November 21, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Robert H. Jackson’s opening statement as the U.S. Chief of Counsel at the Nuremberg Trials. For more than three hours, Jackson outlined the atrocities and evidence of the Nazi’s war crimes in what was deemed “a forensic masterpiece” by The New Yorker.
In commemoration of this important anniversary, the Jackson Center has created a video of Jackson’s opening statement, using his words from the podium in Nuremberg. More than 100 people are reading this riveting message to the world. Benjamin Ferencz, who turned 100 this year and is the oldest living Nuremberg podium prosecutor, reads the first paragraph Jackson’s Opening Statement. Ferencz is joined by David Crane, Richard Goldstone, Luis Moreno Ocampo, and Robert Petit — the founding prosecutors of the modern-era humanitarian law tribunals, Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, who served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014, Hans Corell, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Kurt Graham, director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Leila Sadat, director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, and Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, United States Department of Justice, a position Jackson held early in his federal career. Participants also include Jackson family members, current and former Jackson Center Board members, staff, interns, and teacher fellows, local students and other friends of the Center.
Click on the video below to watch this unique and moving version of the Opening Statement. The statement reminds us of the importance of the rule of law and the necessity of examining how we treat each other as fellow humans living in this world. We hope it inspires you. We hope it gives you courage. We hope it helps you envision a world where the universal principles of equality, fairness, and justice prevail.
Special thanks to Ed Tomassini, a longtime volunteer at the Jackson Center, for his video expertise.