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CHGS

"Law and Democracy: The Paradoxes of Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1950."

"Law and Democracy: The Paradoxes of Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1950."

Devin Pendas, Associate Professor and director of graduate studies, Boston College

Wednesday, April 4
4:30p.m.
Room 1210
Heller Hall

Wednesday, April 4
4:30p.m.
Room 1210
Heller Hall

The effort at transitional justice in Germany after World War II was one of the largest and most systematic ever undertaken. Among the least known aspects of that effort were the thousands of prosecutions for Nazi crimes undertaken by the Germans themselves in the immediate aftermath of the war.

Shaped by the context of military occupation and the budding Cold War, these German trials had a complex and often surprising impact on the political culture of the two emerging German states. Prosecuting Nazi atrocities actually played an important role in consolidating East Germany's emerging Stalinist dictatorship. And it was West German hostility to prosecuting Nazi crimes that proved crucial to its eventual democratic success.

Devin Pendas is Associate Professor and director of graduate studies at the Boston College Department of History. Professor Pendas also holds a position as a faculty affiliate and co-chair of the German Study Group at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. His fields of interest include German history, modern Europe, legal history, and the history of mass violence and war.

His research centers on war crimes trials after World War II, particularly on German Holocaust trials, and he is interested in the comparative and transnational dimensions of genocide. Pendas' 2005 book, The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965: Genocide, History and the Limits of the Law, provides a comprehensive history ofthe largest, most public, and most important trial of Holocaust perpetrators conducted in West German courts, addressing both the inadequacy of the trials and the public's divided response.

He has received research fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service, the MacArthur Foundation, the Center for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, Germany, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and the American Council of Learned Societies (Burkhardt Fellowship).

Presented by: The Department of History, the Department of Sociology and the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.