On August 5, 1941, in a radio broadcast following a three-day meeting at sea with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill, referred to the atrocities perpetrated by Nazi Germany in its military campaign against the Soviet Union as "a crime without a name." This was almost six months before the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" became the official policy of the Third Reich. Four years later, on August 8, 1945, in London , the United States , Great Britain , the Soviet Union and France undertook to try certain "major war criminals" for crimes against peace, war crimes, and - a new cause of action - crimes against humanity. Since then, crimes against humanity generally, and genocide specifically, have become codified in international law, and made the basis of precedent shattering tribunals.
In this course, we will begin by examining the historical, philosophical and political origins of statutes that outlaw crimes against humanity and genocide. We will then focus on the first post-World War II trial of the SS personnel at the Nazi concentration camps of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, followed by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (the "IMT"); the Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem; the trial in Tel Aviv of the head of the Jewish police of a Polish ghetto; proceedings before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (the "ICTY"), and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (the "ICTY"). We will also examine and discuss the origins and impact of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and consider the development of the law relating to genocide and crimes against humanity over the course of the past 70 years and its contemporary implications.
We will also have a screening of the 1976 documentary, The Memory of Justice, which will enable us to consider the state of the law of genocide and related crimes against humanity in its respective legal, social and political contexts 30 years after the end of World War II.
In the course of the semester, we will pay special attention to some of the cases involving charges of incitement to genocide on the part of newspapers and radio broadcasters, and comparing and contrasting them with the proceedings against Julius Streicher and Hans Fritzsche at Nuremberg. We will also examine the evolving law on rape and sexual violence as elements in the perpetration of genocide and crimes against humanity.
A research paper will constitute the principal component of the course evaluation. Class participation will also be taken into account, as well as a short oral presentation on a defendant in a crimes against humanity or genocide trial to be given in in class.
To facilitate discussion, it would be helpful (although not required) if students are generally familiar with the proceedings of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg . Several books about this trial will be placed on reserve in the library.
The goal of the course is to provide the students with a broad awareness of the jurisprudential, historical, political, and social dimensions that underlie the ongoing efforts to criminalize and prosecute ethnically, religiously or racially motivated mass murder and related atrocities, as well as the difficulties inherent in such proceedings.