of Law

First Panel: Barnette in Historical Context

0:32:13

Ronald K. L. Collins, Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington School of Law

  • Thoughts on Hayden C. Covington and the Paucity of Litigation Scholarship

0:57:07

John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion, Washington University School of Law

  • Barnette and the Four Freedoms

1:13:20

Genevieve Lakier, Professor of Law, University of Chicago School of Law

  • Barnette, Compelled Speech, and the Regulatory State

1:32:00

Brad Snyder, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

  • Frankfurter and the Flag Salute Cases

Second Panel: Reading Barnette

2:39:15

Aaron Saiger, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law

  • The Pedagogy of Barnette

3:00:49

Steven Smith, Warren Distinguished Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law

  • “Fixed Star” or “Twin Star”? The Ambiguity of Barnette

3:20:58

Paul Horwitz, Gordon Rosen Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law

  • Barnette: A Close Reading (for Vince Blasi)

Keynote Address

4:31:55

John Q. Barrett, Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law

  • Justice Jackson & Jehovah’s Witnesses: Barnette in its Context, and in Jackson’s Life and Work

Third Panel:  Barnette in Modern Context

5:30:05

Erica Goldberg, Professor of Law, University of Dayton School of Law

  • “Good Orthodoxy” and the Legacy of Barnette

5:52:12

Abner S. Greene, Leonard F. Manning Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law

  • Barnette and Masterpiece Cakeshop: Some Unanswered Questions

6:12:19

Leslie Kendrick, Vice Dean and David H. Ibbeken ’71 Research Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law

  • A Fixed Star in New Skies: The Evolution of Barnette

 

Articles based on these lectures will be published in a symposium issue of the FIU Law Review.

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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: Resignation Offer, Presidential Response (1941)

In January 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated his number two official in the United States Department of Justice, Solicitor General Robert H. Jackson, to move up into the Department’s top job.  It was becoming vacant due to the President’s simultaneous appointment of Attorney General Frank Murphy to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S.

The U.S. Senate swiftly confirmed the appointments.  President Roosevelt signed Jackson’s commission and he was sworn in as Attorney General on January 18, 1940.

Later that year, war engulfed the European continent.  By June, the United Kingdom stood alone as unconquered by Nazi Germany.  The U.S. pursued significant rearmament, provided desperately needed aid to the U.K., and reinstituted military conscription.  The prospect that world war would engulf the U.S. was real and alarming.  And in November, President Roosevelt was reelected to an unprecedented third term.

In January 1941, as Inauguration Day approached, Attorney General Jackson was battling illness.  In the end, it caused him to miss the inauguration ceremony and related events.  But Jackson made it a point, on January 16, to dictate, sign, and send this a formal letter to the White House:

            My dear Mr. President:

I hereby present my resignation as

Attorney General of the United States effective

at your pleasure.

                        You are about the enter a new admin-

istration significant because of the problems peculiar

to these rapidly moving times.  It seems appropri-

ate to relinquish a position for which I was

chosen in very different conditions and for

qualifications which may no longer be appropri-

ate.

            It would be impossible in words to

express my appreciation for the honor of your

confidence.

                        Respectfully yours,

                        [/s/ Robert H. Jackson]

President Roosevelt responded two days later by writing, in longhand, this note:

Dear Bob

            I do hope you’re feeling

better – Don’t try to attend

anything Monday [January 20] unless the

M.D. really says yes.

            Thank you for your note.  It

can only have one answer:

Stay put

                        Affec.

                        FDR

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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.

—————–

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.