The Mauthausen Trial

Publié le par Tomaz Jardim

Shortly after 9:00 a.m. on May 27, 1947, the first of forty-nine men condemned to death for war crimes at Mauthausen concentration camp mounted the gallows at Landsberg prison near Munich. The mass execution that followed resulted from an American military trial conducted at Dachau in the spring of 1946—a trial that lasted only thirty-six days and yet produced more death sentences than any other in American history. The Mauthausen trial was part of a massive series of proceedings designed to judge and punish Nazi war criminals in the most expedient manner the law would allow. There was no doubt that the crimes had been monstrous.

Yet despite meting out punishment to a group of incontestably guilty men, the Mauthausen trial reveals a troubling and seldom-recognized face of American postwar justice—one characterized by rapid proceedings, lax rules of evidence, and questionable interrogations. Although the better-known Nuremberg trials are often regarded as epitomizing American judicial ideals, these trials were in fact the exception to the rule. Instead, as Tomaz Jardim convincingly demonstrates, the rough justice of the Mauthausen trial remains indicative of the most common—and yet least understood—American approach to war crimes prosecution. The Mauthausen Trial forces reflection on the implications of compromising legal standards in order to guarantee that guilty people do not walk free.

The Mauthausen Trial by Tomaz Jardim
The Mauthausen Trial by Tomaz Jardim

The Mauthausen Trial by Tomaz Jardim

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  • Title : The Mauthausen Trial
  • Author : Tomaz Jardim
  • ISBN-13 : 9780674061576
  • Publisher : Harvard University Press
  • Publication date : 02/01/2012

Editorial Reviews


The Mauthausen Trial is both historically engaging and instructive in the post-9/l1 attempts to bring Islamic terrorists to justice...Jardim explores one of the most notorious yet little known U.S. Army military commission trials of WW II. Held at Camp Dachau near Munich, the 61 Mauthausen defendants were variously involved in alleged war crimes that occurred at the main Mauthausen compound and at several nearby subcamps a short distance from Adolf Hitler's boyhood home at Linz, Austria. The military prosecution relied primarily on survivor testimony coupled with what would later be characterized as "questionable" pre-trial investigative techniques. Jardim details the legal antinomies of the case as well as the political-diplomatic imbroglio that ultimately closed down the U.S. war crime trial program in occupied Germany in the late 1940s. — J. C. Watkins

Literary Review of Canada

[A] fine book on the workings of U.S. military justice in a single Nazi concentration camp in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Jardim...has relied on newly declassified primary sources--trial transcripts, interviews with some of the surviving participants, investigators' reports and at least one memoir--to tell a previously unknown story. He has intricately structured his book on two levels: the first, a powerful account of a problematic war crimes trial hastily put in place by the U.S. military; the second, a cautionary tale concerning the nature of justice itself. — Erna Paris

Fewer Reviews

Library Journal

Jardim (history, Ryerson Univ., Toronto) presents a careful study of the Mauthausen trial, conducted by U.S. Army commission courts after World War II on the grounds of former German concentration camp Dachau, outside Munich. Using the original trial transcript, investigative records, and interviews with participants, Jardim develops his argument in five substantial chapters. He begins with an explanation of the U.S. military's background in war crimes prosecution, followed by a brief history of Mauthausen concentration camp, near Linz, Austria. Next he explores the conduct of the trial, including legally questionable strategies used by the prosecution and defense, especially the "common design" charge and the efficiency of the "parent trial" system. While scholarship on the Mauthausen trial remains scant, Jardim provides a critical perspective on American postwar justice relevant to current debates concerning the most effective ways to address international war crimes in the courtroom. VERDICT A convincing case for the important legacy of the often overlooked Mauthausen trial, this book is an exciting read, skillfully written, with a high level of research, but accessible for those unfamiliar with the topic. Recommended for readers interested in war crimes, international courts, Nazism, and the aftermath of World War II.— Rebekah Wallin, Paris, France

Publié dans Bibliothèque

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