Chat with us, powered by LiveChat You are doing a deep dive into the article.go beyond summerizing the paper to analyze the author’s argument. what sort of sou - School Writers

You are doing a deep dive into the article.go beyond summerizing the paper to analyze the author’s argument. what sort of sou

You are doing a deep dive into the article.go beyond summerizing the paper to analyze the author's argument. what sort of sources does she use to back her argument? how does she use those sources? where do you think she is effective and hwere do you think she fails? 900 words paper.

On February 22, 1946, the Lithuanian-born Jewish poet and partisan Avrom

Sutzkever arrived in Nuremberg to testify before the International Military Tribunal

(IMT). The first and only Nazi war-crime trial held jointly by the four victorious

Allies—the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and [End Page 107]

France—the IMT indicted a cross section of Nazi Germany’s political, military,

diplomatic, and economic leadership on charges of crimes against peace, war

crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy to wage aggressive war. Sutzkever

had flown from Vilna via Moscow, Minsk, and Berlin along with eight other witnesses,

all of them non-Jews, who would testify for the Soviet prosecution against the 22

“major war criminals,” among them Hermann Göring, Julius Streicher, Ernst

Kaltenbrunner, Hans Frank, Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach, Alfred Rosenberg,

Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Rudolf Hess, in addition to Martin Bormann in

absentia. Sutzkever found great meaning in his court appearance as a survivor of

the German genocide of European Jews. “I feel a tremendous responsibility and I

pray that the souls of the martyrs will lament from my words,” he noted in his diary

upon arrival in Nuremberg, adding: “I want to speak in Yiddish … in the language of

the nation whom the men in the dock tried to extinguish. … Our mother tongue must

be heard. … It shall triumph in Nuremberg as a symbol of our immortality.”1

His testimony on the morning of February 27, 1946, described how the Germans

had murdered his baby boy in the infants’ ward of the Jewish hospital in the Vilna

ghetto and detailed the mass shootings of 60,000 Jews at Ponary. Sutzkever twice

refused a request to sit down from the presiding judge, British chief justice Sir

Geoffrey Lawrence. “I spoke standing as if I was saying kaddish for the dead,”2 he

remarked after his testimony, confiding in his diary his one grievance: he had not

been allowed to speak Yiddish but had to testify in Russian. Sutzkever’s interrogator,

Soviet prosecutor L. N. Smirnov, explained that the tribunal’s rules allowed only four

official languages—English, Russian, German, and French—and the court lacked

suitable interpreters.3 Beyond silencing the language of millions of Jewish victims,

the need to describe his traumatic experiences in a foreign language proved

inhibiting for Sutzkever: “I am not that strong in the Russian language that I could

transmit the quivers of my soul.”4

This episode raises a number of important issues, beginning with the roles and

representation of Holocaust survivors in Allied war-crime trials and specifically at

Nuremberg. How can it be that the first international court to prosecute “crimes

against humanity,” in a monumental 11-month trial that is now widely remembered as

the birthplace of “Holocaust consciousness,” lacked Yiddish translators? And why

did the 94 witnesses who spoke in the courtroom—30 of them also testifying on

crimes against Jews—include only three Jews? What roles did Jewish individuals

and organizations play at the [End Page 108] tribunal? What position did the Jews

as a transnational victim group not represented by a single government have in an

international legal system that was based on state representation? To what extent

was the Allied military court at Nuremberg an effective tool for advancing Jewish

security and equality in the postwar era? What were the tensions and the overlaps

between Jewish concerns with retribution after 1945 and the legal preoccupations of

the Allied powers?

Sutzkever’s appearance in Nuremberg also raises questions as to how

Jews—survivors and nonsurvivors—related to the tribunal at the time. For example,

what does Sutzkever’s equation of his testimony with the traditional Jewish prayer of

mourning tell us about the IMT’s significance for Jews in the immediate aftermath of

World War II? What roles did Jews envision for themselves in the prosecution of

Nazi war criminals, what expectations and apprehensions did they bring to the trial,

and how did they evaluate the Allies’ treatment of the Jewish fate?

In the ever-growing body of literature on the IMT and other war-crime tribunals in

postwar Germany, the ways in which the Allies treated the crimes that we now call

the Holocaust have received considerable attention. Historians are nevertheless

divided in their assessment of the Allied representation of the Jewish tragedy at

Nuremberg. Some argue that the international trial, which lasted from November

1945 through October 1946, was a milestone in understanding the unprecedented

magnitude of the catastrophe visited upon European Jews. As Michael R. Marrus

has shown, although the IMT’s presentation of the Nazi genocide of European Jews

was far less complex, nuanced, and historically accurate than it would be today, the

trial still provided the first comprehensive account before an international body of the

development and extent of the systematic mass murder of two-thirds of European

Jewry. The indictment mentioned crimes against Jews under all four counts—crimes

against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and plan or conspiracy to wage

aggressive war—and references to persecution and mass murder of Jews,

illustrated by graphic documentary evidence, permeated the entire proceedings.5

Other scholars, Donald Bloxham in particular, tend to emphasize the shortcomings

of the IMT and other Allied war-crime tribunals, specifically noting that the Allies

failed to pay due attention to the genocide of European Jews and that their own

respective biases and political interests colored their historical understanding of the

event.6 However, as Lawrence Douglas rightly observes, the IMT was not actually a

“Holocaust trial”: the prosecution, rather than being “primarily occupied with trying

the defendants for the extermination of the Jews … instead focused on the

accuseds’ roles in [End Page 109] launching and waging an aggressive war.” Yet,

as Douglas further remarks, “the extermination of the Jews was importantly explored

and condemned at Nuremberg, especially as it was filtered through the freshly

minted legal category of crimes against humanity.”7

Regardless of which position one might take in this debate, it is a striking fact that

so far historians of Allied postwar justice have mainly focused on Jews as the Nazis’

murdered victims. As Holocaust survivors, actors, and agents, Jews have received

little to no attention in the scholarship on Nuremberg.8 Questions as to what Jewish

observers in the immediate postwar years had to say about the representation of the

Jewish catastrophe in Allied war-crime trials and what roles Jews played in and

around these tribunals have hardly been raised. This is largely the result of the kinds

of historical sources that have so far informed the historiography on Nuremberg:

tribunal records, trial proceedings, official correspondence, personal papers, and

(published) memoirs of members of the Allied prosecution teams, along with the

German and international press. If at all, Jews figure as casualties in these records

but remain invisible as active subjects or participants. With no official Jewish

representation at the Nuremberg tribunal, the few individual Jewish witnesses who

appeared in court presented what Donald Bloxham called “a tale of Jewish


By contrast, Jewish sources from the immediate postwar years—such as the

Jewish press in Germany and beyond, along with archival records from Jewish

individuals and organizations present in occupied Germany—allow us to draw a

different picture. They suggest that the postwar Allied trials found widespread

interest among Jews in Europe, the Americas, and Palestine/Israel and even stood

at the center of public discourse in those communities. Despite their “invisibility” at

the Nuremberg tribunal, Jews undertook considerable efforts (some dating back into

the war years) to participate in the prosecution of the Nazi perpetrators. These

largely unexplored efforts and sources can help historians better comprehend the

roles Jews played in war-crime trials and how they assessed the representation of

their fate by the Allies, issues that are critical to the dynamics of Jewish

reconstruction in postwar Europe and the complexity of post-Holocaust justice. They

also add to our understanding of the multifaceted Jewish responses to the Holocaust

in its immediate aftermath, which have emerged as a rapidly growing international

research field over the past decade.10

This essay uses the contemporary impressions of some Jewish observers to

explore the roles and functions that Jews, Holocaust survivors or [End Page 110]

not, played in and around the first, iconic trial against the “major war criminals.” It

also analyzes the trial’s extensive press coverage in a major Yiddish-language

newspaper published by survivors—in this case, Jewish displaced persons

temporarily residing in the American zone of occupied Germany.

Jewish Presence and Absence at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg

During the war, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) had already begun a persistent

quest for direct and official Jewish participation in prosecuting Nazi war criminals.

Founded in August 1936 in Geneva as a voluntary representative body of Jewish

organizations and communities throughout the world, the congress understood itself

to represent the interests and needs of the Jewish collective in the Diaspora. Its

primary tasks included safeguarding Jewish rights; providing social aid, economic

relief, and educational and cultural work; assisting in Jewish migration; and

promoting Jewish unity.11 As news of German atrocities against the Jewish

populations in Nazi Germany and its conquered territories multiplied, the WJC

increasingly concerned itself with collecting information to serve as potential

evidence in future war-crime trials. For that purpose, in February 1941 it established

the Institute of Jewish Affairs, a New York–based research branch under the

auspices of Jacob Robinson. A Lithuanian-born international lawyer, Robinson had

escaped Lithuania in May 1940 and reached the United States in December of that

year via the Soviet Union, Romania, Yugoslavia, France, and Portugal.12 From

summer 1942—when the WJC had received irrefutable evidence that Nazi Germany

was using poison gas to systematically murder the Jews inside its orbit of

power—until the end of the war, the WJC lobbied various governments in exile in

London to call their attention to Germany’s crimes against these Jewish populations.

After the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) began its work in fall

1943 (one year after its formal establishment), the WJC sought futilely to gain a seat

in that American-led international body, whose role was to investigate allegations of

Axis war crimes against Allied nationals. As the WJC came to understand that Nazi

Germany was pursuing a systematic campaign against the entire Jewish population

of Europe, its lobbying efforts increasingly stressed the distinct nature of the crimes

committed against Jews and pushed to ensure that prosecutable “war crimes”

include actions committed before the outbreak of the war and against German and

other Axis nationals. [End Page 111] It also demanded that the WJC be allowed to

present the Jewish case before the commission and even become affiliated more

permanently with that body.13 Sir Cecil Hurst, the UNWCC’s chairman, encouraged

the congress to supply evidence of the crimes committed against the Jews of

Nazi-occupied countries to the governments that, as commission members, would

handle Jewish claims. He insisted, however, that expanding the concept of war

crimes was beyond the competence of the UNWCC—a government-constituted

body—and he undermined the WJC’s request for a hearing and possible affiliation

with the commission.14

Jewish “Friends of the Court”? The Question of Jewish


In November 1944, the WJC held its five-day War Emergency Conference in Atlantic

City, New Jersey, in which 269 delegates from 40 states participated. The meeting

passed a “Statement and Resolution on the Punishment of War Criminals,” which

addressed the governments of the United Nations. It was the product of several

months of intensive internal debates among various legal experts working for the

WJC in New York and London.15 The statement argued that the criminality of the

Axis powers lay in their unprecedented forms of warfare against targeted ethnic


The most monstrous of these crimes has had as its purpose the destruction of an

entire people: the Jews of Europe. This crime … was the result of a carefully

prepared and openly avowed policy. First in Germany and then in the successively

occupied territories, the Jews were systematically degraded, deprived of their

means of livelihood, segregated in overcrowded ghettos and camps, subjected to a

system of planned starvation and forced labor. The reduction of the Jewish

population as a result of the appalling losses which this policy assured did not

prove rapid enough to satisfy Nazi designs. The Nazis and their satellites therefore

resorted to the methods of wholesale deportation and mass murder.16

The eleven points resolved included four central demands: first, that future national

and international tribunals not only prosecute “war crimes” in the narrow

sense—here meaning the misuse of the rules of warfare against Allied nationals and

in Allied territory—but also consider Axis territory and prosecute “all forms of

persecution of racial, religious, and political minorities committed since January 30,

1933 in the course of and incidental or preparatory to the war by the enemy and their

satellites and collaborators”;17 second, that future war-crime tribunals include

representatives of the Jewish communities in the [End Page 112] investigation and

prosecution teams and that the WJC receive an official representation as amicus

curiae (friend of the court); third, that adequate attention be given to the Jewish case

both in safeguarding evidence and in the rigor with which those responsible be

extradited, indicted, and punished; and fourth, that crimes committed against Jewish

nationals of Germany or other Axis powers be brought before United Nations

tribunals rather than be left to the mercy of the courts of Germany and her allies. The

statement concluded with a cogent call:

If those who are guilty of monstrous crimes against the Jewish people are allowed

to escape punishment, it cannot but have the effect of encouraging adventurers in

the postwar world to use anti-Semitism as a means of obtaining power to destroy

democracy and to prepare the aggressive instruments for another World War.18

Six months later, in the summer of 1945, Jacob Robinson and other WJC

representatives established contact with Robert H. Jackson, U.S. chief of counsel for

the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, in hopes of furthering previous demands to

which the U.N. governments had not responded. In a 90-minute meeting with

Jackson on June 12, 1945, Robinson continued the previous line of argument while

also making new demands. Referring to Jews as a people rather than a religious

group, he argued that the Jews had suffered a crime sui generis—that of systematic

extermination—that was “the result of a well conceived, deliberately plotted and

meticulously carried out conspiracy.”19

Robinson’s use of the term conspiracy in addressing Jackson is striking. Although

the meeting took place before the Potsdam Conference (which laid out the principles

of the Allied postwar order in Germany and agreed on the joint prosecution of the

“major” war criminals) or the charter of the IMT and the completion of its indictment,

Robinson seems to have understood that the legal concept of conspiracy—the

agreement of two or more people to commit a criminal act—would likely play a

central role in the Anglo-American case against the Nazi war criminals.20 Describing

the Third Reich’s mass murder of European Jews as effectively a conspiracy was

therefore a conscious step in convincing Jackson that the American prosecution

would benefit from paying major attention to the fate of the Jews. But it also ft

Robinson’s own understanding of the Final Solution as a plot, a scheme, and an

ideologically motivated agreement among numerous individuals and Nazi agencies

to annihilate the Jews as a collective, which Nazi Germany had implemented

through systematic steps from Hitler’s rise to power until Germany’s unconditional

surrender.21 [End Page 113]

Robinson further argued that because Jews as a collective had suffered from the

Nazi conspiracy of systematic annihilation, they deserved to play a central role in the

prosecution of the perpetrators. What shape or form that role might take seems to

have been vague at this point, but Robinson suggested two possible scenarios. For

the first, he proposed a separate Jewish indictment:

The Jewish people is the greatest sufferer of this war, if not in the absolute number

of its casualties (the Soviet Union has a larger total), certainly in relative numbers

(the ratio of surviving Jews … to their pre-war total in some areas). It therefore has

a case of its own against the … Nazi war criminals.22

To further justify his demand, he argued:

The Nazis have not only exterminated two-thirds of European Jewry, but have

infested the continent with anti-Jewish feeling, that makes the life of Jews in

liberated Europe insecure. We believe that a specific indictment for the crime

committed against our people will clear the atmosphere in Europe and make it

easier for the survivors to reestablish themselves there.23

Such a Jewish indictment, in other words, was necessary for the rehabilitation of

survivors and the rebuilding of Jewish life in postwar Europe. Yet Robinson left open

what a “Jewish indictment” might mean. Did he envision a separate trial that focused

only on crimes against Jews? Did he wish to press Jackson to include third-party

prosecutors? Or did he perhaps even envision a separate count of “crimes against

the Jewish people”?

In Robinson’s second proposed scenario, a Jewish delegation with the status of

amicus curiae would ensure independent Jewish participation in the tribunal. At a

time when a sovereign Jewish state was still a far-fetched political goal, the WJC

would perform this task. As amicus curiae, rather than as a party to the case, the

WJC would lack the power to indict but would assist the court by providing relevant

information in the form of evidence or expert testimony. In sum, Robinson sought to

convince Jackson that “the Jewish survivors are entitled to have someone represent

them at the trials, as the spokesman of those who perished as well as of the living.

Such representation would bring to the fore more clearly the moral implications of

punishing the conspirators against an entire people.”24

Although either route to a separate Jewish case would have satisfied Robinson

and his colleagues, Jackson immediately rejected the idea: [End Page 114] there

would be one military trial, in which the Jewish indictment would have its place. He

feared that other—unspecified—victim groups might make similar demands, further

complicating the already-intricate task of bringing the central figures of the Nazi

regime to justice.25 But other factors certainly contributed to rendering Jewish

representation unviable in Jackson’s eyes: Robinson and his entourage represented

a nongovernmental organization claiming to be a quasi-diplomatic arm of a stateless

“Jewish collective” whose members disagreed whether that collectivity was

constituted by peoplehood, ethnicity, culture, or creed. Who could guarantee that the

WJC indeed spoke for all Jews in the world? Were other Jewish factions holding

conflicting views not likely to approach Jackson with separate demands?

An official Jewish delegation was a nonstarter; yet Jackson was willing to let

Chaim Weizmann, the 70-year-old head of the World Zionist Organization, appear

for the prosecution as an expert witness on crimes against Jews.26 In view of

Weizmann’s age, there was some hesitation on the Jewish side as to whether he

was the right candidate for this task, in which he was likely to undergo

cross-examination.27 Whereas Weizmann himself had misgivings because he would

have to read a previously approved statement of 15,000 words, the British opposed

the idea out of concern that Weizmann would use his platform to promote Zionist

claims to statehood, thus shedding negative light on Britain’s Palestine policies.28

Eventually, the tribunal had no amici curiae and neither the WJC nor any other

Jewish group received official status at Nuremberg.

Ironically, although the WJC failed to get permission to send an official Jewish

delegation to the IMT, it made an impact behind the scenes during preparations for

the trial. Between June and December 1945, Robinson and his colleagues at the

Institute of Jewish Affairs in New York closely collaborated with the American

prosecution team, both helping to draft those passages in the indictment relating to

Jews and supplying documentation on the toll suffered by Jews under the Nazis.29

For example, the number of 5.7 million Jewish victims mentioned in Jackson’s

powerful opening speech of November 21, 1945, was based on statistics assembled

by the Institute of Jewish Affairs.30 Moreover, Jackson adopted the idea that the

Nazis had indeed deliberately planned the “destruction of the Jewish people as a

whole, as an end in itself,”31 which the WJC had publicly expressed as early as

November 1944. During a 10-day stay in Nuremberg during the first two weeks of

the trial in late November 1945, Robinson assisted Major William F. Walsh, assistant

trial counsel for the United States, in preparing Walsh’s mid-December presentation

of evidence [End Page 115] on the persecution of the Jews under counts 1 and 4 of

the indictment. In his two-session-long brief presented December 13 and 14, 1945,

Walsh apparently followed Robinson’s advice in linking the pre-1939 Nazi atrocities

against the Jews of Germany to the Reich’s preparations for war, thereby turning the

court’s attention to crimes that otherwise would not have been considered under the

narrow reading of crimes against humanity.32 This category, which according to

article 6 (c) of the IMT charter of August 1945 included “murder, extermination,

enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian

population before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious

grounds,” was a novelty in international law created for the purpose of holding a

sovereign government legally responsible for mistreating and murdering its own

civilians even if domestic law did not criminalize those acts. Yet fearing the

revolutionary potential of this new legal category—which by disputing the principle of

state sovereignty could have repercussions for the Allied nations themselves—the

Nuremberg tribunal restricted its application by linking it to the other three counts of

the indictment. To be considered crimes against humanity, actions had to be

connected to crimes against peace, war crimes, and the conspiracy to wage a war of

aggression, thus reducing the Final Solution to a subset of other Nazi

transgressions.33 Ultimately, Walsh’s strategy failed to affect the final verdict, as the

court declared that these prewar atrocities had not qualified as crimes against

humanity within the meaning of the charter.34

Back in New York at the beginning of December, in a closed-door meeting of the

WJC, Robinson made contradictory statements regarding the success of his

mission. He was dissatisfied by the tribunal’s treatment of the Jewish tragedy in the

context of other crimes rather than as a separate

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