COURTS OF TERROR: Soviet Criminal Justice and Jewish Emigration by Telford Taylor

COURTS OF TERROR: Soviet Criminal Justice and Jewish Emigration

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Telford Taylor was the assistant prosecutor for the US at the Nuremberg trials in 1946; his Soviet counterpart, General Roman Rodenko, is now procurator general of the USSR. Because of their personal friendship and past professional collaboration, Taylor was requested by a number of American Jewish individuals and organizations to intercede on behalf of Soviet Jews imprisoned for their intention to emigrate to Israel. Taylor's activity, he dispassionately notes, proceeded in a context of US-USSR struggles over East-West trade and challenges to dÉtente in general, and Taylor adds that he conducted his defense attempts in full cooperation with the State Department. The cases themselves ranged from Soviet Jews accused of crimes to those who sought personal exit, not civil rights. Taylor wrote nearly 100 briefs to overturn convictions, gain executive clemency, or safeguard prisoners' rights; Jewish prisoners were reportedly mistreated by the Nazi collaborators who composed the majority of work-camp inmates. Apart from a certain publicity punch, Taylor at most seems to have aided the release of one carpenter from a Moslem province. Rodenko was very cordial but apparently never took the business seriously. For his part, Taylor writes not a work of advocacy, but a matter-of-fact record whose extensive appendices include legal briefs, affidavits, and extracts from Soviet law.

Pub Date: April 7th, 1976
Publisher: Knopf