Flags at Nuremberg

This exhibit depicts a scene from Justice Jackson’s chambers in the Supreme Court.

In 1949, Alan Y. Cole, a World War II veteran and law clerk to Justice Jackson, remarked to Jackson that the flags at Nuremberg flew at half staff to mark the death of U.S. General George S. Patton. Jackson insisted that Cole must have been mistaken. He did not recall the flags outside the Palace of Justice, in which he spent so much time, ever being lowered. He was furthermore confident that, “The Russians would never lower their flag to honor an American General.”

Cole, however, was certain that his memory served him well; and, after some searching, located a photograph proving it. Justice Jackson was silent when Cole presented the framed photograph to him, but later had it hung in his chambers at the Supreme Court with the flags of the allied nations arrayed above it. This backstory strongly suggests that Jackson hung the picture as a reminder that even he, a Supreme Court Justice, was capable of error.

This tribute to the legacy of Robert H. Jackson was made possible through the generosity of our donors, and specifically Thomas Loftus III, Robert Loftus, and Julia Craighill, three of Jackson’s grandchildren, who provided replica World War II Allied Flags, and Gloria Cole, widow of Alan Cole, who provided the original photograph of the flags flying at half staff outside of the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg.