The Nuremberg Trials provide the foundation for contemporary international criminal law. Yet these trials are rarely explored in their broader ideational and social context. This article examines the context and role of the concept of “civilization” as used in U.S. v Altstoetter, the 1947 trial of Nazi judges and judicial administrators at Nuremberg. I place the reference to civilization in Altstoetter within a tradition of international law that understood law and civilization as co-constitutive. The Altstoetter Court conceptualized Germany as an essentially civilized country that lapsed into barbaric and therefore lawless violence. This account helped the Court to establish the blameworthiness of the defendants’ conduct, blame the Nazi violence on lawlessness, and establish its own authority.Download the article from SSRN at the link.
October 5, 2010
The Nuremberg Trials in Historical and Cultural Context
Christiane Wilke, Carleton University, Department of Law, has published Reconsecrating the Temple of Justice: Invocations of Civilization and Humanity in the Nuremberg Justice Case, at 24 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 181 (2009). Here is the abstract.