Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Douglas on a Nazi War Crimes Trial

Lawrence Douglas, Amherst College, published The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial with Princeton University Press in 2016. From the press:
In 2009, Harper's Magazine sent war-crimes expert Lawrence Douglas to Munich to cover the last chapter of the lengthiest case ever to arise from the Holocaust: the trial of eighty-nine-year-old John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk’s legal odyssey began in 1975, when American investigators received evidence alleging that the Cleveland autoworker and naturalized US citizen had collaborated in Nazi genocide. In the years that followed, Demjanjuk was stripped of his American citizenship and sentenced to death by a Jerusalem court as "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka—only to be cleared in one of the most notorious cases of mistaken identity in legal history. Finally, in 2011, after eighteen months of trial, a court in Munich convicted the native Ukrainian of assisting Hitler’s SS in the murder of 28,060 Jews at Sobibor, a death camp in eastern Poland. 
An award-winning novelist as well as legal scholar, Douglas offers a compulsively readable history of Demjanjuk’s bizarre case. The Right Wrong Man is both a gripping eyewitness account of the last major Holocaust trial to galvanize world attention and a vital meditation on the law’s effort to bring legal closure to the most horrific chapter in modern history.
Praise for the book:

"Douglas relates with authority and clarity the story of these complex legal processes. . . . [He] does justice to both the story's factual complexities and its moral and political conundrums. . . . The Right Wrong Man, from its summary title to its thoughtful postscript, is an impressive work, as well as a timely one in its demonstration of the power of legal systems to learn from past missteps." -Anthony Julius

"The Right Wrong Man is powerful, richly observed, and darkly entertaining. Anyone interested in postwar history will want to read it." -Elizabeth Kolbert

"Lawrence Douglas has once again provided us with a history-laden and provocative analysis of Holocaust trials. His riveting study of the Demjanjuk saga is of importance, not just to historians and jurists, but to all those who wonder how can justice ever prevail when the crime being adjudicated is genocide." -Deborah E. Lipstadt
Further information is available here.