Lynn professor says the Nuremberg Trials showcase civilized society
Published Apr. 18, 2012
The Nuremberg Trials that prosecuted more than 200 Nazi Germany leaders post World War II are a significant part of world history.
“The primary accomplishment of the Nuremberg Trials was to apply the rule of law even in the most extreme circumstances,” said Sindee Kerker, associate professor of criminal justice in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education. She was also a prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for seven years working in the L.A. office during O.J. Simpson’s trial.
“No matter how appalling the crimes of the Nazis were, or however the temptation may be to seek vengeance, the Nuremberg Trials manifested the fundamental principal of a civilized society that the accused is entitled to certain due process rights, including the right to a fair and impartial trial and the right to confront one’s accuser and to question witnesses through an attorney,” said Kerker. “The trial created an historical record of evil so pervasive that it might seem unfathomable, but for the sworn evidence of the trial proceedings.”
In 1998, the League for Educational Awareness of the Holocaust, Inc. (LEAH) donated a set of 42 original volumes of the Nuremberg Trials to the Lynn library. In Kerker’s 300-level Dialogues of Justice and Civic Life course titled, The Nuremberg Trials, she takes her class to the library and uses the books to look up specific defendants and read transcript testimony.
“While all research about the Nuremberg Trials can be done online, there is something to be said about having primary documents in our library,” said Kerker. “Students get to touch, feel and smell all 42 volumes. They have a special connection with history by having these books at their fingertips. We believe that our books at one time belonged to United States Supreme Court Justice and Chief Prosecutor of The Major War Criminals Trial, Robert H. Jackson. Students feel that much closer to history using the original transcripts.”
Kerker, who was born and raised Jewish, says “it is important for students of all ages, as well as adults, to appreciate the horrors of the Holocaust and to appreciate the significance of the Nuremberg Trials so that we can learn from our past and make certain that history does not repeat itself. Sadly, the Holocaust survivors will soon no longer be around, so it is especially important to hear their stories, no matter how painful they are to tell, so that we never forget.”
Project Nuremberg DocuDrama
At 10:30 a.m., on Friday, April 27, in the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center, Lynn’s College of International Communication is screening a docudrama of Project Nuremberg for more than 700 local middle and high school students. The production was adapted directly from the Nuremberg Trials’ transcripts and includes original documentary footage and music score. Kerker will open the presentation with background information on the trials and give the attendees an overview of the five defendants featured in the movie.
More on Kerker
Sindee Kerker, associate professor of criminal justice in Lynn University’s College of Liberal Education and former prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for seven years working in the L.A. Office during O.J. Simpson’s trial, teaches criminal justice and law classes at Lynn. In addition to her 300-level course on the Nuremberg Trials, each October, Kerker is involved with organizing events associated with National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW).
She can speak to the media regarding Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 19, 2012), Jewish traditions, the Nuremberg Trials, the criminal justice system, the U.S. Supreme Court, alcohol on college campuses and the legal and social consequences of driving under the influence (DUI), among other topics.