East West Street: On the Origins of "Genocide" and "Crimes Against Humanity" (Deckle Edge)

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9780385350716: East West Street: On the Origins of

Winner of the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction
Winner of the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize

“A monumental achievement...a profoundly personal account of the origins of crimes against humanity and genocide, told with love, anger and precision.”  –John le Carré 

“A narrative, to my knowledge unprecedented. [It] should not be ignored by anyone in the United States or elsewhere.”   —Bernard-Henri Levy on the front cover of The New York Times Book Review 
 

“Exceptional...has the intrigue, verve and material density of a first-rate thriller.”  The Guardian
 
“Astonishing...An outstanding book...A story of heroes and loss.”  The New Statesman

A profound and profoundly important book—a moving personal detective story, an uncovering of secret pasts, and a book that explores the creation and development of world-changing legal concepts that came about as a result of the unprecedented atrocities of Hitler’s Third Reich.

East West Street
 looks at the personal and intellectual evolution of the two men who simultaneously originated the ideas of “genocide” and “crimes against humanity,” both of whom, not knowing the other, studied at the same university with the same professors, in a city little known today that was a major cultural center of Europe, “the little Paris of Ukraine,” a city variously called Lemberg, Lwów, Lvov, or Lviv.

The book opens with the author being invited to give a lecture on genocide and crimes against humanity at Lviv University. Sands accepted the invitation with the intent of learning about the extraordinary city with its rich cultural and intellectual life, home to his maternal grandfather, a Galician Jew who had been born there a century before and who’d moved to Vienna at the outbreak of the First World War, married, had a child (the author’s mother), and who then had moved to Paris after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. It was a life that had been shrouded in secrecy, with many questions not to be asked and fewer answers offered if they were.

As the author uncovered, clue by clue, the deliberately obscured story of his grandfather’s mysterious life, and of his mother’s journey as a child surviving Nazi occupation, Sands searched further into the history of the city of Lemberg and realized that his own field of humanitarian law had been forged by two men—Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht—each of whom had studied law at Lviv University in the city of his grandfather’s birth, each considered to be the father of the modern human rights movement, and each, at parallel times, forging diametrically opposite, revolutionary concepts of humanitarian law that had changed the world.

In this extraordinary and resonant book, Sands looks at who these two very private men were, and at how and why, coming from similar Jewish backgrounds and the same city, studying at the same university, each developed the theory he did, showing how each man dedicated this period of his life to having his legal concept—“genocide” and “crimes against humanity”—as a centerpiece for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals.

And the author writes of a third man, Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal lawyer, a Nazi from the earliest days who had destroyed so many lives, friend of Richard Strauss, collector of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. Frank oversaw the ghetto in Lemberg in Poland in August 1942, in which the entire large Jewish population of the area had been confined on penalty of death. Frank, who was instrumental in the construction of concentration camps nearby and, weeks after becoming governor general of Nazi-occupied Poland, ordered the transfer of 133,000 men, women, and children to the death camps.

Sands brilliantly writes of how all three men came together, in October 1945 in Nuremberg—Rafael Lemkin; Hersch Lauterpacht; and in the dock at the Palace of Justice, with the twenty other defendants of the Nazi high command, prisoner number 7, Hans Frank, who had overseen the extermination of more than a million Jews of Galicia and Lemberg, among them, the families of the author’s grandfather as well as those of Lemkin and Lauterpacht.

A book that changes the way we look at the world, at our understanding of history and how civilization has tried to cope with mass murder. Powerful; moving; tender; a revelation.

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About the Author:

PHILIPPE SANDS is an international lawyer and a professor of law at University College London. He is the author of Lawless World and Torture Team and is a frequent commentator on CNN and the BBC World Service. Sands lectures around the world and has taught at New York University and been a visiting professor at the University of Toronto, the University of Melbourne, and the Université de Paris I (Sorbonne). In 2003 he was appointed a Queen’s Counsel. He lives in London, England.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Prologue
An Invitation
Tuesday, October 1, 1946,
Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice
 
A little after three o’clock in the afternoon, the wooden door behind the defendant’s dock slid open and Hans Frank entered court- room 600. He wore a gray suit, a shade that was offset by the white helmets worn by the two somber-faced military guards, his escorts. The hearings had taken a toll on the man who had been Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer and then personal representative in German-occupied Poland, with his pink cheeks, sharp little nose, and sleeked-back hair. Frank was no longer the slender and swank minister celebrated by his friend Richard Strauss. Indeed, he was in a considerable state of perturbation, so much so that as he entered the room, he turned and faced the wrong direction, showing his back to the judges.

Sitting in the packed courtroom that day was the professor of international law at Cambridge University. Balding and bespectacled, Hersch Lauterpacht perched at the end of a long wooden table, round as an owl, flanked by distinguished colleagues on the British prosecution team. Seated no more than a few feet from Frank, in a trademark black suit, Lauterpacht was the one who came up with the idea of putting the term “crimes against humanity” into the Nuremberg statute, three words to describe the murder of four million Jews and Poles on the territory of Poland. Lauterpacht would come to be recognized as the finest international legal mind of the twen- tieth century and a father of the modern human rights movement, yet his interest in Frank was not just professional. For five years, Frank had been governor of a territory that included the city of Lemberg, where Lauterpacht had a large family, including his parents, a brother and sister, their children. When the trial had opened a year earlier, their fate in the kingdom of Hans Frank was unknown.

Another man with an interest in the trial was not there that day. Rafael Lemkin listened to the judgment on a wireless, from a bed in an American military hospital in Paris. A public prosecutor and then a lawyer in Warsaw, he fled Poland in 1939, when the war broke out, and eventually reached America. There he worked with the trial’s American prosecution team, alongside the British. On that long journey, he carried a number of valises, each crammed with documents, among them many decrees signed by Frank. In studying these materials, Lemkin found a pattern of behavior, to which he gave a label, to describe the crime with which Frank could be charged. He called it “genocide.” Unlike Lauterpacht, with his focus on crimes against humanity, which aimed at the protection of individuals, he was more concerned with the protection of groups. He had worked tirelessly to get the crime of genocide into Frank’s trial, but on this last day of the trial he was too unwell to attend. He too had a personal interest in Frank: he had spent years in Lwów, and his parents and brother were caught up in the crimes said to have been committed on Frank’s territory.

“Defendant Hans Frank,” the president of the tribunal announced. Frank was about to learn whether he would still be alive at Christmas, in a position to honor the promise he had recently made to his seven-year-old son, that all was fine and he would be home for the holiday.
 
Thursday, October 16, 2014,
Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice
 
Sixty-eight years later I visited courtroom 600 in the company of Hans Frank’s son Niklas, who was a small boy when that promise was made.

Niklas and I began our visit in the desolate, empty wing of the disused prison at the rear of the Palace of Justice, the only one of the four wings that still stood. We sat together in a small cell, like the one in which his father spent the better part of a year. The last time Niklas had been in this part of the building was in September 1946. “It’s the only room in the world where I am a little bit nearer to my father,” he told me, “sitting here and thinking of being him, for about a year being in here, with an open toilet and a small table and a small bed and nothing else.” The cell was unforgiving, and so was Niklas on the subject of his father’s actions. “My father was a lawyer; he knew what he did.”

Courtroom 600, still a working courtroom, was not greatly changed since the time of the trial. Back in 1946, the route from the cells required each of the twenty-one defendants to travel up a small elevator that led directly to the courtroom, a contraption that Niklas and I were keen to see. It remained, behind the dock at which the defendants sat, entered through the same wooden door, which slid open as noiselessly as ever. “Open, shut, open, shut,” wrote R. W. Cooper of The Times of London, the former lawn tennis correspondent who reported each day on the trial. Niklas slid the door open and entered the small space, then closed the door behind him.

When he came back out, he made his way to the place where his father sat during the trial, charged with crimes against humanity and genocide. Niklas sat down and leaned forward on the wooden rail. He looked at me, then around the room, and then he sighed. I had often wondered about the last time his father passed through the elevator’s sliding door and made his way to the defendant’s dock. It was something to be imagined and not seen, because cameras were not allowed to film the last afternoon of the trial, on Tuesday, October 1, 1946. This was done to protect the dignity of the defendants.

Niklas interrupted my thoughts. He spoke gently and firmly. “This is a happy room, for me, and for the world.”

From the book EAST WEST STREET by Philippe Sands, copyright © 2016 by Philippe Sands. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

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Descrizione libro Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. In 2010, Philippe Sands was invited to give a lecture on genocide and crimes against humanity at Lviv University in Ukraine, which he accepted with the intent of learning about the extraordinary city that was home to his maternal grandfather, a Galician Jew who had been born there a century before and who'd moved to Vienna at the outbreak of the First World War, married, had a child (the author's mother), and then moved to Paris after the German annexation of Austria in 1938. It was a life that had been shrouded in secrecy with many questions not to be asked and fewer answers offered if they were.As the author uncovered, clue by clue, the deliberately obscured story of his grandfather's mysterious life and of his mother's journey (alone?) as a child surviving Nazi occupation, Sands realized that his own field of humanitarian law had been forged by two men--Rafael Lemkin and Hersch Lauterpacht--each of whom had studied law with the same professors, in the city of his grandfather's birth, at Lviv University . . . Lemkin and Lauterpacht had not known one another at school and yet at parallel times had forged diametrically opposed revolutionary concepts of humanitarian law that had changed the world--and, Sands writes, that each had dedicated his life to having his legal concept incorporated as a centerpiece for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals . . .     The author writes of a third man, Hans Frank, Hitler's personal lawyer, who, as governor-general of Nazi-occupied Poland, ordered the death of more than a million Jews and Poles, among them the familes of the author, and of Lemkin and Lauterpacht.     Sands pieces together how all three lives converged in October 1946, in courtroom 600 of the Palace of Justice at the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg. Codice libro della libreria 5359676

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