Revisiting the Nuremberg Trial 75 Years Later: A Roundtable Discussion

Endorsed by the Society for Military History

Saturday, April 4, 2020, 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: International Relations; Legal and Constitutional; Politics


This roundtable highlights emerging scholarship on the Nuremberg war crimes trial and its significance 75 years after its creation. Topics will include the relationship between the trial and the development of human rights and international law, including the law’s ability to respond to the worst atrocities; the U.S. chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson; the architect of the Genocide Convention, Raphael Lemkin; the Soviet Union’s often-overlooked role before, during, and after the proceedings; and Nuremberg’s relevance to our present world.

Session Participants

Chair: Joseph Andrew Ross, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Joseph A. Ross is a Teaching Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Peace, War, and Defense curriculum. For more than twelve years, he has taught widely on the history of the Holocaust and genocide, war crimes trials, international law, human rights, and American foreign relations.

Ross’s current project is an intellectual and legal history that traces the evolution of human rights concepts by focusing on American participants who were at the center of the Nuremberg Trial—Robert Jackson, Francis Biddle, and John Parker. It addresses questions such as: What impact did the Nuremberg Trial have on international human rights law in the postwar period? How did Jackson, Biddle, and Parker understand human rights, national sovereignty, international law, and international engagement before the Trial? Did their views change as a result of their Nuremberg experiences? What challenges, if any, did they face in upholding human rights when they returned home?

Ross received his undergraduate degree in history and philosophy from Western Carolina University, and his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has received support for his research from the Harry S. Truman Library Institute.

Panelist: John Q. Barrett, St. John's University
John Q. Barrett is Professor of Law at St. John’s University in New York City, where he teaches constitutional law, criminal procedure, and legal history. He also is Elizabeth S. Lenna Fellow and a Board member at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York.

Professor Barrett, a renowned teacher, writer, public commentator, and lecturer, in the U.S. and internationally, is writing the biography of Robert H. Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg chief prosecutor.

Professor Barrett discovered and edited Justice Jackson's now-acclaimed memoir THAT MAN: AN INSIDER'S PORTRAIT OF FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, which is both F.D.R. biography and Jackson autobiography.

Professor Barrett also is author of numerous articles and chapters, including on Jackson and Nuremberg, and his “Jackson List” emails——reach well over 100,000 readers around the world.

John Q. Barrett is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School. Before beginning his teaching career, he was a law clerk to U.S. Circuit Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. (3d Cir.), Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh (Iran/Contra), and Counselor to U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich.

Panelist: Elizabeth K. Borgwardt, Washington University in St Louis
Elizabeth Borgwardt specializes in the history of international law with a focus on human rights ideas and institutions. As associate professor of History at Washington University in St Louis, she also holds a courtesy appointment in Law.

Her award-winning book, A New Deal for the World: America’s Vision for Human Rights, was published by the Belknap imprint of Harvard University Press and is in its fourth printing. New Deal for the World has been recognized as the Best Book in the History of Ideas by the Organization of American Historians for 2006. It was also recognized with an award for the Best First Book in U.S. Foreign Relations by the Society for the History of US Foreign Relations (SHAFR) and the History Honor Society’s award for Best First Book on any history topic. As a dissertation it garnered the Stanford History Department’s Best Dissertation award.

In addition to her Stanford doctorate, Borgwardt has earned a JD from Harvard Law School and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University (UK). She has clerked on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is a member of the California Bar. As an attorney and dispute resolution consultant she was a co-author of the New York Times Business Bestseller Beyond Machiavelli: Tools for Coping with Conflict (Harvard University Press).

She has held fellowships with Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, NYU, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as a Fulbright Professorship with the University of Heidelberg, where she remains a permanent faculty affiliate. She also recently served as the Richard and Ann Pozen Visiting Professor of Human Rights at the University of Chicago. The recipient of eight teaching awards, her current projects include an edited collection of her essays forthcoming from Penn Press; an edited volume on Rethinking Grand Strategy (Oxford, forthcoming), and Thinking Humanity, her manuscript on the Nuremberg trials in history, law, and politics, under contract with Alfred A. Knopf.

Panelist: Lawrence R. Douglas, Amherst College
Lawrence Douglas teaches at Amherst College, where he is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. A graduate of Brown and Yale Law School, Professor Douglas is the author of six books, including the widely acclaimed The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust (Yale, 2001) and The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial (Princeton, 2016), a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.”

In addition, Douglas has published two novels, The Catastrophist (2007), a Kirkus “Best Books of the Year,” and The Vices (2011), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Prize. He has co-edited fifteen books on contemporary legal issues, and is presently co-editing The Oxford Handbook on Transitional Justice. His commentary and essays have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. He is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian, where he writes on legal issues involving the executive branch.

The recipient of major fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Institute for International Education, and, most recently, the Carnegie Foundation, Douglas has lectured in more than a dozen countries and has served as a visiting professor at the University of London and at Humboldt Universität, Berlin.

Panelist: Hilary Earl, Nipissing University
Hilary Earl is Professor of European History and Genocide Studies at Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada. A member of the International Association of Genocide Studies (IAGS) since 2004, she has served in a variety of capacities including as co-chair of the 2008 conference, and most recently as editor for Genocide Studies and Prevention. She now serves on the Advisory Board. Her research and teaching interests include war crimes and perpetrator trials, perpetrator testimony and behaviour, and the cultural impact of the Holocaust and genocide in the twenty-first century. She is the author of the award winning, Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History. She co-edited with Karl Schleunes Lessons and Legacies XI: Expanding Perspectives on the Holocaust in a Changing World (2014) and is also co-editing with Simone Gigliotti the Wiley Companion to the Holocaust expected out in 2019. Currently she is working on a project tentatively titled “Horror Stories,” which examines facets of Einsatzgruppen atrocities on the eastern front.

Panelist: Francine Hirsch, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on Soviet and Modern European history. She has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Hoover Institution, Harvard University's Davis Center, the Social Science Research Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation. Her first book, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (Cornell UP, 2005), received several prizes including the prestigious Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association "for a distinguished book by an American author in any field of European history." Her book Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.