ON TRIAL AT NUREMBERG by Airey Neave

ON TRIAL AT NUREMBERG

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is one of the freshest books to be written on this subject in years, and despite the author's evident unhappiness with the dispassionate tone of Bradley F. Smith's Reaching Judgment at Nuremberg (1977), he has provided an eyewitness complement to Smith's scholarly analysis of the documents. Neave is now a Member of Parliament for Northern Ireland; in World War II he was instrumental in organizing underground resistance throughout Europe (having himself escaped from the prison camp at Colditz) and because of his fluency in German, he was chosen as a member of the British War Crimes Executive Team at Nuremberg. In this position he was first in charge of gathering evidence against the Krupps, and he vividly describes the outrages both to morality and to taste that he found at the family's huge mansion. Later it was his job to serve the indictments on the 24 defendants at Nuremberg: in several chapters the reader follows Neave into the prisoners' cell, and besides an objective account of each Nazi's background, the reader receives a candid assessment of Neave's own reaction when face to face with the criminals against humanity. Interestingly, only one prisoner moves Neave to sympathy: Sauckel, whose execution for organizing slave labor seems unquestionably harsh in comparison to the prison sentence meted out to Speer, a man whose apparent disenchantment with Nazism leaves Neave absolutely cold. The cameo portraits of the judges, the description of the trial, and Neave's own further work in the prosecution of Nazi organizations, devastatingly reveal the Nazis for what they were, and this is in large measure the author's purpose. In the end, Neave provides us with a bluntly decent justification for the trials. Like Smith, he believes that Nuremberg had to happen, that it was the best that could be done, and concludes that the judges were astonishingly impartial, truly bent on achieving justice, in the midst of public clamor for revenge. To those who raise the cries of ""victor's justice,"" Neave answers that neither the Russians, who lost 20 million, nor the citizens of east and central Europe, who knew similar devastation, have ever made such an argument. Finally, he makes the point that without Nuremberg the damning evidence against the SS might never have been gathered.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1978
Publisher: Little, Brown