Harvard Law School library announces expansion of Nuremberg Trials Project

 							 					The Harvard Law School Library has announced the expansion of the Nuremberg Trials Project, a digital collection of documents relating to the trials of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany by the International Military Tribunal and also the trials of other accused war criminals by the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals.

The Nuremberg Trials Project, designed to preserve the contents of trial documents, is an open access digital collection, with all material freely available to scholars, teachers, students, lawyers, judges, and anyone in the general public interested in studying war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the Nuremberg tribunals.

Since the project was launched in 2003, it has more than doubled in size to now include more than 32,000 pages of documentation related to the historic trials.

The documents, which include trial transcripts, briefs, document books, evidence files, and other papers, have been studied by lawyers, scholars, and other researchers in the areas of history, ethics, genocide, and war crimes, and are of particular interest to officials and students of current international tribunals involving war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Nuremberg Trials Project now includes:

  • Nuremberg Military Tribunal 1 (NMT 1): U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al., known as the Medical Case or the Doctors’ Trial
  • Nuremberg Military Tribunal 2 (NMT 2): U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch
  • Nuremberg Military Tribunal 4 (NMT 4): U.S.A. v. Oswald Pohl et al.

Material for each trial contains detailed document-level descriptions with links to color facsimiles of trial documents and evidence file typescripts. Trial documents are in English; evidence file documents are usually in both English and German.

The HLS Library launched the Nuremberg Trials Project website almost eight years ago, with 6,778 digitized pages of trial documents and evidence file documents for NMT 1, the Medical Case. NMT 1 also includes a searchable transcript. In 2005, the Library added 7,126 digitized pages to the site, completing NMT 1 and beginning NMT 2 and NMT 4. In 2011, the HLS Library digitized 18,583 pages of trial documents and evidence files for NMT 2 and NMT 4. With these additions, the project site now contains 32,511 pages.

The Nuremberg Trials Project database contains records providing up to 12 descriptive fields for each of the 5,842 trial document and evidence file documents for NMT 1, NMT 2, and NMT 4. Users may search the collection by document title, author, defendant, evidence code number, exhibit number, date, transcript page number, and other fields.

The Collection

The HLS Library holds 690 boxes containing approximately one million pages of documents from 13 Nuremberg trials: the 1945-1946 trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT); and the 12 trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT) from 1946 to 1949.

Now stabilized in cool storage, the collection’s typescripts and photostats are very fragile and require careful handling. To preserve the remaining un-digitized material, access to the originals is restricted. However, the Nuremberg Trials Project extends access to the collection to anyone with an internet connection.

The Newly Digitized Trials

In NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), Erhard Milch was indicted on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for mistreatment of civilians and prisoners of war as slave laborers; medical experiments (high altitude and freezing) on concentration camp inmates; and medical experiments on German nationals and citizens of other countries. The prosecution presented 161 written exhibits and 3 witnesses. The defense presented 51 written exhibits, 30 witnesses, and testimony by Milch himself. The tribunal called one witness. The tribunal took place in 1946-1947.

In NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), Chief of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (Wirtschafts und Verwaltungshauptant,  WVHA), Oswald Pohl and seventeen other WVHA official were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, and membership in a criminal organization. Specific charges included: deportation of foreign nationals and plundering of their property; exploitation of inmates as laborers; medical experiments conducted on prisoners; euthanasia and sterilization; and extermination of Jews. The crimes occurred between 1942 and 1945 in WVHA-managed  concentration camps and labor camps of the SS, where up to ten million individuals were imprisoned. The tribunal took place in 1947.

Funding for Digitization

The Kenneth & Evelyn Lipper Foundation provided seed funding to digitize NMT 1 (the Medical Case), and to build the pilot database and website for the Nuremberg Trials Project. Kenneth Lipper graduated from Harvard Law School in 1965.

The HLS Library now seeks additional funding to digitize documents from the remaining nine NMT trials, which are now too fragile to be handled, and to provide full-text access to all documents in the Nuremberg Trials Project digital collection.