April 2009 will see the 60th anniversary of the end of the so-called Nuremberg Subsequent Trials. The popularity of this informal term already hints at the still dominant interpretation of these trials as mere annex to the International Military Tribunal. This perception is evident in the recollections of both participants and observers, and still enjoys considerable currency in historical research. The symposium, on the other hand, will make the twelve trials before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal the centre of its interest. It takes particular account of their occupying that interim space between the end of the Third Reich and the foundation of the Federal Republic. Integral part of the American occupation policy and re-education programme, as well as a continuous presence during the formation of the two German states and the formative phase of the Cold War, the Nuremberg Trials reflected the various perspectives on contemporary history.
At the same time, their protagonists were themselves players on the political field. The defendants in these trials formed a highly heterogeneous group: former Reich ministers and party officials, generals of the German armed forces and members of the Einsatzgruppen all appeared in court. Though, even more strikingly, ministerial civil servants, industrialists, judges and doctors were likewise among those tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The accused were selected to reflect the whole spectrum of the NS social elite – without, however, being all that specific or exclusive to the Third Reich. Thus, there was a continuous tension between the claimed representativeness of the defendants and their necessary distinction from Western industrial societies of functionally similar structures. Through the direct confrontation of American prosecutors and judges on the one side and German defendants and lawyers on the other, the trials became a platform for a (literally) bilateral negotiation of the power to interpret the past and design the future.
The aim of this symposium is to provide a comprehensive as well as detailed overview of the twelve U.S. Trials of War Criminals; a contribution dealing with the French ‘Case XIII’ (Roechling) would also be very much welcomed. This would include the concept(s) behind the trials, their practical realisation, the strategies of the protagonists, biographical aspects of both the individuals and the groups involved in the trials, questions of international and procedural law, as well as the history of reception on both sides of the Atlantic. The participants are asked to contribute in-depth empirical analyses which can be compared and discussed at the symposium. Analysis of the trials should take account of the following aspects:
a) What were the conceptual stages the Subsequent Trials went through since 1946, and what were the criteria determining the selection of the accused? What role did early analyses by European émigrés play in the conception of the trials, e.g. Neumann’s concept of the four pillars, or Lemkin’s definition of genocide?
b) Biographical aspects of those involved in the trials: Who were the judges, prosecutors and lawyers? What had been their careers and circumstances prior to the trials? What were the criteria for their employment? What patterns can be detected in the selection of the witnesses?
c) How were the opposed parties connected to the U.S. government and occupation authorities (OCCWC, OMGUS, HICOG) on the one hand, and German (federal) authorities and institutions of civil society (the Church, pressure groups, political parties, etc.) on the other?
d) To what extent was the discourse and strategy of the Subsequent Trials influenced by (West) German, or even American, politics of history? How did the litigants reach an agreement about the facts of the respective cases, and how did they position themselves within the context of (Western) European reconstruction and the growing confrontation between the two blocks?
e) How were the trials actually conducted? And in particular: what kind of tactics and strategies were adopted, which lines of argument were pursued? What was the relationship between the five groups of judges, prosecutors, lawyers, defendants and witnesses? For this purpose a comparative approach would seem especially productive, examining differences and similarities between the individual trials and taking account of thematic overlaps (Wehrmacht, economy, etc.), as well as the changing conditions over the course of the trials. Special attention should be paid to cooperation and exchange of experiences among the respective parties, to learning processes and ways of adjustment.
f) The contemporary reception of the trials: Which trials in particular caused a stir among the German public, and which in the United States? Might this have been the result of targeted PR, and if so, by whom?
g) N.B. The IMT trial will not be discussed in this symposium.
The contributions to this symposium will be collected in a compendium with the objective of providing a complex and comprehensive account of the U.S. Trials of War Criminals in Nuremberg. The aim is not to produce a mere collection of papers, but to make visible the interrelations between the individual contributions.
The symposium will take place April 23-25, 2009, at Viadrina University in Frankfurt (Oder). Expenses for travel and accommodation will be defrayed. Please send your proposal for a contribution, together with a short biographical note, in either German or English (6.000 characters max.) to the following address: email@example.com. We especially welcome the participation of junior scholars.
Kim Christian Priemel, PhD
Chair of Comparative European
Social and Economic History
European University Viadrina
Postfach 17 86
15207 Frankfurt (Oder)
Phone: +49 (0)335 5534 - 2487
Fax: +49 (0)335 5534 - 2613
Alexa Stiller, M.A.
Leibniz Universität Hannover
Im Moore 21
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