Human Rights after Hitler

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271 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781626164314 (1626164312)

ISBN: 9781626164338

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April 2017
LC: 2016031003


Table of Contents

Human Rights After Hitler: The Story of the UNWCC
Human Rights After Hitler: Top 5 News Clips
Human Rights After Hitler: Foreign Language News Clips

Human Rights after Hitler
The Lost History of Prosecuting Axis War Crimes
Dan Plesch

2017 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine
Human Rights after Hitler reveals thousands of forgotten US and Allied war crimes prosecutions against Hitler and other Axis war criminals based on a popular movement for justice that stretched from Poland to the Pacific. These cases provide a great foundation for twenty-first-century human rights and accompany the achievements of the Nuremberg trials and postwar conventions. They include indictments of perpetrators of the Holocaust made while the death camps were still operating, which confounds the conventional wisdom that there was no official Allied response to the Holocaust at the time. This history also brings long overdue credit to the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC), which operated during and after World War II.

From the 1940s until a recent lobbying effort by Plesch and colleagues, the UNWCC's files were kept out of public view in the UN archives under pressure from the US government. The book answers why the commission and its files were closed and reveals that the lost precedents set by these cases have enormous practical utility for prosecuting war crimes today. They cover US and Allied prosecutions of torture, including "water treatment," wartime sexual assault, and crimes by foot soldiers who were "just following orders." Plesch's book will fascinate anyone with an interest in the history of the Second World War as well as provide ground-breaking revelations for historians and human rights practitioners alike.
Dan Plesch is director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, University of London. He is the author of America, Hitler and the UN, coeditor of Wartime Origins and the Future United Nations, and has been a frequent contributor to the Guardian and other media.
"Revelatory . . . Those interested in the development of human rights and justice will find this work essential reading."—Choice

"This is a well-researched and well-argued book."—The London Moment

"[An] important book . . . With so few survivors of the Holocaust alive today to give testimony the detailed accounts contained within, the UNWCC archives should be heard widely in order to counter those who still deny the horrors of the Holocaust. For every opponent of fascism this book is an essential read."—International Socialism

"The author must be congratulated for his personal efforts in securing the release of the archive as well as for this well-written history of how a valuable legal resource was kept for decades hidden from the public in denial of their right to know."—Irish Times

"This important and revelatory book examines the remarkably prescient work of a UN Commission, in the years before the end of the war, to prepare legal doctrines and trial procedures by which perpetrators of the Holocaust and of Japanese army barbarities could be brought to justice. Its precedents have a resonance and relevance today, as we grapple with how to prosecute the crimes of ISIS and Assad. The book is clearly and comprehensibly written for a general readership, but will be of professional value for historians and lawyers involved in the sadly increasing business of punishing crimes against humanity."—Geoffrey Robertson Q.C., founder and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers and author of Crimes against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice

"The extraordinary trove of cases (above thirty-five thousand) that Plesch helped uncover reveals a far-reaching, daring, indeed radical attempt at promoting human rights as a standard for the postwar era. . . I also find a lot of bravery in a book that forcefully claims, against recent revisionist literature, that the formation of the UN was epoch-making and a moment worthy of reexamination."—G. Daniel Cohen, Associate Professor of History, Rice University

Table of Contents

1. Prosecuting Rape: The Modern Relevance of World War II Legal Practices

2. A New Paradigm for Providing Justice for International Human Rights Violations

3. When the Allies Condemned the Holocaust

4. Pursuing War Criminals All Over the World

5. The Holocaust Indictments: Prosecuting the "Foot Soldiers of Atrocity"

6. Fair Trials and Collective Responsibility for Criminal Acts

7. Crimes against Humanity: The "Freedom to Lynch" and the Indictments of Adolf Hitler

8. Liberating the Nazis

9. The Legacy Unleashed

About the Author