Nuremberg Sensibility: Telford Taylor's Memoir of the Nuremberg Trials

12 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2009

See all articles by Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson

American University - Washington College of Law

Date Written: March 1, 1994


This brief 1994 book review essay (5500 words) examines Telford Taylor's memoir, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials (1992). The review is a personal one, set against two things - the author's work, while reading Taylor's memoir, in Iraq for Human Rights Watch leading a forensic team excavating Kurdish victims of the 1988 al-Anfal campaign, and the diplomatic discussions leading to the formation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia. The essay argues that the Nuremberg trials, according to Taylor, had a certain deflationary emotional affect - deliberately ratcheting down the emotions of what had occurred to the limited world of the courtroom. It was able to do that because the WWII allies had been willing to pay the price of victory and had 'earned' the right to conduct a trial. The Yugoslavia tribunal, by contrast, and at that time, was premised on a claim to universal justice that did not depend upon the willingness of its sponsors to intervene in the slaughter in the former Yugoslavia. "Nuremberg was a lovely hood ornament," said one of the author's unnamed sources, a senior European military judge advocate, "on the ungainly vehicle that liberated Western Europe, but it was not a substitute for D-Day."

Keywords: Nuremberg, Telford Taylor, war crimes, genocide, international tribunals, ICTY, Al Anfal, Human Rights Watch, Kurdistan, Iraq

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Anderson, Kenneth, Nuremberg Sensibility: Telford Taylor's Memoir of the Nuremberg Trials (March 1, 1994). Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1994. Available at SSRN:

Kenneth Anderson (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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