Last year, on May 4, 2016, The March of the Living,
The Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and Jagiellonian University Presented
An International Legal Symposium Commemorating
The Nuremberg Race Laws & Nuremberg Trials
This historic legal symposium took place on the occasion of the
80th anniversary of the Nuremberg Race Laws
and the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials.
May 4, 2016 • Jagiellonian University • Krakow, Poland
The anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws were originally passed in 1935, at a special Reichstag session held in Nuremberg, Germany, which was also the site of some of the Nazi Party’s annual propaganda rallies. The Nuremberg Laws were fully and consistently implemented in Nazi Germany after the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. The laws, among others, removed citizenship from Germany’s Jewish population (based on Nazi invented racial criteria), restricted the employment of “Aryan” Germans in Jewish households and forbade sexual relations between Germans and Jews. These laws were enacted along with a host of other discriminatory, anti-Semitic measures. While no one imagined the horrors that were to follow, these laws were the foundation for the increasing persecution of Germany’s Jewish population that would eventually encompass all of Europe and result in the murder of 6 million Jews.
The Nuremberg Trials were undertaken by the Allies during 1945-1946 (the IMT- the International Military Tribunal) and then by the United States during 1946-1949 (the NMTs - Nuremberg Military Tribunals). The defendants were former Nazi German leaders who were involved in waging of aggressive war, committing war crimes, and committing crimes against humanity.
Described as “the greatest trial in history,” the international Nuremberg Trial, the Allied-led IMT, saw 21 of the most important political and military leaders of the Third Reich pros- ecuted. The defendants included such infamous Nazis as Hermann Göring, Hans Frank, , Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer and Julius Streicher.
The second set of trials - twelve in all - were the American-led Nuremberg Military Tribunals, which included the Doctors’ Trial, the Judges’ Trial, and the High Command Trial, and saw the prosecution of close to 200 formerly high-ranking German of cials and business leaders.
Although many culpable persons were never brought to justice at Nuremberg or elsewhere, the Nuremberg Trials adjudicated many of the most culpable and developed the evidence that allows history to understand the scope of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust. Nuremberg also gave rise to important principles, including that the claim of “just following orders” is not acceptable as a defense in criminal cases.
In 1950, a United Nations committee codi ed Nuremberg Principles that are, alongside the records and precedents of the Nuremberg trial judgments themselves, important components of international law today.
The gathering discussed the following themes:
1. The Double Entendre of Nuremberg: The Nuremberg of Hate & The Nuremberg of Justice
2. The History of the Nuremberg Trials
3. The Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights: Universal Lessons for the Preventing and Combating of Mass Atrocity in Our Time
4. The Aftermath of the Holocaust in Europe
5. Justice After Nuremberg: What Have We Learned?
6. Holocaust Remembrance, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Inversion
7. History, Accountability & Responsibility
8. Poland and Holocaust Legacy: “The Legacy of Jan Karski”
9. The Nuremberg Proclamation: “Never Again” Declaration
Full Nuremberg Symposium Agenda (click to view and download)
Professor Irwin Cotler is a celebrated human rights advocate, former Canadian Justice Minister, and Parliamentarian and internationally recognized expert in human rights law.
Professor Alan Dershowitz, former professor of law at Harvard University, is a prominent American lawyer, jurist, author, political commentator and leading defender of civil liberties.
They will be joined by Ministers of Justice, Supreme Court Judges, ministers of law, judges, leading international human rights experts and attorneys, Holocaust survivors, graduate students and others.
MESSAGE FROM THE 2016 SYMPOSIUM CO-CHAIRS
““In 2016, let us commemorate two anniversaries – the Double Entendre of Nuremberg – the Nuremberg of Jackboots and Hate, and the Nuremberg of Judgements and Principles. May this be not only an act of remembrance for the victims of racism and antisemitism – and of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened; but may this also be a remembrance to act – so that we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other’s destiny.
This is what the struggle for human rights and human dignity – and anti-racism and anti-hate – is all about.”
Professor Irwin Cotler,
“The word Nuremberg conjures up two opposite images of law, one negative, the other positive. The Nuremberg Laws represent the most extreme distortion of law-- misusing the forms of justice to produce grave injustice. The Nuremberg Trials represent a triumph of Justice over injustice. Rights come from a recognition of wrongs. The Nuremberg laws represent the wrongs, and the Nuremberg trials reflect the rights that grew of the acknowledgment of those terrible wrongs.”
Professor Alan Dershowitz,