Tag Archives: World War II

To Poland, to Auschwitz, for the International March of the Living

I will be in Poland later this week.

On Thursday, I will participate in the International March of the Living. It is a Holocaust education and commemoration program that, each year, organizes and assembles over 10,000 people in Poland. They include Holocaust survivors, younger adults, and many students. Many are Jews and many are non-Jews. The International March of the Living occurs at Auschwitz on Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). Marchers cover about two kilometers, walking from Auschwitz I, site of the original Nazi prison barracks and murder camp during World War II, to the much larger Auschwitz II (Birkenau) Nazi slave labor prison camp and extermination site. The March concludes in Birkenau with a ceremony of remembrance.

On Friday, I will attend and speak at a related conference, primarily for U.S. lawyers and judges, that will be held in Krakow.

I have seen Auschwitz on two previous trips—one to participate in the International March of the Living in 2016. I know from those experiences, including sights and conversations, that it all is something that I struggle, as every person does or should, to comprehend. I also know that Auschwitz and other Nazi-related sites are things that students and others ask me, often, to describe.

My words can’t meet this challenge. But I do plan this week to blog some things here, and also to tweet (@JohnQBarrett). If this is of interest, look for my writing in those places.

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.

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.

IMG_7133