tv Book Discussion on The Nazi Hunters CSPAN July 9, 2016 12:45pm-2:01pm EDT
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> you are watching the tv on c-span2, television for serious readers. here's a look at what's on prime time tonight we kick off the evening at 7:00 p.m. with a panel discussion on hillary clinton's book "it takes a village". @8:30 p.m. from a secret service officer gary burns tells of his time serving in the white house train the clinton administration. at 9:30 p.m. former chicago bulls player craig hodges talks to book tv about his book, longshot. coming up at 10:00 p.m. on book tvs afterwards program, heather mcdonald talks about policing in america. we will finish up our prime time programming at 11:00 p.m. with a talk by author mary eberstadt, her most recent book is, it's
dangerous to believe. that happens tonight on c-span to book tv. >> good evening and welcome. by name is howard and on behalf of the united states holocaust memorial museum is my other two welcome you to today's program titled a relentless pursuit bringing holocaust perpetrators to justice. i am the son of a holocaust survivor and have served on the counsel for the us holocaust museum for the past five years. i've come to learn that the museum is so much more than just a building that houses exhibits. the museum research in history, trained educators and members of the military and judiciary within the us and internationally and has many programs focused on preventing future genocides from occurring again. here in new york, the museum's
northeast regional office offers a variety of events including talks like this one that you are about to hear plus film screenings and holocaust history as well as contemporary genocide and anti-semitism. tomorrow, we will be holding this same program, so please encourage her westchester friends and family to join us there tomorrow evening at 7:45 p.m. tonight's program is part of the conversation at the us holocaust memorial museum is holding nationwide, examining the role each of us has when confronted with difficult and complex challenges. only in recent history has international law evolved to define and punish mass violence against civilians. out of the devastating crime of the holocaust the allied was forced to bring state actors to justice for unspeakable crime never before tried in a court of law. a small percentage of nazi officials and collaborators were
brought to trial in the immediate postwar period. as the years passed the global community largely lost interest in pursuing the remaining perpetrators. however, a few remarkable individuals continue to work to bring nazi criminals to justice in these later trials continue to influence international law. law grows through the setting a precedent. in other words, how a judge applies the law helps determine what the law means. through the judgments of beer tribunals in court international law on genocide and crimes against humanity evolved, deepening our understanding of the crime and our capacity to respond. today, our outstanding panel will discuss how these precedents were created and applied to help carry them out and ongoing legacy of this history. it's now my pleasure to introduce our special guest, andrew nagorski, journalist and author of the new book, "the nazi hunters" and doctor
lawrence a douglas and author of "the right wrong man". our moderator this evening's doctor elizabeth white, this story with states holocaust memorial museum. she goes by barry, so when you hear them talking to her that way you understand. following the program both authors will be in the lobby to sign copies of their book. thank you. [applause]. [applause]. >> good evening, everyone and it just so we are straight on who's who, i'm doctor elizabeth barry
white's. this is lawrence douglas and a andrew nagorski. thank you all for coming out tonight and thank you both for participating in this program. brutal atrocities has been a future warfare since the dawn of human history and to the extent that perpetrators were made to account for their action it was true victors justice, acts of retribution by the winning side against the losers. the, during world war ii the alliedsignal they were going to take a different approach. late in 1943, as it became clear that nazi germany was going to lose the war the leaders of the united states, great britain and the soviet union announced that the perpetrators of nazi atrocities would be brought to trial under the laws of the countries where they committed their crime and that the major nazi leadership and criminals would face joint punishment by the allies.
did this signal that the allies had definitely decided that they were going to forgo vengeance in favor of justice and what did they hope to accomplish by putting nazi criminals on trial? >> will, not really in the sense that justice and vengeance were inevitably intertwined at the end of the war and remember, 1940-- 43 the declaration you cited there was a lot of fighting ahead on the way to berlin and a lot of it was vicious especially the red army had suffered massive losses and they were getting revenge among others by not just on the military for instant rapes by the red army are estimated to be close to 2 million in germany. , there you have that declaration, which was a novel idea that instead of just exact vengeance you do seek justice, but right away to six weeks stalin says to roosevelt and churchill, well, i have an idea
of justice. lets lineup 50000 were hundred thousand of the top german commanders and let's shoot to them. that will be justice. churchill was horrified and roosevelt said something like let's have a compromise and shoot 49500. [laughter] >> did not go over well with churchill, but the back and forth and eventually stalin and roosevelt decide they want trials for different reasons. stalin loved show trials and in the 30s he had show trials, fake trials and roosevelt really wanted this principle and churchill was aware of the danger of the trap of show trials and he suddenly in this recently declassified document we found out that at one point he was considering a plan to just have summary executions of a few top leaders and to some imprisoned without trial, so this went back and forth and eventually the trials happened
as we know, nuremberg and dachau and so forth and it was unprecedented, but every step of the way it was controversial to today. >> what were the reasons they opted to go for the trials? were there particular goals besides just holding people accountable? >> aside from holding people accountable and obvious one of someone has to be punished for the horrors, there was the educational element that was there very early and president truman said that one points, with these trials are meant to do is to make it impossible for someone to say now or anytime in the future that these things did not happen and that's why immediately you had at the trial documents, film, witnesses and in some cases witnesses of documentation, but it was to set the record straight because so many people were in denial of what it happened especially in germany and austria, but
elsewhere in the world people were only beginning to grasp the magnitude of what had happened? host: was the particular focus on the german people to kind of show them that evils that had been done in their names then? guest: yes, that was the priority at first and why we fought this war. but, there was immediate opposition. in the united states there was opposition to the trial from the left and right say mrs. victors justice which was aligned with many germans at first, but poor people that went into the concentration camps and liberated them said no, this is not victors justice. this is just justice. host: you are our legal expert here in the charges before the international military tribunal at nuremberg were crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. a least some of these were new terms. did the international legal community consider these to be well-founded
in existing law or were some particularly controversy of? guest: will, as andy said the whole trial was developed with controversy and we have to remember this was the first international criminal court in human history and in certain respects not only were the 21 individual defendants on trial, but a lot self was on trial that is to the extent allies had committed to doing a trial program as opposed to summary education. they had to demonstrate that law was inadequate -- adequate twill for dealing with crimes of this magnitude and so they wanted to make sure that whatever charges were brought against these defendants , that they had adequate grounding in international law work now, that said i think we need to bear in mind that the nuremberg trial before the international tribunal was not the first instance a holocaust trial. as you mentioned, the principal charge brought against a the defendants at nuremberg were that they had waged on
aggressive war in violation of international law and that to charge of waging on aggressive war that has not showed a lot of durability since nuremberg and even at the time it was very much involved in controversy. indy use the term victors justice and it was most particularly applied to the charge of waging on aggressive war because the question emerges since when in human history waging war a crime. it might something we don't like to disagree with, but since when is it a crime and the other charges that were brought, were crimes. were crimes were pretty well-established and international law and crimes against humanity in my mind was the most distant contribution that nuremberg made. it was through the channel of this relatively new thing called crimes against vanity that most of the evidence of the crimes of the holocaust entered the nuremberg trial and i think we can say now with 70 plus years of
hindsight that crimes against humanity was the most distinctive and important legal breakthrough of the nuremberg trial. host: and crimes against humanity included what kinds of actions? guest: basically included what we can describe as extermination, systematic attacks on population. we have to remember that genocide, which is a think is a term we would all used today to describe the nazis exterminated practices, genocide was only coined as a term in 1944, a year before the trial started. it was coined by ralph who is a legal advisor, polish jewish legal advisor of the us war department, so even though today genocide stands as an independent crime in international law, at the time at nuremberg it was very much a new term and it does emerge in the trial itself if you look at the closing arguments of the prosecutor.
they start to use this new term, but the new term of genocide is basically used as a description of the knot sees crime against. host: i think it was in the indictment. guest: exactly and indictment as mentioned as a war crime and then the closing arguments of the lawyers of the prosecutors when they described as a crime against humanity. host: well, if you're going to hold a trial you had to present evidence to support the charges and is so late in the war the united states army formed war crimes investigated teams whose mission was to accompany combat troops as they caught their way across germany and to seize and collect evidence of nazi war crimes. so, let's take a look at how this worked according to nuremberg prosecutor. [inaudible]
>> what i would do immediately would be to secure the records. i would seize. no one in, knowing out. all secured. in order to have a successful war crimes prosecution-- prosecution you need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, specific known crimes that have been committed also, defendants. if you haven't got them both together at the same time then you have nothing and to bring the two together is not easy
this death machinery, you were guilty, whether or not it could be proved you killed person x, y, oz. in complete contradiction to the -- so you have that controversy set up which goes up to the present. then he also brought his trials were overshadowed by one case. koch. the widow -- the wife of the current commander and known as the bitch of vukenwald. she was nope for torturing and having prisoners beaten and for flaunt allergy sexuality and then having prisoners picked off who responded in any way it to. then there were very lure rid stories in the press that she had also had prisoners, especially with tattoos, taken away, killed, and stripped, and lamp shades made of their skin.
a lot of this was -- some of this became dubious, and especially the latter part, and later on she was pardoned by -- reduced from a life sentence to four years by clay, and dense was furious and there was a whole uproar in record but even when west germany wanted to end the trials, as soon as she was let out she was imprisoned by west germany and given another life sentence and then committed suicide in prison. >> as you indicated after 1948 there was -- the allies' war crimes trial program petered out and they were -- instead of trying people they were commute sentences and granting clemency, and by 1958, pretty much everyone who had been convicted but hadn't been executed pretty quickly, after sentenced, was
free. lawrence, i want to ask you, what were the reasons for this change? did the allies accomplished what they set out to do with the trial? >> i think there's three answers. one answer is the cold war. the second answer is the cold war. and the third answer is the cold war. that was really the realities were at some point the united states made the calculation that we needed west germany as a dependable ally against our former ally, the soviet union, and it was really just a calculation of trying to appease the germans. the germans turned against the allied war crimes program really, really aggressively. at the time of the nuremberg trial before the international tribunal, the germans were actually quite sympathetic or at least they expressed -- perhaps they were too cowed to express their actual views but polls
taken by the americans they expressed support for the nuremberg trial. when these additional trials were conducted, some of the ones that andy was describe, then the germans felt now the allies are rubbing our face in our crimes and we want to transition into a democratic society. obviously in making the transition to a democratic society, there were tremendous number of former nazis who continued to occupy positions or power, particularly between the legal apparatus west germany. those persons had very little incentive to support an aggressive war crimes program. so once the soviet union merged as the principle antagonist of the united states, and once the united states calculated that germany could be used as an ally, then the americans were willing to do a lot in order to secure the support of germany, and unfortunately that took the
form of commuting sentences of perpetrators of genocide. >> just one very specific example. interviewed the man who became the head of the first cia base in berlin. there's the oss, which was a predecessor, then the cia base. and he himself was a german jew, who had left germany as a teenager in the '30s, gone to prison, then came to the united states, became a citizen, joined the army, and then the oss and the cia. so, as this young head of this first cia base in berlin, he said, i was not interested in fighting the last war. they got rid of some of the big guys. time to move on. and that was the prevailing sentiment. even despite family ties he really just felt that very strongly. >> you have each written a book about the pursuit of justice for nazi crimes, and your books both
focus particularly on the era after the allied war crimes program. but you take very, very different approaches. so, andrea, your book focuses on specific individuals who played very different roles in the pursuit of justice. explain how you picked your subjects and why you thought this was a good way to approach the topic. >> well, i think, first of all, you have to understand, when yaw say nazi hunters, which is a very loose phrase and i know many people in the justice department so forth have qualms about it, but there were two essential groups. there were the people who were the government, military prosecutors, investigators, and who had the authority of governance behind them, and then there were what call the free lance nazi hunters, people lime holocaust survivors, freedman,
who made it their mission to publicize and push the issues when it was unpopular to do so, and when the situation happened with governments were dropping this very quickly, even people like wiesenthal, everybody gives him credit for keeping the issue alive and not allowing people to forget it. and then the other thing that intrigued me, as a reporter, for instance, covering the collapse of communism, i'm always struck by how history in retrospect looks so inevitable. this must have happened this way. well, in fact, that's not true. in my experience, and individuals making decisions, someone like -- i say there are two things that distinguish the people i write about. determination and, for lack of a better word 0, a good word, chutzpah. friends demonstrate hewitt spa
by saying at age 27 i can cake on this case. he had a famous incident where as a corporation, marlena dietrick came to the general headquarters and he told the guards to watch the latrine so she would take a bath and then he walked in when she was in the bath, and so impressed was dietrick she invited him to lunch with a general. but in determination, not to be stopped, and so you had people like friends and denson who were strongly motivated. fritz bauer in germany, from a secular jewish family. a social democrat, had gone into exile, and then came back and was determined to make the germans face up to the past when it was incredibly unpopular. web sentiments was rung against it and eventually orchestrated
the auschwitz trial, provided a key tip for the heisman case. so everybody -- later on, you had people in the united states and france, those of you know something about -- was not jewish. grew up -- her father was a german army, came to paris, fell in love with -- his father died in auschwitz and she suddenly learning about this, became this passionate anti-anti, going after the nazis wherever she saw them, and when a former nazi became the chancellor of west germany in 1968, he actually got on to a stage like this, and snuck by with a press credential -- those newspaper people -- and she slapped him and shouted, nazi!
this is the year 1968, when bobby kennedy had been assassinated. martin luther king had been assassinated. she could have been shot. she did this. so some people took incredibly dramatic actions. >> so, lawrence, you used the long odyssey of the john demjanjuk case to tell the story of the potion war pursuit of justice. can you summarize briefly the dimman yuck case? >> he was -- he lived most of his life as suburban cleveland where he was a machinist forked and happened to be the subject of the lengthiest and arguably most bizarre criminal case to arise out of the holocaust. a man who was tried four times. he was tried twice in the united
states on civil immigration charges, that is, for having lied on his immigration forms, and he earned the dubious distinction of being the only person in american history to be twice stripped of his naturalized u.s. citizenship. he was tried once in israel in the late 1980s as ivan the terrible tribly nka. this was a spectacular case in israel. he was condemned and sentenced to death, and his case happened to keen side with the unraveling of the soviet union, this meant that both defense lawyers and israeli prosecutors suddenly got access to lit ray'll hundreds of thousands of pages of documents
that had been molding in a kgb files, and what this evidencecasted was that the israelis had the wrong guy. he had been convict almost exclusively on the basis of eye witness testimony of survivors who swore with absolute certainty to recognize in demjanjuk their former tormenter, this legend darely sick guard, and these were survivors who when they testified, they went out of their way of saying, i'm not like someone who suffered the trauma of a passing car accident where i caught a fleeting glance of the person who injured me. i saw this guy day in, day out, for months on end, in his image is burned into my retina. and yet when the appellate phase has run its course the israeli supreme court was able to conclude that they had got it wrong. they had misidentified
demjanjuk, that this legendary ily sadistic card was a different ukrainian. what made the whole thing into a legal perfect storm is at the same time that this evidence made clear that demjanjuk had not been ivan the terrible, it also made clear that he had been -- we can call him ivan the not so hot, that is, that in fact he had been a guard but not -- at an equally lethal nazi death camp. this led to another entirely elaborate set of proceedings which resulted in his deportation to germany in 2009, and in 2009 he stood nile germany now as ivan the not so hot rather than ivan the table. -- ivan the terrible.
so i used the lengthy and bizarre case, as you say, kind of a conduit to look at the larger legal struggles, looking at many different cases involve egg effort to bring perpetrators and also collaborators in the holocaust to justice. >> so, the trial you first mentioned, that was really a watershed event in the pursuit of justice for nazi crimes. can you talk what you think the impact of that case was, why it was so important, eischman. >> i want to say one thing as prelude to the trial. it created this legends that the israelis were out there hunting for nazis everywhere, and i went to israel in researching the book, and found that the two members of the team who led the team that physically snatched
eischman were still alive at the time. but the commander was there, and still alive, and i talked to him about it, and at one point he said in 1953 i went to germany as a young massad agent. and i thought, nazi, nazi. he said no. he said israel needed to vet the jews coming to israel. they needed it for the population and also knew that some of them were being recruited by the kgb and other eastern intelligence agencies and they'd be reporting back to their capitals, warsaw, budapest, and then it would be going straight to the other side. so i wasn't thinking about nazis, and israel -- the u.s.
had its cold war, israel had the preoccupation with just existing. by the late '50s when they got this tip that -- about eischman's presence in argentina, at that point the origin really was -- this is -- again, there's one member of the prosecution team still alive. he says our concern was that the holocaust was being for gone not just eye broad but mott being talk about in israel. and young israelis could not understand how this could happen, how people to have gone to their death seemingly without fighting. in israel you understood fighting and death. if they got eischman it would be a chance to explain the whole process, and ben gurion authorized the operation. a very long and difficult story. >> the eischman trial was the great holocaust trial.
if he go back to nuremberg, nuremberg was not a holocaust trial. was about agrees receive war. in fact one thing that also disturbed many hole cutts survivors about the nuremberg trial is the nuremberg trial was not testimony of the people surveyed. it was a trial by documents, trial in which the prosecutors basically read thousands and thousands of pages of captured nazi documents into the record, and one of the consequences of that trial by documents at nuremberg was the famous british writer, rebecca west, covered the nuremberg trial for the daily telegraph in britain, and she famously described nuremberg as a citadel of boredom. she says it was boredom on an historic scale. and part of it was that it lacked the vibrancy of having a human voice, and david ben gurion and in particular the
israeli attorney general who was the prosecutor, he wanted to specifically, a., make a trial, as opposed to nuremberg, which would focus on the holocaust, and, b., would be a trial in which lived history would be told through the memory of survivors. and that is exactly how the trial unfolded. unfolded with many, many survivors testifying, and both ben surprised by the outcome of the trial. they wanted to teach a dome audience about the holocaust. they were caught by surprise the degree to which the eischman trial rivetted not simply a domestic audience in israel but an international audience and real isa is the event that put the holocaust on the map in west germany. also put the holocaust on the map in the united states.
and in fact in many ways, i want to -- i hope this formulation isn't confusing but in a certain way, it created the holocaust as the event as we now know it. that is, up until the time of the eischman trial we can say that the extermination of the jews of europe was seen as one of the features of the second world war. after the eischman trail it starts to merge in the way we see the holocaust today, which is perhaps as the exemplary event of the 20th century,. >> of course that generated huge intellectual debate with hannah going to the trial with her theory about the trial and whether it was eischman a minor functionary who just was carrying out orders as he tried to portray him, or was he a monster, and if someone is a monster, then does that absolve other people who just say, only the monsters did this.
so, it becomes a folk cam point, not just -- focal point not just for justice -- not justice and hole cust studies but human schooling at its most basic level. >> it gave rise to many of the famous psychology experiments. someoff might be familiar. all these things were kind of motivated with trying to make sense of the psychology of the perpetrator, and so that is also one of the very interesting things that all these trials do. they create images of what it means to be a perpetrator of these extreme crimes. >> so, then in 1979, the united states justice department creates the office of special investigations and gives it exclusive authority to investigate and bring legal action against nazi criminals who are living in the united states. why 1979, why hadn't anything been done before? why did the government then at a
time when almost nobody else was trying nazi criminals, decide to undertake this venture? >> i think one of the interesting things is -- the eischman trial, the various earlier trials, and how this affected -- and geographically and in time, and the key moment, one of the key moments was 1964 when steven wiesenthal hears about this woman and hears a story from some survivors who are talking about this vicious guard who was called kobilo which in polish means the mayor. she was lashing out at prisoners gratuitously. they say what happened to this woman? and wiesenthal traces her. she was from austria and she had
served briefly in prison in austria, and then marries an american named russell ryan and she becomes mrs. russell ryan in lives in queens, and then the editor of "the new york times" says we have this type from this guy weeting wiesenthal, there's this woman in queen he knocks hob they ever door, and it takes him until 1971 for the inf to finally strip her of her citizenship and she is sent to germany, convicted theres' spent several years in prison in germany. but it begins to raise questions and other people say, who else is in the united states? and they are -- and there are various reports, the inf is supposed to vet these things, and not to conduct war crimes trials because you can't try them for it, but if they came in under false pretenses, then you
can strip them of their citizenship, and there are several of those cases, and in the early '70s, elizabeth postman, the woman from brooklyn, begins to hear about these things and says, at first i thought the case was as anber racing, and then i -- aberration, and then i hear there's a list at the inf has of nazi war criminals in the united states, 53 people. and the inf commissioner testifies before a subcommittee, and she asked do you have this list? he says, yes. she said, i practically dropped out of my chair, and then there's this whole battle. the inf has not investigated these cases and eventually forces the osi, office of special investigations, where, like yourself, and that becomes the unit that finally gets back into the business of identifying people who are nazi war criminals, and stripping them of
their citizenship, deporting them if possible, and if possible, getting them tried someplace else. all the steps along the way we can discuss and each one a very difficult bun at least establishing the principle if you're a nazi war criminal, you're not welcome in the united states. you may have slipped in after the wars, especially when -- with all those displaced persons, as obviously some small percentage of. the might have been involved in nazi war crimes and pretending to be someone else than they were. >> so, lawrence, i know it's always create. it was a -- represented a new approach to how to go about this pursuit of justice. how would you say were the strengths and the weaknesses of the osi model? >> well, it goes back a little bit to what andy was saying. these american prosecutors are prosecuting civil charges, that is, basically taking crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and they're treating
it as if it's lying on your immigration form, and so in a certain way you're kind of torturing history by trying to digest this -- these horrific crimes to something that is really kind of just a civil wrong. the reason the prosecutors do this is -- it's a very clever and important strategy because these are crimes that took place outside the united states, which the perpetrators were not american citizens at the time, and which the victims were not american citizens. so american courts had no jurisdiction to bring criminal charges against these individuals, and so kind of they developed this very clever strategy of using civil immigration charges as the way to go about it. think that had its limitation. the other thing to mention is that even bringing these immigration cases as andy also suggested, it was incredibly complicated. and it basically required, as
you can probably tell better than i could it required the osi win the department of justice, people to really kind of create this new paradigm for bringing trials forward. typically you have prosecutors working with investigators who do kind of normal investigative work and then help develop these cases inch this case it would not work. you need people who were, first of all, people with language skills. most of the information, most of the evidence was in a foreign language that typical investigator would have no ability whatsoever to negotiate with these kind of documents, and so the osi, and you're one of the living examples of this -- they pioneered this completely unprecedented arrangement within the department of justice that basically get rid of all the normal investigators and hire professional historians and look like an institute for the advanced study of the holocaust and you become part of this team
that works closely with lawyers for the purposes of mastering the incredibly difficult documentary challenge for these cases. one thing that the osi learned the hard way was the difficulties of relying on eye witness testimony. again, this is something that came up in the demjanjuk case and comes up in another case, this wallace case, which came before demjanjuk case. you have these witnesses who swear with absolute certainty, you can see the way in which lawyers would be tempted to believe that the people who suffered such a trauma were accurate in the identifications they came to realize, that documentary evidence ultimately was more solid than the
identification. >> why did germany decide to prosecute demjanjuk over 60 years from this crime and what was the significance of that case? >> just to be clear, demjanjuk was not a nazi. and he was not a german. this is a guy from the ukraine, born in ukraine in 1920, actually taken as a prison are of war by the german army in the spring of 1942, and demjanjuk is someone who many people said -- granted might have been a collaborator and clearly was enlisted by the ss and sew collaborated and served as a death camp guard but there was this question about, what good are we doing by trying someone who, by all accounts, was at the bottom of the hierarchy, and was never a nazi, never -- certainly
was not a german. and when i started -- i wrote about this trial for holiday harper's magazine" and i thought the trial was going to be somewhat grotesque and i thought my conclusion would be, what are they doing trying this guy seven years after the fact. and by the end of the trial i came to the realization that this was an important trial. this was a trial that got the logic of genocide right. that is, it understood, kind of went back to the point that was made -- >> made the same point about -- >> number of people made the same point earlier, but german courts had for decades treated the holocaust as if it were a garden variety act of murder, just multiplied millions of times over. and the great achievement of the trial that took place between
2009 and 2011 is it really understood the genocide is not like murder. when you're dealing with state-sponsored mass criminality it doesn't matter if someone is particularly cruel. doesn't matter if someone is a sociopath or sadist, if sun worked in a factory of death they were an accessory to murder because that was their job. that was the simple and yet historic kind of breakthrough of the german court. took them 60 years to frame that relatively simple and straightforward conclusion, a critical conclusion not only for making sense of the holocaust but also making sense of other instances of state sponsored atrocity. >> that's why we still have he trials today operating on the assumption, the conclusion -- is that you -- why try someone who is 95 years old.
it's on that logic, you don't have to prove a particular murder, and every trial established that there were options. people did not have to do these jobs. there were no consequences if you opted out. the irony is if the same logic were used in the '50s and '60s then hundreds of thousands would have been on trial. the point is made and that obeying an order is just saying, i obey orders, never an acceptable defense, and some ways it's the worst defense you can have. >> in fact, thankfully it's like -- >> i think we need to give people a chance to ask some questions. >> let me just follow up on one point. the point that andy made, which is one of the most interesting things to come out from holocaust research, which was many of the people who were put on trial argued that the reason they engaged in these manifestly criminal acts is because they were forced to.
that's, they basically had a gun to their head and that's why thigh engaged in mass atrocities. well, historians have spent a huge amount of time looking into that claim, and the total number of ss men who were german ncos who suffered serious consequences as a result of opting out -- there would people who opted out. the total number of people who suffered draconian consequences is exactly zero. >> well, i know we can talk for a long time. there are a lot of interesting aspects to this subject and i'm sure many of you would like to ask some questionsment we have mics down at either end here. i can't see, unfortunately. but if you want to line up, it's a little better. and you can ask your questions.
i ask that you keep them pretty specific. i think we'll take a few questions and then mete them out. [inaudible] >> i was just wondering if you think focusing on the female perpetrators, which are always kind of scandalous, like koch -- that's in a way diverted the attention from this wider span of the criminality that -- i hate to use the word banal but where nobody is responsible, everybody is just a functionary and isn't this permanent element of cruelty? >> can we take another question?
>> i wonder if you can talk about the group. in a sense, take one country like lithuania. not one commander has ever been put on trial in lithuanian, and 93% of lithuanian jews were murdered within three months. i'd like to hear more about what you have to say about that. >> do we have one more question? >> yeah. i was curious about the trials i've been reading about in germany today. 90-year-old nazi that suddenly the germans decided to prosecute and convict. can you talk about that? >> okay. >> i'm happy to answer the last question -- i'll answer -- opposite the trials -- hon koenig is going on right now in
germany and this past summer, the so-called bookkeeper of auschwitz, was convicted this past july, and both of these trials were basically building on the demjanjuk precedent. some of the people who had a somewhat cynical reaction to the demjanjuk trial was -- isn't just ironic that the germans finally have this great conceptual breakthrough when there's no more perpetrators to bring to trial. one of the things the german prosecutors were interested in doing was to show at least we're going to try to use in the time that remains to us -- we're going to try to use this press precedent as an opportunity to go of some of the remaining guards who are alive temp point of the trials is, it's -- in fact many of the survivors and the family of survivors who have attend these trials, i think
they're really interested in seeing the symbolic statement of the conviction. they're lest interesting in seeing 90-year-olds being sent away for the rest of the days as much office seeing the symbolic understanding that this person was an access troy murder because that was the job that he was performing. and to connect that point to the question about the female perpetrators, the people like koch, and i do think those kind of trialers very misleading. they kind of fit into this prurient or voyeuristic understanding of nazi crimes as this kind of ghoulishly sexualized and that what the whole point about the demjanjuk trial. his was not a person who was a sociopath or acting out of sexual deviancy.
this was an entirely ordinary person. many ways he was the banal figure that eischman never was. eischman really was a zealot antiseptember -- antisemite. demjanjuk was a lonely foot soldier of genocide. >> on these trials today, it's not so much the punishment that is the issue. those are the last trials where you get the perpetrator, maybe to actually say something, but you have eye witnesses still, you get testimony. it's to put this on record. and that is critical and has been critical from the beginning and it's interesting that someone like, for instance, fritz bauer, the german jewish prosecutor, his first case in 1952 was a libel case against a case named otto remmer. who was the guy who was supposed to arrest goebel, thing that
hitler is dead. but hitler gets on the phone and says arrest the plotters. fritz bauer was suing him libel not because of that but because he said after the war in a rally the people who tried to assassinate hitler were traitors and foreign agents, and he won the defamation indication and forgot ask for a punishment. the point was to win, and show that to be a patriotic german meant to oppose hitler. so as for the group, there's no satisfaction there anyplace. the man who said i didn't ask for a particular sentence, the crimes were so great, but he had documentation basically on 3,000 people, he said, who every day would good out and shoot people, and he picked -- in nuremberg there were 24 seats in that docket, so he chose 24 at iter.
then two of them dropped out for a couple ropes so he tried 22. and as i mentioned, only four of them were put to death. and the rest served sentences up with 1958. so the group -- it was no more than symbolic, and at love this justice was symbolic, but the notion that at least you've get the verdict and at least you get the history, then that has an impact. >> some of the people in the group that operated in lithuania were tried by the -- west germans later. the group were thankfully very small and didn't do all the killings themselves. they were really the organizers of the killings, and they rely very heavily on local support wherever they went and in lithuanian that would you true. men late -- many lithuanians involved in the killings, and
post war it was under the soviet union but after lithuania became independent, lithuanians clung to this perception of themselves as the double victim. they suffered under natz eu sis and under the soviet and there was great reluctance to face up to what some of their countrymen had done during the holocaust, and that's a process that they're still going through. think there's been some progress on that, but definitely not in the form of trials, and now it's probably too late. >> anymore questions? >> i do. one of the purposes of trials, i guess hopefully, would be to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening in the future. when i look at the world today, if anything, i think the world
is becoming even more brutal and more engaged in genocide than it ever was before, and i was just wondering what your feelings are about these trials and the roles they play in terms of changing the way people feel about genocide and, more important, acting on the feelings. >> well, the acting is the hard part and obviously we haven't done too well. look at rwanda, cambodia, any number of situations, but i think what has changed is the principle now, i think, even every tyrant and somewhere in his mind is the thought, if i'm no longer in power, somebody may charge me with war crimes. or crimes against humanity. that was not a concern before. and to me it is a bit like also the stories -- a lot of stories about nazi hunters north just israelis but nazi hunters week
wiesenthal. remember the boys from brazil-hunting down a character in latin america. some of the myth actually made people lining manage la, who escaped justice, the hiding and the living in terror at the end of their days, so maybe some myths are not all bad. but in terms of the principles have been established. the reality is still a long way from it but i think that is a breakthrough, and again, getting back to the principle to say that i'm obeying orders and clearly orders are -- you are meant -- every individual has to judge those orders and it's like during the group case in one case the judge asked one of the most educated leaders if you had been ordered to shoot your own sister, would you have shot your own sister?
and it left him speechless. that do you say, of you say i'd shoot my own sister, you come across as a monster. if he says i wouldn't, then he undermines his whole idea that i -- >> the question you raise is the question about deterrence, and in my own mind, deterrence is not a particularly strong justification for international prosecutions. if you look, for example, the charter of the international criminal court, which is now a permanent institution which is meant to supplant the need for creating these kind of ad hoc courts like nuremberg. it disbanded after the trial was connect. all of these international tribunals talk about deterrence as a justification. but if you talk to any international lawyer, no one takes that seriously. no one really believes that these kind of trials are going
to deter some tyrant in some far-fringe country from engaging in atrocities against his open population. but nonetheless, as andy pointed out, that doesn't necessarily impeach the importance of thieves casesful they make a symbolic statement that these type of atrocities will not result in impunity, and the other thing is this goes back to some that andy mentioned, and i've written about as well, these trials perform an incredibly important function in offering an account, that is, in offering a story of the history of the tragedy which then can be asim -- assimilate by the victim population and country that perpetrates these crimes. that's the values of thieves trials rather than a deterrence effect, and not to mention defensor is a speculative. the hard to prove why something didn't happen. that's an impossible thing to prove. i wouldn't necessarily justify
them in that regard. >> do we have time for one last question. >> so, apart from genocide, there is an increasing prevailing antisemitism, particularly in europe in which the word -- is backing pervasively used, and particularly one of the great allies, britain, in england, the labor party now is full of antisemitism as i read recently, at least 50 members of parliament have been suspended base of antisemitic remarks. the new muslim mayor of london is one of the strongest opponents of this antisemitism. the call for the expulsion of ken livingston, the former
mayor. his belief that or assertion that the zionists worked withhart hitler. so not withstanding we don't have that kind of horror, the perviating increasing anti-semitism that is rampant in europe, with former allies, is evidence that lessons really have not been learned. >> i can't argue with that. all i would say is that we -- lessons would be even less learned if we hadn't had the efforts of this people who really kept this issue alive and brought -- made the holocaust such a part of the conversation. that was not inevitable. there was nothing inevitable. any of these trials would not necessarily had taken place if
flint hundred pressure on governments and hadn't been successful operations. but there is in europe definitely and also mixed in with the muslim immigration problem, sometimes people fearing to speak up when, for instance, in france, french jews are afraid in certain areas of being attacked. so the whole issue of silence in the face of such antisemitism, i'm glad you brought up the new mayor of london. very impressive how he stood up to it within his open party and it's good at least some actions have been taken. but our knowledge of history, you had boris jordan, the former mayor of london who called the iu somethingle likele napoleon trying to -- >> ago thing it highlights, it highlights the way in which on
some level the creation of law is a terrifically important breakthrough and you can see the who feel of what we call international criminal law as something that is born out of the law's contact with the crimes of the holocaust. at the same time international criminal law is incredibly vulnerable to politicizization, and so at the same time that it is incredibly important to see people who are being prosecuted for genocide. it's also alarming to see the way in which prosecutors and different countries can also claim that, well is that correct justify the prosecution of an israeli head of state for crimes against humanity, against parissan people. i think it high lights the way in which this thing that we call international criminal law, as important eight is, is also a double edged sword.
>> thank you, everybody. our two authors will be out front. [applause] their books will be on sale. i can say they're engaging reads and have been getting great reviews. so come out and ask more questions and buy some books. [inaudible conversations] >> this is poock tv on c-span2, and we want to know what is on your summer reading list. send us your choices@book tv is our twitter handle and you can also post it on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. or you can send an e-mail to
booktv@c-span2 organize what's on your reading list? >> i want to tell you've about the mark twain that not everybody knows about. most people think of this witty author of huckleberry finn who fought racism and impeelallism. that's all truth bet he was an eternal bad boy. liked to drink, smoke and curse. he married an heir ess who paid bills can you imagine being the comedy kingpin of the united states and at age 60 losing it all? he was dead broke in 1895, and he had lost all his money and all his wife's money. and i just can't imagine luigsing all my wife's money. it's so terrifying. there are torture implements
that have not been invented she would use. after all the family of samuel clemens could no longer afford to live in their own beautiful home. hough sad is that? it's a quirky, wonderful house. he designed it himself to a large extent. he had a fireplace built with a window over so it the smoke would go on either side and he could see snow falling while the flames are coming up. he adored this house. and they had a happy, loopy family life. they had three dogs. twain named one ino, another dug uno and the do dog was don't know. he also enjoyed acting with his daughter, susie. they were rich. they had a tiffany drawing room. the family had seven servants, clawing butler and a coachman but it was never enough for twain. the poor missouri boy wanted everything. he wanted to be a funny writer but also to be a literary author. he wanted to be a family man but
also wanted to be a poker playing rogue. he was so full of conflicting desires. he liked downhome folks and he also wanted to be rich as a rockefeller or vanderbilt. he wrote, few of us can stand prosperity. another man's, i mean. and he was a magnet for con men. what a talker he wrote of james w. page. he could persuade a fishing to come out and take a walk with him. so twain was losing his shirt. he had a lethal combination for an investor. moonshot enthusiasm and no patience for details help once ask the an can'tant to send him a profit loss statement that even his daughter could understand. jean what two years old at the time. so, twain thought the following invention would change the world. you don't recognize it? this is the page typesetter.
weighed almost four tons, 18,000 moveable parties and was supposed supposed to revolutionize printing if it worked. twain had the immense misfortune of seeing it work once. at first twain called james page the, quote, shakespeare of mechanical invention, after it kept braking done twain began fantasizing about capturing a certain part of page's anatomy in a steel trap and watching him slowly bleed to death. so, the page typesetterland out twain's become -- bank account. his next company put him the equivalent of 2.4 million in debt. they started off incredibly well. they published memoirs some enormous success, and huckleberry finn, and twain expected to pay himself fat royalties, and wound up receive nothing royalties.
this is their final list of titles, and i don't know if you can see from there but any publisher that is going to good out with stories from the rabbis, is probably going to be in a little trouble. so, headlines. deeply humiliating. headlines said mark twain failed. it was brutal. no joke. failure of mark twain. failure of humorist, and he is this literary super star, deeply embarrassed and gets two main advisers for his bankruptcy. one is henry huddleston rogers, hh. one of the wealthiest men in america. the right-hand man to john d. rockefeller, standard oil, federal steel. his nickname was hell hound, and this robber baron wants to play hard ball with the creditors and offer ten cent's then dollar. twain's other adviser is his wife, libby. she has absolutely no business experience.
she writes, i want the creditors to know we have theirs' at heart, much, much more than our own. libby -- we have some bankruptcy experts in the crowd here. libby wanted to pay them in full as soon as possible. word of advice, never bet against the wife. twain agreed to pay everyone back in full. and so he needs to make big money fast. and his books are not selling. the most recent title was the american claimant. not exactly a huge seller. so the quickest way for him to may money is to go out on a standup comedy tour, and he absolutely from the bottom of his heart different not want to good. it's a little known fact that mark twain dreaded public speaking in front of large audiences but wasn't so much stage fright as humiliation fright. he did not want to play the clown. he thought of himself as a literary author.
and he said to a friend that once an audience sees you stand on your head they'll expect you to remain in that position forever. >> you can watch this and other programs online at become of the.org. -- booktv.org. >> we'll have a become signing right here at this table health copies of -- thank you for buying books here. your purchases support this series and ensure the future of an independent book store so thank you very much for that. we're pleased to have c-span's book of the here taping today's event. ...