WSW: Genocide, War Crimes and Seeking Justice

Apr 13, 2016

Chief American Prosecutor Robert Jackson addresses the court at Nuremberg
Credit Raymond D'Addario, Wikimedia Commons

70 years after the Nuremberg Trials are war crimes tribunals still the best response to genocide and war time atrocities? 

Kalamazoo College is presenting a workshop called Seventy Years After Nuremberg: Genocide and Human Rights in Comparative Perspective. It begins Thursday April 14th and runs through Saturday the 16th. Scholars from K-College and colleges and universities around the world will participate in the conference. 

David Barclay
Credit Courtesy of Kalamazoo College

The organizer, Kalamazoo College History Professor David Barclay, says participants will discuss genocide that happened before and after World War II and the Nuremberg Trials. Barclay says that will include a discussion of how international law is applied to war crimes.

While mass killing happened before World War II, the word genocide was not coined until 1942. Barclay says that has raised questions about whether you can refer to something that happened earlier in history as “genocide” if the word didn’t exist. Barclay says “I find that a rather dubious question.” 

Germany and German history is Barclay’s area of expertise. He says the Holocaust and the war crimes trials at Nuremberg still resonate in Germany, and influence debate on major issues. Barclay says German views of the war crimes tribunals largely break down along generational lines. He says younger Germans are more likely to view the Nuremberg trials as a just and fair way to determine justice after atrocities.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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