What irony! Herbert C. Pell, crimes against humanity, and the negro problem / by Graham Cox.
From the moment Adolf Hitler took control in Germany, and throughout the 1930s, African American leaders asked black masses to observe what was taking place outside the United States and apply the lessons at home. As it became increasingly apparent that the United States would become involved in the war in Europe, the Roosevelt administration turned to using the evil of Nazi racism – how blacks might fare in a Nazi dominated world if the Allies were to lose – to promote unity and the necessity of maintaining the social order in America. The strain of a segregated nation ramping up for war, instead, exacerbated domestic racial violence.Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the administration undertook an all-out effort to mobilize Americans behind Allied war aims, which included the defense of liberty and the preservation of human rights and justice everywhere. With the War Department maintaining military segregation to prevent racial conflict, African Americans met such wartime admonitions for unity with studied contempt. To American blacks, segregation was the root cause of all race problems and anathema to Allied war aims.The Allied announcement that they would bring Axis war criminals to justice in a postwar trial for all their crimes, including those based upon racial persecution, offered the most promise for ameliorating the evil of racism across the globe. Throughout 1944, the Allied effort to bring war criminals to justice centered on the United Nations War Crimes Commission, but unknown to the public, a battle raged within the Roosevelt administration over war crimes planning. In the summer of 1945, the Allied Powers signed the London Charter and Agreement, establishing the International Military Tribunal for the prosecution of the major Axis war criminals The trial began in Nuremberg, Germany, three months later.Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief prosecutor for the United States, hoped the trial would focus international society on what he considered the larger crime, aggressive warfare. Crimes against humanity, in this view, was both fundamental ingredient and consequent symptom of a larger conspiracy to commit an illegal war seeking global domination. But Nazi atrocities – literally, the deaths of millions of innocent human beings in Nazi extermination camps throughout Europe – were so unprecedented, so abhorrent, that the world remembers little else about the trial. For most, the trial has become a symbol of justice, an historical event at which international society stood up for the world's minorities and said, no more.The United States played the decisive role in bringing Nazi war criminals to justice. In doing so, American representatives struggled to overcome the dilemma of how to seek justice for Nazi crimes based upon political, religious, and particularly racial persecution, and, at the same time, protect and maintain America's domestic system of racial persecution. United States' representatives were successful in creating a legal protocol that declared such persecutions as crimes only when committed as part of aggressive war. As a result, Nuremberg failed to extend justice to persecuted minorities in America and across the globe. "WHAT IRONY! Herbert C. Pell, Crimes Against Humanity, and the Negro Problem" recounts this tragedy and argues that Nuremberg serves as another example of American exceptionalism and a betrayal of the very values and ideals for which the nation claimed to have fought the Second World War.
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