Threaded through the renewed hope for the future demonstrated by the recovery of France and preparations for the upcoming trials in Germany, Dodd reflected on October 2 that “I sometimes feel depressed about the future. Many well-informed people over here say another war is inevitable–already we are laying the foundation for it.” [p. 154, 10/2/1945]. Observations of the actions and attitudes of his colleagues on the other prosecution teams did not bode well but Dodd resolved “to stand openly and firmly against this menace.” [p. 155, 10/2/1945]
Meetings, desk work, interrogations, staff changes, lunches, dinners and the occasional evening entertainment filled the time as the days passed and became “ordinary.” Continue reading
On September 25th, Dodd had a breakthrough in his questioning of Dr. Scheidt. Scheidt had been questioned repeatedly about the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) files, insisting each time that he burned them all. Dodd’s relentless interrogation paid off when he was able to make Scheidt admit,” All right, I buried some of the most important ones at Berchtesgarden” [p.142, 9/25/1945]. The admission was significant. The existence of even a portion of the files was of unimaginable value and had the potential to be a huge break for the prosecution. Despite his many contributions similar to the one with Scheidt, Dodd saw himself pushed to the side as the staff expanded. As of 24 September 1945, the United States legal team had grown to approximately 250 people and according to Dodd 150 of those were “superfluous and worse” [p. 141, 9/24/45]. As he explained to Grace,” I am no one’s fair-haired boy, I am not in the military, and it is a mess anyway” [p. 142, 9/25/1945]. At this point, it seemed as if Colonel Brundage and Dodd were the only ones making advances on any of the interrogations, and yet two felt that others shared information only grudgingly, if at all. Continue reading
The growing staff of the International Military Tribunal was preparing to prosecute individuals held responsible for some of the most horrific, gruesome, and bloodcurdling actions during WWII. The environment of the court was becoming increasingly intense and professional with the lives of many on trial for those actions. Many of the military men, as well as those investigating and working for the prosecution teams, took the time to create or balance the daily exposure to chilling facts of the Nazi regime with more pleasant activities during their time in Germany.
Dinner parties, traveling, or attending performances at the opera house became regular occurrences as the staff settled in and became better acquainted with one another. On 15 September 1945, Colonel Amen held a cocktail party for himself and ten others including Jackson, the man who selected Dodd for the U.S. team. The event included a private dinner party at the hotel. Dodd informed his wife, “It is quite informal and it does make life in this atmosphere at least bearable” [p. 129, 9/15/45]. Four days later on the 19th of September, Colonel Corley hosted a dinner party of his own at the Herr von Faber Castle, which was designed with a marvelous 80 rooms, and contained a prominent orchestra welcoming the guests as they entered the majestic Castle. Continue reading
Courtesy of this month’s guest blogger, Chris Dodd
This year marks the 70th anniversary of one of the most important achievements in the history of the United States, and indeed the world; the anniversary of triumph of justice and the rule of law over the desire for vengeance. I am talking, of course, about the Nuremberg War Tribunal that brought the atrocities of the Holocaust to light, and the men who perpetrated them to justice, following the end of World War II.
This was an incredible achievement for mankind. As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson said at the outset of the trial, “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgement of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.” As a son of Thomas J. Dodd, this moment in human history has particular significance to me and my family. As a young, 38 year old lawyer, my father was asked to stand up and serve his country as a prosecutor with a solemn obligation to the victims and survivors of the Nazi atrocities to ensure that justice prevailed over inhumanity.
As summer drew to a close, work commenced in earnest in Nürnberg. Tom Dodd took on the responsibility of questioning Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Franz von Papen, and Dr. Arthur Seyss-Inquart. Formal questioning began on August 28th with Keitel. Writing to his wife Grace, Dodd described Keitel as a gentle, polite, very proper man, and wrote, “Sometimes I find myself liking him- and feeling sorry for him. He is a very bright man—in my opinion—and a very charming one too” [p.111, 8/30/1945].
Portion of letter dated 1 September 1945
The darker side of Keitel came out questioning on September 1st, 1945, when he admitted to the slaughtering of innocent men, women, and children hostages, but only after devastating attacks against the Germans [p.116,9/1/45]. Several days earlier (8/29), Dodd had caught Keitel in a lie; Keitel having claimed that he had no intention of harming the U.S prior to the summer of 1941. This statement was contradicted by research documenting an October 1940 conference took place with Molotov and the Japanese, leading to the Russo-Japanese agreement which outlined a plan that was enacted in the Summer and Fall of 1941 in which the Japanese would attack and invade Russia. A letter dated 5 May 1941, expressed the desire to seek an earlier intervention with the U.S and it was suggested that the Japanese take the offensive against United States—definitely earlier than Keitel’s recollection. Continue reading
With the establishment of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) to be held in Nürnberg, Germany, the real work of creating an appropriate space for the court and the necessary supporting operations began. Thomas J. Dodd, a Connecticut lawyer on the staff of the FBI, was selected by Justice Robert Jackson, the lead prosecutor for the United States, to participate in the herculean task of collecting and sorting through the available documentation to begin formulating the U.S. team’s legal plan for the upcoming trial. Arriving in London in late July 1945, Dodd began gathering information. Writing to his wife, Dodd recounts the devastation of London as a result of bombing and his travels to some of the more well-known sights before moving on to Paris in early August following the finalization of the British, French and Soviet legal teams.
Portion of letter dated 7 August 1945
Although frustrated with his assignment, he writes “I have thought of it but have decided to give myself and the job a better chance by way of time. You see it is a Colonel’s clique—from top to bottom—and it is provokingly unpleasant for civilians. I believe a terrible mistake has been made in this respect. It should be run by civilians in the name of the civil population and in the interest of peace by way of contributing to the prevention of war.” [p. 79, 8/7/1945]. Continue reading
Nuremberg Palace of Justice, 1945.
On August 8, 1945, representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, provisional government of France and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics signed the Agreement and Charter establishing the International Military Tribunal for the prosecution and punishment of the major War Criminals, known as the London Charter. The result of long and difficult negotiations that began while the Allied forces pushed in on the German lines from both east and west, the London Charter was concluded almost three months to the day that Germany surrendered to the Soviet Union.
The charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT) declared that aggressive war was an international crime and established the IMT court in Nuremberg, Germany to try the remaining major German leaders for their actions both before and during World War II. Nuremberg was notorious as the city where Hitler had proclaimed his racial laws in 1935. Four judges from the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, as well as alternates for each, were assigned the jurisdiction to try high ranking German government, military, and civilian leaders deemed personally responsible for the specific crimes. This would be the first time that an international court would hold a government responsible for its treatment of both its own citizens and citizens of other countries during war time. Continue reading
Anti-Racism Coalition of Connecticut, pamphlet.
On June 18 2015, Dylann Roof, 21 years old, shot and killed nine African-Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Roof was apprehended, he wore the flags of Apartheid-Era South Africa and Rhodesia, former white supremacist settler colonial states in Southern Africa. Roof also had Confederate flags hung on his walls and frequented white power websites. These race based murders fueled an ongoing debate about Confederate symbolism and its usage in the private and public spheres. The Alternative Press Collection at the Archives & Special Collections is comprised of fringe publishing from both ends of the political spectrum such as White Patriot and Death to the Klan. The current debate around the Confederate flag draws on long standing uses of historical interpretation and cultural identity dating to the Civil War and Reconstruction era of 1861-1877. As demonstrated in this exhibition currently on display in the Archives through these selected materials from the Alternative Press, Northeast Children’s Literature and Labor collections, figures such as Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, abolitionists John Brown and Frederick Douglass serve as symbolic totems of heritage, spirituality and citizenship. Continue reading
Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg
My visit to South Africa on assignment for Global Affairs/UNESCO and Archives & Special Collections began in the first week of June in Johannesburg during an unusually cold winter (for South Africa). The purpose of the trip was to explore and convene on the archival landscape which had been mapped in 2000 through a partnership between the African National Congress (ANC) and the University of Connecticut. The initial archives project was funded by the Mellon Foundation to organize, describe and make accessible the ANC archives documenting its activities while in exile under Apartheid. These archives, located at the National Heritage and Cultural Studies Center (NAHECS) University of Fort Hare (UFH) in Alice, Eastern Cape, have been available in their reading room for public research since 2005. Between 2000 and 2005, UConn sent faculty, archivists, librarians and oral historians to UFH to hold training sessions and benefit from this skill sharing partnership. In conjunction, UFH sent archivists and librarians to receive training within the UConn libraries. Continue reading
–Matt Jones is a PhD candidate in the English department at the University of Connecticut. His work focuses on post-Enlightenment discourse in 18th– and 19th-century British literature. He has contributed to the processing and description of the Laurie S. Wiseberg and Harry Scoble Human Rights Internet and contributes research commentary on the collection to the Human Rights Archives Blog.
A Burmese Appeal to the UN and US. Box 180, Folder 14
A lingering feeling of hopelessness permeated the old and young villagers of northern Burma under the SLORC – State Law and Order Restoration Council – regime of the 1980s and 1990s. The SLORC did not discriminate based on age, nor did the poor living conditions that became perpetuated under them. In interviews conducted with local children by Project Maje along the Burma – China border in 1991, multiple interviewees reported having already contracted malaria, theft of livestock by the Burmese government, and the early death of siblings. Nearly all of the children reported that fleeing from government forces brought them to the villages they now inhabit. A separate set of interviews with adults in the area revealed what treatment the children had to look forward to should they make it to adulthood. Adult interviewees related experiences of forced labor by the SLORC forces (called “portering”), SLORC agents requiring money or goods from traders on their way to market, and the torture of those too enfeebled to participate in forced labor. Each interview ended with the question of whether there was any hope for the future: the general answer was “no” with an occasional nod toward the desire for a true democracy. Continue reading