Nurembleg

Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas by Otto Dix. Image from Wikipedia.

Stormtroops Advancing Under Gas by Otto Dix. Image from Wikipedia.

I’m looking for a good book about the Nuremberg Trials, preferably the definitive one, a thick volume that all the professional historians or attorneys would recommend; and preferably one that includes the medical trials. I’m more concerned with the extent of what actually happened and what the alleged perpetrators of the Nazi atrocities did than with any sort of psychological profiles or moral editorializing.

So far a search of Amazon has turned up these promising tomes:

1. Robert Conot’s Justice at Nuremberg

2. Telford Taylor’s Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials

3. Ann and John Tusa’s The Nuremberg Trial

All are highly rated and seem to have what I’m looking for. Has anyone read them? Is there another book that I should consider?

Also, on an unrelated note, has anyone read Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut?

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23 thoughts on “Nurembleg

  1. I have no idea in terms of titles, but I wonder if your primary interest is in the acts themselves – precisely what the Nazi reich actually did in the war and in Europe generally that was eventually prosecuted (or that wasn’t) – why you’re approaching that through the trials. The major books on the trials I imagine will be laden with all kinds of background on international legal institutions, law, the lawyers, etc., etc., etc., that will be extraneous if your interest is only in the criminal acts themselves – their actual corporeal reality (rather than their illegality or even the process of proving it).

    But if you’re looking to read the definitive book on the trials, then that’s what you’re looking to do, and I’ll question it no further. Sorry, I wish I knew off the top of my head what it is.

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    • I think in particular why I’m interested in the Nuremberg Trial is that I’d also like to see how the Allies conducted themselves and what they felt were the crimes against humanity that should be called to special attention. Also, I’m interested in the experience of the actual people and the atrocities that occurred at ground level. Most accounts of WWII I’ve come across seem to place importance in the political or military processes surrounding the conflict. I’m also mystified by the Nuremberg trials as attempt at manifestation of order onto chaos.

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      • Incidentally, I’m still immersed (as immersed as I get, anyway) in WWI and the period around it off of a suggestion made here by Mr. (Esq.) here something like six years ago. I feel like I’m just now kind of getting my head around some of the the big-picture basics.

        I wish I had as a good a framework of personal interest for it, though, as you do here, Christopher. The best I have is the End of Empires concept (I’m more interested in that to the extent it’s really End of Certain Societies), and also The War’s place in another larger idea I’ve had since I came to understand I was interested in the (longish) period of the turn of those two centuries more than any other period. That’s that it was a uniquely important pivot point in human (well, Western) history: a time when a certain millennia-old way of seeing the world came to an end, and was supplanted by a new way of seeing things. The time when what still today remains The Modern worldview came about and became the prevailing cast of mind. (I still don’t really know what role the war played in all that, however. To the extent it was a real shift at all, it was certainly already well underway by 1914.)

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        • Have you read the Regeneration trilogyr? If not, it might give you an interesting framework for approaching the War to End All Wars.

          I’ve been obsessed for my entire adult life, and while there are many fascinating historical angles — the conflict’s inevitability perhaps by the time Napoleon fell, the way old world thinking and new world technology collided to set its course in the West, the world historical profoundness of events in the East, Africa, and Middle East, such that in many ways we are still living in the world that war created, and so on — the one that I cannot escape, and which therefore always brings me back to that war, is the human. How did people stand it? How did it change them? How did it change us all?

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      • If you are looking for more detailed histories of the atrocities that happened on the ground, you may have difficulty finding one all encompassing book. The Trials may be a good start, but the stories of people’s experiences tend to be told in memoir form or in books that focus on one region/group/person.

        I have taught History of the Holocaust (at the high school level) and have read up on it more than most, so I would be happy to provide some titles that give a more personalized, on the ground perspective.

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  2. If you want one that focuses on the crimes and the criminals, Conot’s is good I believe. I read it in college, which was in the last century, but I remember it being worth the time.

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    • I looked at that one. It seemed like more of a novelization with lots of personal editorializing, Did you find that to be the case? I just read a few of the Amazon reviews, and it seems now like it’s quite well-liked.

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  3. Milton Mayer’s THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE FREE. Not specifically about Nuremberg or the Holocaust, but what ordinary Germans experienced over the course of the 3rd Reich. Background reading.

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    • Thanks, I had been looking for a book that describes what the civilian population was thinking during the war. When I search for such a book I usually end up at “Ordinary Men” but that is more civilians-turned-military.

      Do the Friedlander books deal with the civilian angle?

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  4. Try Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder. It’s a look at politically motivated mass killings primarily in the areas divided by then disputed between Nazi Germany and the USSR. It also provides a much better understanding of the Holocaust than most accounts of individual survivors by putting it back into the greater context of the eastern European theater. If you’re coming to this from Leningrad then it is a must read.

    One thing I will caution is that it may complicate your view of the conflict in certain respects, including regarding the moral superiority of the victors (to clarify it is not at all in a manner that could ever be pro Nazi).

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    • Otto Dix’s artwork was banned by the Nazis because it did not glorify war. I thought it was an appropriate choice.

      You’ll notice that I usually select a classic work of art to accompany my posts and thereby inject additional meaning.

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