SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] in Nuremberg, Germany, is carefully guarded during the prosecution--
MICHAEL SALTER: In my assessment, the collection brings together two areas of activity that are normally studied and widely thought about is quite different, even incompatible. That is, US intelligence agencies and war crimes trials. The Cornell collection contributes significantly to study of the development of international criminal law, to the discipline's legal history in jurisprudence, and to the history of [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: Prosecutor Robert Jackson of the United States opens the trial with a strong indictment of the defendants.
ROBERT JACKSON: That four great nations flushed with victory and [INAUDIBLE] within jury stay the hand of vengeance, and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law, is one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason.
JEAN M. PAJEREK: More than 50 years after chief US prosecutor and US Supreme Court Justice Robert H Jackson delivered this opening statement at the world's first international war crimes trial in Nuremberg, Cornell Law Library received a donation of nearly 150 volumes of Nuremberg trial documents from Cornell alumni Henry and Ellen Korn. These documents were collected by William "Wild Bill" Donovan, special assistant to Justice Jackson at Nuremberg and founding director of the US Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. The tribunal was the first of its kind, and some documents surrounding the trials, such as transcripts of the proceedings, are already publicly available.
The Cornell collection, however, includes unique, historically significant, and previously unknown documents. Donovan and Jackson had important roles at Nuremberg. Donovan was instrumental in creating the structure of the war crimes tribunal and in the selection of judges from the allied victors.
Donovan clashed with Justice Jackson over how best to develop the prosecution's case. Jackson's approach relied predominantly on documentary evidence, while Donovan wanted to employ testimonial evidence and novel forms of trial evidence, such as films of the death camps, charts, and visual aids to educate the court. Donovan also was reluctant to treat all of the war criminals as having the same degree of guilt and wanted to turn some officers to testify against the military high command defendants, an argument that he ultimately lost Additionally, the library's Donovan collection provides evidence to support claims that Donovan was pursuing his own agenda for the OSS at Nuremberg, instead of operating as a team player within justice Jackson's hierarchy. The archival documents within the collection tell an untold story not fully conveyed by secondary historical accounts.
CLAIRE M. GERMAIN: The legacy of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg continues to resonate even today. In the Fall of 2008, I received a phone call from Ayodeji Fadugba, chief of the evidence and support unit section of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She wanted advice on how to archive and preserve the documents of the tribunal, which was scheduled to close in 2010. She had found us through Google while looking for information on how our archives of the Nuremberg trials had been organized.
I invited her to Ithaca to look at the archives. And eventually, three of us from Cornell University, including myself and my colleagues, Thomas Mills of the law library and Stuart Basefsky from ILR, were invited to the tribunal in Tanzania as United Nations consultants. We had a chance to meet individually with many of the judges to talk about how they wanted to organize and preserve their documents for study by future scholars.
THOMAS MILLS: In late 2005 and early 2006, attorney Donald Rehkopf of Rochester, New York, made use of the collection while researching and writing an amicus brief in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
DONALD REHKOPF: If you ask, is there a parallel between the way the military commissions were set up post-World War II and Guantanamo, the answer is absolutely not. The model or the construct for the Guantanamo military commissions was like nothing else ever before, and they found that it violated both US domestic law and international law.
THOMAS MILLS: With the generous support of Nathaniel Lapkin Foundation, Cornell Law Library has indexed and digitized the unique and historically significant portions of the collection, and made them universally available on its webpage to provide access to researchers all over the world. We are fortunate to have been entrusted with the Donovan collection and to be able to provide global access to this important archive. Direct requests for information from the collection have come from England, Germany, Argentina, and elsewhere around the world. The continued interest in this collection is demonstrated by the sustained high-volume traffic on our website.
And closer to home, Cornell Law students use the collection in classes, in seminars, and in writing papers. Making the collection freely available furthers the law library's mission to support within the law school and outside its walls. It also sustains Myron Taylor's legacy to promote world peace through law.
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this request.
More than fifty years after the International Military Tribunal delivered its verdicts at Nuremberg, Henry Korn '68 and his wife, Ellen Schaum Korn '68, donated nearly one hundred fifty bound volumes of Nuremberg trial transcripts and documents from the personal archives of General William J. Donovan (1883-1959) to the Cornell Law Library.
Donovan's role as special assistant to the chief U.S. prosecutor, Justice Robert H. Jackson, gave him a rare insider's perspective on the Nazi war crimes trials. The collection provides a snapshot, not just of evidence related to the 1945-46 prosecutions, but also of supplementary, behind-the-scenes documentation that is not widely available.
Through the generosity of the Lapkin Foundation, the collection is being digitized and made freely available to the public.