Robert H. Jackson Center

Sunday, April 11th, marked Holocaust Remembrance Day

Apr 20, 2010 | Posted in News Releases

Sunday, April 11th Marked Holocaust Remembrance Day

Professor John Q. Barrett, who is writing the biography of Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), sends periodic emails about Justice Jackson, the Supreme Court, Nuremberg and related topics to a private email list. The Jackson List now has over 14,000 subscribers, many of whom forward these notes widely.

To join the Jackson List, which keeps recipient identities and email addresses confidential, send a "subscribe" note to barrettj@stjohns.edu.

Below is the post that Professor Barrett wrote in response to Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum explains in this film clip (click here), these days recall the victims—six million Jews and millions of others—of Adolf Hitler and his criminal regime, and also the rescuers and the Allied soldiers who defeated Nazi Germany sixty-five years ago.

The Nuremberg trial, which chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson and his U.S. and Allied colleagues began in fall 1945, was about holding individuals accountable for planning and then committing a criminal war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Although our phrase “the Holocaust” was not part of their vocabulary, this enormous reality came to be at the center of their understanding, their work as investigators and prosecutors, and the documentation and legal legacy that they left to history.

Justice Jackson first glimpsed the Holocaust in June 1945. He was preparing to relocate to Europe to negotiate the creation of the International Military Tribunal and then to prosecute what became the Nuremberg case against the surviving Nazi leaders and their organizations. On June 12th, Jackson met at the federal courthouse in New York City with Jewish advisers. One, Dr. Jacob Robinson, told Jackson that “six million” European Jews had been “exterminated” by the Nazis. Jackson, stunned by the allegation, asked Robinson about his sources and their reliability. Robinson explained that the estimate was the difference between Europe’s known Jewish population in 1929 and what military and relief agencies were reporting as the number of survivors.

Rabbi Robinson and colleagues soon supplied supporting documentation to Justice Jackson, and over the coming months his team gathered much more. When Jackson opened the Nuremberg trial on November 21st, he described the evidence that the Allies would offer:

The conspiracy or common plan to exterminate the Jew was so methodically and thoroughly pursued that despite the German defeat and Nazi prostration, this Nazi aim largely has succeeded. Only remnants of the European Jewish population remain in Germany, in the countries which Germany occupied, and in those which were her satellites or collaborators. Of the 9,600,000 Jews who lived in Nazi-dominated Europe, 60 percent are authoritatively estimated to have perished. Five million seven hundred thousand Jews are missing from the countries in which they formerly lived, and over 4,500,000 cannot be accounted for by the normal death rate nor by immigration; nor are they included among displaced persons. History does not record a crime ever perpetrated against so many victims or one ever carried out with such calculated cruelty.

Thank you for remembering, and please share this with others.

Sincerely,

John

Professor John Q. Barrett

St. John’s University School of Law
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