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Genocide on TrialWar Crimes Trials and the Formation of Holocaust History and Memory$
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Donald Bloxham

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208723.001.0001

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The Limits of the Legal Imagination: Plumbing the Depths of Nazi Criminality

The Limits of the Legal Imagination: Plumbing the Depths of Nazi Criminality

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter Three The Limits of the Legal Imagination: Plumbing the Depths of Nazi Criminality
Source:
Genocide on Trial
Author(s):

Donald Bloxham (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208723.003.0004

This chapter considers the role of the early trials in the formation of the representation of the Nazi camps in the earliest and most widely publicized war crimes trials. It focuses on the IMT and the ‘Belsen’ cases, and to a lesser extent, on the first Dachau trial. As a consequence both of their timing and their subject-matter, and in Germany in part as a result of the Allied control of the news media, these three commanded the most widespread attention of any trials of the period. The chapter culminates in an examination of what was effectively a non-representation at the trials: that of the Polish extermination centres of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. Besides the IMT trial, it brings in consideration of the first and fourth of the subsequent Nuremberg proceedings. These were, respectively, the Medical trial and the Pohl trial against members of the SS Business Administration Head Office, the organization that administered the concentration camps from March 1942 onwards. The chapter shows how the trials avoided consideration of the clearest signifier of Nazi genocidal antisemitism. Trial policy was implicated in the process of conflation and homogenization that characterized occupation policy as a whole and that created the enduring camp trope. This process was one that would have wide-ranging ramifications in a world where victimhood was fast becoming ready political currency.

Keywords:   Nazi camps, war crimes, Dachau trial, Belsen, International Military Tribunal

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