Crimes of the Holocaust

Crimes of the Holocaust: The Law Confronts Hard Cases

Stephan Landsman
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Crimes of the Holocaust
    Book Description:

    The problem of prosecuting individuals complicit in the Nazi regime's "Final Solution" is almost insurmountably complex and has produced ever less satisfying results as time has passed. In Crimes of the Holocaust, Stephan Landsman provides detailed analysis of the International Military Tribunal prosecution at Nuremberg in 1945, the Eichmann trial in Israel in 1961, the 1986 Demanjuk trial in Israel, and the 1990 prosecution of Imre Finta in Canada. Landsman presents each case and elaborates the difficulties inherent in achieving both a fair trial and a measure of justice in the aftermath of heinous crimes. In the face of few historical and legal precedents for such war crime prosecutions, each legal action relies on the framework of its predecessors. However, this only compounds the problematic issues arising from the Nuremberg proceedings. Meticulously combing volumes of testimony and documentary information about each case, Landsman offers judicious and critical assessments of the proceedings. He levels pointed criticism at numerous elements of this relatively recent judicial invention, sparing neither judges nor counsel and remaining keenly aware of the human implications. Deftly weaving legal analysis with cultural context, Landsman offers the first rigorous examination of these problematic proceedings and proposes guideposts for contemporary tribunals. Crimes of the Holocaust is an authoritative account of the Gordian knot of genocide prosecution in the world courts, which will persist as a confounding issue as we are faced with a trial of Saddam Hussein. This volume will be compelling reading for legal scholars as well as laypersons interested in these cases and the issues they address.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0257-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xii)

    In the face of the horrors of the Second World War, the international community struggled to come to grips with a radically new crime: genocide—the deliberate attempt to exterminate an entire people. This book traces the world’s halting development of a courtroom response to the Nazis’ effort to destroy all of Europe’s Jews in what has come to be referred to as the Holocaust. It analyzes the strengths and limitations of four of the most prominent proceedings conducted against alleged Nazi criminals using the tools of the Anglo-American legal tradition, and considers their significance for contemporary national and international...

  4. Chapter 1 Nuremberg
    (pp. 1-55)

    The prosecution of Nazi war crimes and crimes against humanity conducted at Nuremberg, Germany, in 1945–46 was unprecedented, both in the magnitude of the crimes it sought to address and in the international nature of the tribunal, the scope of its investigation, and the open character of the proceedings. Although crucial aspects of procedure were worked out during the trial, the shape of the tribunal, its charges and defendants, and the adversarial approach it adopted were outlined in advance by the victorious Allied powers.

    The road to Nuremberg began when the Allied nations rejected arguments for the summary execution...

  5. Chapter 2 Eichmann
    (pp. 56-109)

    On May 23, 1960, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion appeared before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, and announced: “It is my duty to inform you that a short time ago the security services apprehended one of the most infamous Nazi criminals, Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible, together with the Nazi leadership, for what they called ‘the “Final Solution” to the Jewish problem’—in other words, the extermination of six million of Europe’s Jews. Adolf Eichmann is already imprisoned in this country, and will soon be brought to trial in Israel under the Nazi and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law of 1950.”¹ Adolf...

  6. Chapter 3 John Demjanjuk and Ivan the Terrible
    (pp. 110-172)

    In 1986, a quarter-century after the Eichmann trial, Israel once again undertook the prosecution of a Holocaust perpetrator: John Demjanjuk, whom some survivors of Treblinka identified as “Ivan the Terrible.” Ivan the Terrible was not, like Eichmann, a bureaucrat involved in planning the “Final Solution.” Ivan the Terrible had earned his name by operating the gas chambers, herding hapless victims into the killing rooms, and demonstrating gratuitous sadism toward camp inmates on other occasions. Trying a perpetrator who had been personally, directly, and immediately involved in extermination-camp operations became, for the State of Israel, a way to honor Holocaust survivors,...

  7. Chapter 4 lmre Finta
    (pp. 173-239)

    In 1987, Canada passed a law enabling the government to prosecute persons charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed beyond Canadian borders. The first trial under the new law was that of Imre Finta, a Hungarian who, as a member of the gendarmerie, had participated in the 1944 concentration and deportation of the Jewish residents of Szeged, Hungary, to the death camp at Auschwitz and the slavelabor camp at Strasshof. Like Demjanjuk, Finta had been a lower-level functionary who helped to carry out the “Final Solution” in an occupied country. In contrast to the Demjanjuk case, however, Finta...

  8. Chapter 5 Prospects for the Prosecution of Genocide Perpetrators
    (pp. 240-274)

    Are disasters like Demjanjuk and Finta idiosyncratic, or do they suggest more widespread and fundamental flaws in Nuremberg-style prosecutions of heinous crimes? Ever since Nuremberg, the world has generally accepted the legitimacy of prosecuting those who commit such crimes. The proceedings at Nuremberg and in Eichmann shared some important qualities: the cases focused on high-profile defendants, much of the evidence was amassed shortly after the crimes, and a plethora of documents was corroborated by the testimony of eyewitnesses. Above, all, these grand, two-track cases were conducted by jurists whose scrupulous fairness and intellectual rigor compensated for the looseness of evidence...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 275-294)
  10. Index
    (pp. 295-304)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 305-305)