The Rest of the Storey: SMU’s Ties to Nuremberg & More

Nazi defendants listen to U.S. prosecutors, including former SMU Law Dean Robert Storey, during the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany. [Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS]

Most people know the Nuremberg Trials held high-ranking Nazis accountable for heinous World War II crimes. But few knew SMU’s connection to “the greatest trial in history” until Dedman School of Law hosted two events Oct. 24 to commemorate the Trials’ 70th anniversary.

At the first event, “The Nuremberg Tribunals’ Legacy: SMU’s Role in Seeking Justice,
Then & Now,”
 legal and human rights scholars highlighted the unique fact that
four former SMU law professors – Robert Storey, Whitney Harris, Walter Brudno and Jan Charmatz – prosecuted high-profile Nuremberg cases ranging from crimes committed by the Nazi secret police to the Third Reich’s looting of priceless European art.

“For SMU to have had only one professor involved in the Nuremberg Trials would be a badge of honor. But to have
had four? That’s extraordinary.”
– Dedman Law Prof. Chris Jenks, director of SMU’s Criminal Justice Clinic and expert in the law of armed conflict.

Following the Trials – which laid the foundation for international and human rights law – U.S. Army Col. Storey, a native Texan, joined SMU as law dean in 1947.

“Dean Storey returned from Nuremberg realizing American lawyers didn’t know that much about international law.
He also wanted to create a world that would never need
another Nuremberg.”
Michael Marchand, president of The Center for American
& International Law
 (CAIL), for which Storey was founding president from 1947–1972.

Storey set out to make the school “an international law center.” He also created a ground-breaking clinics program, inspired in part to help the large number of émigrés to the U.S. who had been displaced by the devastating war.

Dedman Law’s innovative clinics now comprise nearly a dozen civil and criminal law programs that have helped more than 20,000 people with no-cost or low-cost legal aid – while also providing law students with valuable training.

The evening event, “The Nuremberg Trials: 70 Years Later,” showcased rare items Storey collected as Nuremberg’s executive trial counsel (the right hand of lead prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson): A copy of German chancellor
Adolf Hitler’s marriage certificate; a scrapbook of family photos belonging to virulently anti-Semitic Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher; and documents shedding light on the unprecedented series of trials known officially as the International Military Tribunal.

“Based in Paris, Storey oversaw the collection of reams of evidence, which provided the smoking gun for the Trials – one in many ways that was led by the Americans.” The U.S.-led delegation employed more than 600 people, compared to 168 who worked for the British and less than half that number who worked for the French and Soviets combined.
– St. John’s University law professor/historian John Q. Barrett, board member of the Robert H. Jackson Center

[Question]
Why did the Germans have so much documentation related to their crimes?”
 Moderator/KERA host Lee Cullum
[Answer]
“They thought they were recording their greatness for the Thousand Year-Reich.”
– Panelist John Q. Barrett

“The world united by the Nuremberg Trials ran aground on the shores of Cold War politics.”
 Lelia Sadat, Washington University School of Law’s James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and International Criminal Court Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity.

“The U.N. was not created to take mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell.” — Panelist Sadatquoting former U.N.
Sec. Gen. Dag Hammarskjöld.

[Question]
“What are the leading challenges to world peace?”
– moderator/KERA host Lee Cullum
[Answer]
• “We’re battling people who don’t follow the established laws of armed conflict – people to whom the Geneva Conventions seem quaint.”
• “After 9/11, America went down a very dark road. Our moral stature for calling out others for torture has now come into question, and we’re paying a terrible price for that.”
• “The rise of social media has a tsunami of data coming at us – a million terabytes a day. But 99.9% of it is worthless in a court of law, since finding and verifying the sources is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Syracuse University College of Law Prof. David Crane, chief prosecutor of the war crimes trial of Charles Taylor, convicted for the deaths of 1.2 million West Africans.

“We’re proud of Dean Storey’s work, which we endeavor to continue through our scholarship, course offerings, amazing externships, trips and events. Ultimately, though, it’s our SMU students and graduates who, through their efforts in human rights and international criminal law, not only will continue Storey’s work, but also inspire the next generation of leaders.”
– Dedman Law Prof. Jenks

About Denise Gee

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