Benjamin Ferencz states in an interview that he did not have a high opinion of the Dachau war crimes trials conducted by the U.S. Army:

I was there for the liberation, as a sergeant in the Third Army, General Patton’s Army, and my task was to collect camp records and witness testimony, which became the basis for prosecutions…But the Dachau trials were utterly contemptible. There was nothing resembling the rule of law. More like court-martials.

For example, they might bring in 20 or 30 people, line them up, each one with a number on a card tied around his neck. The court would consist of three officers. None of them had any legal education as far as I could make out; it was coincidental if they did. One officer was assigned as defense counsel, another as prosecutor, the senior one presiding.

The prosecutor would get up and say something like this: We accuse all of you of being accomplices to crimes against humanity and war crimes and mistreatment of prisoners of war and other brutalities in the camp, between 1942 and 1943, what do you have to say for yourself? Each defendant would be given about a minute to state his case, which was usually, not guilty.

One trial for instance, which lasted two minutes, convicted 10 people and sentenced them all to death. It was not my idea of a judicial process. I mean, I was a young, idealistic Harvard law graduate.[1]

 

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ENDNOTES

[1] Stuart, Heikelina Verrijn and Simons, Marlise, The Prosecutor and the Judge, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009, p. 17.

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