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Telford Taylor and the Precedent of the Nuremberg Trials

Archivist Christopher M. Laico shares the significance of the Telford Taylor Papers as the collection relates to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 139; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

DATELINE: Washington, DC, 9 May 1949. In a statement to the International News Service, U.S. Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor announced the official end of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Taylor declared: “I venture to predict that as time goes on we will hear more about Nuremberg rather than less, and that in a very real sense the conclusion of the trials marks the beginning, and not the end, of Nuremberg as a force in politics, law and morals. . . . It is a precedent which will be welcomed by all who believe that peace and human dignity will find their surest guarantee in the establishment of ‘world order under the rule of law.’ ”

This Saturday, January 27th marks the internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As we remember the victims of the Shoah , we gain solace in Telford Taylor’s fulfilled prophecy that the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials has become a force in international politics, law and morals.

SS Major General Otto Ohlendorf and SS Brigadier General Heinz Jost (front to rear), two principal German defendants of the Einsatzgruppen “commandoes” trial in Nuernberg, in the dock preparing their final pleas during a court recess.Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 113; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Educating ourselves about the historical events associated with the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust also plays an integral role in coming to terms with its horrible memories. The Telford Taylor Papers provide one such important educational tool. In the Papers, scholars from many disciplines will find the papers a rich primary source for the International Military Tribunal (1945-46) and the Nuremberg Military Trials (1946-49). Beyond the trial transcripts, correspondence, speeches and writings will enable students and academics to trace the fifty-year development of Taylor’s nuanced conception of the Nuremberg Trials and their historical importance as he witnessed such events as the Adolf Eichmann trial and the Vietnam War.

Dr. Leo Alexander, Boston psychiatrist and neurologist, called to witness stand along with witness Jadwiga Dzido of Warsaw, Poland. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 213, Folder 79; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

In conclusion, the Telford Taylor Papers represent an integral part of the Columbia University Libraries archival mission – to foster the global exchange of ideas, to promote world class scholarship, and to train highly skilled human rights advocates. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, therefore, we as citizen advocates honor the victims of the Shoah by recommitting ourselves to the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials and guaranteeing the peace and human dignity of all persons through a world order established under the rule of law.

12/3 @ 6:00 PM, Butler 523 – The Book History Colloquium: How Radical was Joseph Johnson and Why Does Radicalism Matter? with John Bugg, Associate Prof. of English, Fordham University

JohnsonJoseph Johnson

Romantic-era publisher Joseph Johnson (1738-1809) was the dynamic center of the London dissenting community and is best known today for his work with politically progressive writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, William Blake, Charlotte Smith, and Erasmus Darwin. But Johnson also published “conservative” writers such as Thomas Malthus. In this talk, John Bugg analyzes the larger contours of Johnson’s extensive publication catalog (over 4,000 titles) and asks what it means for us to think about a publisher (rather than a writer) as “radical.”

John Bugg is an Associate Professor of English at Fordham University where he teaches British Romanticism, legal and political history, and Romantic-era print culture. He is the author of Five Long Winters: The Trials of British Romanticism (Stanford University Press, 2014), which examines the relations between literary culture and political repression at the end of the eighteenth century. His critical edition of the correspondence of Joseph Johnson will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016.


The Book History Colloquium at Columbia University, open to any discipline, aims to provide a broad outlet for the scholarly discussion of book history, print culture, the book arts, and bibliographical research, and (ideally) the promotion of research and publication in these fields. Our presenters include Columbia faculty members and advanced graduate students, and scholars of national prominence from a range of institutions.

All sessions take place at 6:00 PM in 523 Butler Library, Columbia Morningside Campus, unless otherwise noted.

Questions? Email Karla Nielsen.