The Holocaust and the Law


This course explores the pursuit of justice after the Holocaust. We will study legal responses to the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Jews from 1945 to the 1960s through the lens of pivotal post-Holocaust trials, including the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Trial, conducted by the US, the UK, the USSR, and France in Nuremberg; the 1961 Eichmann Trial, conducted by the Israelis in Jerusalem; and the 1963-1965 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, conducted by the Germans. We will further study recent German attempts to adapt the German legal system to try the last living perpetrators of the Holocaust. We will also discuss how Jewish survivors of the Holocaust helped to bring Nazis and their collaborators before the bar of justice. Mindful of the postwar historical context, we will pose the question whether these trials and others served justice on the perpetrators and delivered justice to not only the victims but also history and memory.  In this vein, we will ask how the pursuit of legal justice after the Holocaust affects our understanding of the legal process.


Requirements for this course will include two short response papers and a 15-page research paper. The final grade will be determined on the basis of the written assignments, with substantial weight given to the research paper, and class participation.


Books for this course may include Lawrence Douglas, The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in Trials of the Holocaust; Michael Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, 1945-46; Deborah Lipstadt, The Eichmann Trial; Devin Pendas, The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965; Lawrence Douglas, The Right Wrong Man: John Demjanjuk and the Last Great Nazi War Crimes Trial; and Laura Jockusch and Gabriel Finder, eds. Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust.


This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts