In This Review

Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II
Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II
By Francine Hirsch
Oxford University Press, 2020, 560 pp
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Histories of the Nuremberg trials, held mostly from 1945 to 1946 to punish Nazi leaders for their crimes, have traditionally taken a Western perspective. The Soviet view, examined in this pathbreaking book, rarely receives mention. Yet the Soviets were the first to suggest trials for Nazi leaders, perhaps in order to strengthen reparation claims for the Soviet Union for its unmatched sacrifice during the war. Western countries had initially preferred the summary execution of Nazi officials. Moreover, Soviet lawyers played a key role in developing Nuremberg’s legal innovations, such as the notion that those complicit in a conspiracy were guilty for actions committed by any of its members. Yet once the trials started, the roles reversed, with Western lawyers seeking to stage a high-minded fair trial and the Soviets, under tight leadership from Moscow, looking to stage a didactic show trial. Relations between the Western powers and Moscow grew tenser as Winston Churchill began calling for Western cooperation against the Soviet Union. The propaganda war over the trial offers a glimpse of the beginning of the Cold War.