Dr. Laura Jockusch - Genocide on Trial: Holocaust Victims and Perpetrators in the Courtroom, 1945 and 2015

Dr. Laura Jockusch - Genocide on Trial: Holocaust Victims and Perpetrators in the Courtroom, 1945 and 2015
Activity Date: 
Monday, Jun 13, 2016

This colloquium explored the role of Jewish Holocaust survivors in bringing Nazi perpetrators to justice in postwar Germany and addressed the challenges of the legal conceptualisation and prosecution of Nazi crimes. It discussed the examples of two trials that both took place in the small north German town Lüneburg, seventy years apart, and both focused on crimes committed in the concentration, labor, and death camp Auschwitz. The so-called "Belsen trial" in fall 1945, just four months after Germany’s unconditional surrender, was the first Auschwitz-related trial ever; and the trial of the former SS officer and accountant Oskar Groening, which occurred in spring and summer 2015 as one of the last Auschwitz trials we are likely to see. Although the trials took place in completely different contexts--one under British military occupation, before a military tribunal, and under military law, the other in a sovereign, democratic, and reunited Germany, before a German court, based on German criminal law--both dealt with Auschwitz and addressed perennial questions of agency, intent, and responsibility of the perpetrators and the suffering, memory, and authority of the victims.