Treasures of the Harvard Law School Library | The Nuremberg Trial Documents

Treasures of the Harvard Law School Library | The Nuremberg Trial Documents

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ROBERT H. JACKSON: The wrongs
which we seek to condemn and punish have been so
calculated, so malignant, and so devastating that
civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored. MARTHA MINOW: The 20th century
will be remembered, sadly, for mass atrocities, but
perhaps even more significant is the 20th century pioneered
the use of law as a response to mass violence. And the Nuremberg trials
are the critical landmark in this effort to bring
to bear the rule of law and individualized justice
instead of vengeance or new rounds of war. ROBERT H. JACKSON: There is no
count in the indictment that cannot be proved by books and records. PAUL DESCHNER: The Nuremberg
trial documents basically consists of the
documentary record that was created during the
prosecution of the Nuremberg trials themselves, which
were 13 trials that were held immediately after
the conclusion of World War II to prosecute Germans who had
acted as major decision makers during the Nazi regime. So this is some sort of
implementation program for military
materials [INAUDIBLE].. STEPHEN CHAPMAN: There are
hundreds of boxes containing evidentiary materials. So some of those might have
been formally submitted as exhibits to the
trials, but now it’s this wonderful historical
record of divisions and how things were organized
during the Nazi regime. EDWIN MOLOY: It didn’t
come in one large donation. There were multiple sources. I think the main connection
is graduates of the law school who served in one function or
another for the prosecution. TELFORD TAYLOR: And I refer also
to Hitler’s well-known order of 13 May 1941, which restricted
the use of courts martial. MARTHA MINOW: So one
of our graduates, Telford Taylor, organized
the prosecutorial team. And that may be one reason why
so many people from Harvard played critical roles
in the Nuremberg trials. DREXEL SPRECHER: Goebbels
informed [INAUDIBLE] of his decision to place
the wireless news service within the propaganda ministry. MARTHA MINOW: So
for this school, it is particularly meaningful
that we have this collection and we can make it
available to the world. STEPHEN CHAPMAN: As we
go through these boxes, this is giving us a sense
of what it’s going to be required to prep [INAUDIBLE]. KERRI FLEMMING: The
Nuremberg documents had been sitting in boxes
in storage for many years. The paper has turned very
brittle over the decades. STEPHEN CHAPMAN:
Essentially, it’s a project both to preserve and
to make this unique collection more broadly accessible. First arranging the
material, then scanning it, and then doing what we refer
to as document analysis. PAUL DESCHNER: Roughly
300 to 400 people every day have been accessing
our website, whether it has to do with legal questions,
sociological questions, historical questions. You can follow the narrative
of how the documents were introduced into the
trial by reading a transcript that
we’ve also put online as part of the collection. So you have a full discovery
experience with the archive, and you can access it from
virtually anywhere a computer is available to access it. STEPHEN CHAPMAN: It’s a treasure
in its comprehensiveness, first and foremost because of
the importance of the trial, second because of the breadth
and scope of the material that we have. MARTHA MINOW: To encounter
these materials is to see the worst
that human beings can do to other human beings. And yet it’s also to encounter
the best that human beings can do, in terms of holding
individuals responsible and setting standards and
norms for human conduct for the future.

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