“[Atrocities on Trial] leads to counter-intuitive and otherwise surprising conclusions in several areas which make it a significant contribution to the existing literature. ... Well-written ... balancing a lively if depressing story with a first-rate intellectual analysis [and] first-tier scholarship.”
— Michael Livingston, professor at Rutgers School of Law–Camden
“In war-crimes trials, the players can aim for individualized justice or historical lessons, but not both. But individualized justice has one forum: a trial. Historical lessons emerge best from the kind of stimulating explorations that fill this volume. It is an edited volume at its best:...essays that complement each other, reflect off each other, and also create friction, setting off sparks that are constantly illuminating.”
— Douglas G. Morris, New York Law Journal
Since the Nuremberg trials following World War II, there has been considerable debate about the nature and effects of war crimes with regard both to the Nazis and to modern-day perpetrators. What constitutes a “war crime,” and how has the concept changed over time? How do victors and vanquished deal with crimes that have universal as well as national dimensions? How is the historical reality of war crimes related to their judicial treatment? How are perpetrators portrayed during investigations and trials?
These timely and provocative essays make use of newly available archival sources and a wide range of case studies to provide in-depth analyses of war crimes within a broad historical framework. The essays are organized into four sections: the history of war-crime trials from Weimar Germany to just after World War II; the sometimes diverging Allied efforts to come to terms with the Nazi concentration camp system; the ability of postwar society to confront war crimes of the past; and the legacy of war-crime trials in the twenty-first century. Atrocities on Trial illuminates a dark and timely subject and helps us to understand the ongoing struggle to hold accountable those who perpetrate crimes against humanity.
“[Although] thousands of trials dealt with the legacy of Nazi criminality, the vast majority…have warranted little comment by scholars. This is an oversight that [the volume editors] seek to correct….An impressive group of historians…; a strong collection of essays. The quality of the writing throughout is very high, which makes for pleasurable reading, and recommends the volume for courses. Several of the essays are impressive pieces of original scholarship,….scrupulously researched…; other chapters… instead provide useful overviews to the student or scholar eager to gain a quick introduction to the subject.”
— Lawrence Douglas, Central European History
Patricia Heberer is a historian with the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is the museum’s in-house specialist on medical crimes and eugenics policies in Nazi Germany.
Jürgen Matthäus is the director for applied research at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is the coeditor of Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust and a contributor to Christopher R. Browning’s The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939–March 1942 (Nebraska 2004).
Contributors include: Donald Bloxham, Jonathan Friedman, Richard J. Golsan, Patricia Heberer, Michael R. Marrus, Jürgen Matthäus, John K. Roth, Ulf Schmidt, Rebecca Wittmann, and Lisa Yavnai.