Making History in the Courtroom From the Soviet Show Trials to the Khmer Rouge Trials. Making History in the Courtroom From the Soviet Show Trials to the Khmer Rouge Trials. International Conference, The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, September 16 § 17, 2010
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The Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law,
New York, September 16 § 17, 2010
Organization : Christian Delage & Peter Goodrich
with the cooperation of Michelle Feldman, Ariane Mathieu and Esther Nguonly
This Conference is sponsored by
the Cardozo School of Law (New York)
with the participation of the Institut d’histoire du temps présent (CNRS, Paris)
Christian Delage, Peter Goodrich
In 1945, the International Military Tribunal opened the case against 22 Nazi officers and leaders accused of conspiracy and war crimes. At that time, the victims of these crimes were not welcomed as witnesses and were generally not given an opportunity to offer testimony in either oral or written form. Their experiences were too recent and vivid to form part of the legal record, and at the same time it must be noted that historians had not yet begun to write the history of the Third Reich and of the genocide of the Jews.
Eventually, however, the evidence collected by the prosecution became an essential archive and the focus of considerable historical research. The trial was to become a pivotal moment in the process of remembering and then the writing of the history of the war. Even more significant, the legacy of the Nuremberg trials has been that of rendering a new standard of justice in the aftermath of war crimes, genocide, and other atrocities. International courts have multiplied war crime trials, as well as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, have had a large impact on international awareness of and commitment to bringing perpetrators to account in South Africa, the former Yugoslavia, the Rwanda, and Cambodia.
Christian Delage, Peter Goodrich
The most recent war crimes trials are those that have been under way in Cambodia since February, 2009. The Khmer Rouge Trials are a novelty in that these proceedings are taking place after the history of the genocidal regime has been written, the archives collected, the witnesses interviewed, the dead buried and even forgotten by the current generation. The question to be posed in this new context is what is the significance of these trials on Cambodian society? What are the effect of a rather precarious yet highly visible judicial process thirty years after the crimes have been committed?
The conference will address the interaction of memory, history, trials and tribunals. The focus of the papers, given by leading international lawyers and historians, will be that of the role trials play in the development of public opinion, the cultivation of longer term social memory and the impact upon the writing of history. There will be a special focus on the symbolic value and international visibility of these trials, manifested most obviously in the filming of the procedings as well as in the use of video and film as evidence.
Show Trials and the Denial of Justice
The Making of the Raion Show Trials in the USSR, 1937-1938.
China and The Trial of the “Gang of the Four”, 1980.
Moderation:Eli ZARETSKY (History, New School for Social
Research, New York)
Defendants without Defense, and Under the Gaze of the Camera.
The “People’s Court” in Nazi Germany.
The Filmed Trial of Majdanek’s Extermination Camp: Kazimierz Czynski’s
Swastyka i Szubienica (1945).
Moderation:Michel ROSENFELD (Cardozo Law School)
The Crimes of the Khmer Rouge:
Images of the Prison S-21 as Evidence.
Toward a History of Photography and the Cambodian Genocide.
The Vietnamese Army Entering and Filming the S-21 Prisonin 1979.
S-21 as a Museum of Images.
Moderation:Esther NGUONLY (Cardozo School of Law)
Recapturing Memory and Justice through Film.
The Film Footage of the Nuremberg Trials and the Production of
Nuremberg, The Nazis Facing their Crimes.
Claude Lanzmann and the Writing of Shoah.
Moderation:Vincent GUIGUENO (History, École des Ponts, Paris)
War Crimes Trials: Getting the Past Right -- or the Future?
New Foundations for the Law, 1945-1950.
Historical Narratives in Competition: the Case of the Papon Trial.
Touvier, Papon, and the Corruptions of Memory.
Moderation:Alice KAPLAN (French, Yale University)
International or local Justice?
Building the Official Narrative: The UN Tribunals for the Former
Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
Rwanda and Local Justice: the Gacaca.
Moderation:Christian BIET (Theater, Nanterre & NYU)
Pleading Guilty: The Case of Duch in the Khmer Rouge Trials.
Chambers in the Court of Cambodia, ECCC)
Duch at the ECCC):
Moderation:Peter MAGUIRE(Law, Bard University)
Conclusion of the Conference
In parallel to the symposium,
a series of three special screenings are scheduled at the
1. Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985)
2. Rithy Panh’s S-21 The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (2003)
3. Christian Delage’s Nuremberg. The Nazis Facing their Crimes (2006)