Between Nov. 20, 1945 and Oct. 1, 1946, the Allied forces held military tribunals in the German city of Nuremberg to prosecute Nazi officials for war crimes committed during World War II. This fall, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Richard Salter ’86, P’15 and the four student leaders of the HWS Genocide and Human Rights Symposium will travel to Nuremberg to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the trials’ conclusion and participate in a series of dialogues with judges, prosecutors and scholars involved in contemporary international war crimes trial proceedings.
“The Nuremberg Trials stand as a landmark event in the march for justice against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” says Salter. “They marked a start of a new way of thinking about international law, and their influence remains with us today in everything from the various International Criminal Court cases, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and Special War Crimes Tribunals. It is an honor to be able to attend the 70th anniversary of the trials and share the experience with a remarkable group of HWS students.”
In Nuremberg, Salter and Soren Anders-Macleod ’18, Ryan Montbleau ’19, Elleanor Smith ’18 and Sarah Walters ’19 will attend the 10th International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, organized by the Robert H. Jackson Center, which is named for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief U.S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg. Held at the Courthouse and the Documentation Centre on Sept. 29 and 30, the dialogues will examine the Nuremberg tribunal in light of the theme “A Lasting Legacy for the Future.”
“This is not only a unique opportunity to step back into history, to be in Courtroom 600 where the trials took place, but also to hear from people who are working on this issue in international courtrooms today, prosecuting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” says Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski, who plans to visit the city later this year.
Funding for the trip is sponsored by Dr. Edward P. Franks ’72, who is also the benefactor of the Human Rights and Genocide Symposium at HWS.
“Dr. Franks has given a tremendous gift to the Colleges with his funding,” says Salter, “and consequently a full generation of students have been able to learn about the life annihilating processes of genocide and the steps that can and have been taken to stop it. Many past student participants continue to this day with careers in human rights and justice.”
Dobkowski agrees. “Thanks to Dr. Franks’ unbelievable generosity, I know the students will benefit greatly and be able to report back to campus, to stimulate interest and keep these issues active in our community here.”
In May, Montbleau, Smith and Walters participated in “The March: Bearing Witness to Hope,” a leadership program and remembrance journey led by Holocaust survivors and scholars in Germany and Poland. Anders-Macleod was part of a seminar Dobkowski and Salter facilitated in the fall of 2015 that hosted Father Patrick Desbois, a Roman Catholic priest and consultant to the Vatican who founded Yahad-In Unum, a global humanitarian organization dedicated to identifying and commemorating the sites of mass executions in Eastern Europe and Guatemala.
In the photo above, Sarah Walters ’19, Ryan Montbleau ’19, Elleanor Smith ’18 and Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski meet prior to the students’ departure for Nuremberg, Germany and events surrounding the 70th anniversary of the war crimes trials.