Human Rights after Hitler

  • From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

Oper­at­ing between 1943 and 1948, the Unit­ed Nations War Crimes Com­mis­sion (UNWCC) was tasked with the goal of iden­ti­fy­ing clas­si­fy­ing and per­se­cut­ing Axis war crim­i­nals in Europe and East Asia. They did so with aston­ish­ing suc­cess assist­ing in more than 36 000 cas­es and con­vict­ing hun­dreds. Yet in 1949 the US gov­ern­ment shut the UNWCC down and locked their work away from the pub­lic eye. Author Dan Plesch lob­bied for years to gain access to the UNWCC files. His ground­break­ing new book, Human Rights After Hitler, reveals what was hid­den: in part legal­ly-cer­ti­fied doc­u­ments gov­ern­ment tran­scripts and inter­views with vic­tims of tor­ture that prove beyond doubt that the UK and US gov­ern­ments were told about Hitler’s exter­mi­na­tion camps in the ear­ly years of the war. The UNWCC files also con­tain US and Allied pros­e­cu­tions of tor­ture includ­ing water treat­ment,” wartime sex­u­al assault, and crimes by foot sol­diers who were just fol­low­ing orders.” These lost prece­dents set by UNWCC cas­es have enor­mous prac­ti­cal util­i­ty for pros­e­cut­ing war crimes and pro­vide much-need­ed rein­force­ment for human rights efforts today.

Discussion Questions