The Nuremberg Trial by R.W. Cooper

September 2018

Roughly the first half of this book (published in 1947 and written by a journalist who sat through the first Nuremberg Trial) is a fairly detailed description of Germany’s conspiracy to start World War II - which was interesting, if somewhat dense and convoluted. The second half of the book addresses the equally dense and convoluted cases of some of the individual defendants and how they did (or did not) manage to avoid being hanged. And in the middle of the book is a very short chapter entitled “The Nuremberg Scene,” which is perfect. In just seven pages, Cooper captures the atmosphere in the courtroom (“academic and aloof - even a little unreal as the months slipped by and we read of the march of events in the outside world”) and the “general Nuremberg scene” (“you had the feeling that anything could happen in a mounting wave of hysteria, which seemed deliberately to shut out everything to do with the trial or the outside world and simply to let things rip”). He even dedicates several paragraphs to the “all-embracing translating system” in the courtroom, to the complexities of dealing with four different languages at once, and to the literal mountains of paper that were produced (“the official transcript alone accounted for more than twenty million mimeographed sheets”). “Nuremberg, as it were, resolutely turned the key on a world still in the melting-pot and calmly ignored, as it must, the inevitable relation between past and present.”

Further reading…