Chautauqua Institution’s Lecture by Tim Townsend

July 24, 2015

Chautauqua Institution will host Tim Townsend, author of Mission at Nuremberg. The Lecture will take place Friday July 24th, 2015 in the Hall of Philosophy at 3:30. Mission at Nuremberg tells the story of Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke, a farm kid from Missouri who at age 50 volunteered to be a World War II chaplain.

Tim Townsend is the news editor at He is based in Washington, D.C. Townsend is a former religion reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and has written several articles for Rolling Stone, The Wall-street Journal, and the New York Times. After receiving his Masters degree from both the Yale School of Divinity and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Townsend entered the realm of religious journalism. As an esteemed religion journalist, Townsend has received the Religion Reporter of the Year Award in 2005, 2011, and 2013.

Published in 2014, Mission at Nuremberg tells the true story of Henry Gelecke, a WWII Army Chaplain, and his role as minister to Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg.

Tim Townsend has done historical research and writing on the Nuremberg Trials which has culminated in the publishing of his first book, Mission at Nuremberg. This book tells true story of an American Lutheran Minister Henry Gerecke, who volunteered to be an Army chaplain in WWII at the age of 50. Although Gerecke was a firsthand witness to the horrors of the war, his most difficult task came after the war had ended. Sent to the German city of Nuremberg in 1945, Gerecke became the minster to the over 20 incarcerated Nazi leaders who were awaiting their trial before the International Military Tribunal.

Townsend offers an untold narrative of the Nuremberg Trials and a fascinating account of a Missourian minister’s interaction with the architects of the Nazi party. The book gives an insight into the, “nature of morality and sin, the price of empathy, and the limits of forgiveness,” as well as the relation between religion and war. Townsend’s presentation at Chautauqua will discuss the crucial ethical and spiritual issues facing Chaplain Gerecke.

Tim Townsend, author of Mission at Nuremberg, is currently a senior writer and editor at the Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project.

The mission of the Robert H. Jackson Center is to preserve and promote the legacy of former Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and Nuremberg Chief Prosecutor Robert H. Jackson. Jackson opened the International Military Tribunal trial on November 21, 1945 with a powerful Opening Statement, “The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” In his book, Tim Townsend, recognizes and explains the great responsibility that faced Jackson and his fellow prosecutors. Townsend’s lecture will offer a new historical narrative of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and expand upon the significance and influence that Jackson’s role as America’s chief prosecutor has had on the course of international history.