How the American High Commissioner for Germany set in motion a process that resulted in every non-death-row-inmate walking free after the Nuremberg trials
After Nuremberg is about the fleeting nature of American punishment for German war criminals convicted at the twelve Nuremberg trials of 1946–1949. Because of repeated American grants of clemency and parole, ninety-seven of the 142 Germans convicted at the Nuremberg trials, many of them major offenders, regained their freedom years, sometimes decades, ahead of schedule. High-ranking Nazi plunderers, kidnappers, slave laborers, and mass murderers all walked free by 1958. High Commissioner for Occupied Germany John J. McCloy and his successors articulated a vision of impartial American justice as inspiring and legitimizing their actions, as they concluded that German war criminals were entitled to all the remedies American laws offered to better their conditions and reduce their sentences.
Based on extensive archival research (including newly declassified material), this book explains how American policy makers’ best intentions resulted in a series of decisions from 1949–1958 that produced a self-perpetuating bureaucracy of clemency and parole that “rehabilitated” unrepentant German abettors and perpetrators of theft, slavery, and murder while lending salience to the most reactionary elements in West German political discourse.
Robert W. Hutchinson is assistant professor of strategy and security studies at the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. He is the author of German Foreign Intelligence from Hitler’s War to the Cold War: Flawed Assumptions and Faulty Analysis.
2024 Robert E. Dalton Award winner, sponsored by ASIL “In this deeply researched and highly original account, Robert Hutchinson forces us to reconsider our understanding of the American clemency program for convicted war criminals after WWII.”—Devin O. Pendas, Boston College
“Robert Hutchinson’s work is a major reevaluation that scholars of Nazi war crimes and international law will not be able to ignore.”—Norman J. W. Goda, author of Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War
“In this important book, Robert Hutchinson offers new insight and new evidence about the famous events surrounding clemency to Nazi war criminals. It is a work that both scholars and a general public should definitely read.”—Jeffrey C. Herf, University of Maryland
“Essential for anyone interested in the future of international humanitarian law, this book reveals how justice for the victims of Nazi crimes was undermined by those responsible for upholding it.”—Steven P. Remy, author of The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Controversy
“Robert Hutchinson’s magisterial book reminds us that everything is political, justice is never blind, and injustice is most dangerous when it cloaks itself in the robes of the law.”—Robert Citino, National World War II Museum
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