On Friday 5 February we welcomed author William Shawcross to Civics at Bedales. He addressed an audience of around sixty students, teachers, and parents and spoke about his father, Hartley Shawcross, the chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
During the trials, Hartley Shawcross stated:
“There comes a point when a man must refuse to answer to his leader if he is also to answer to his own conscience.”
Bringing Hermann Göring to life with an eerie and disturbing character description, our speaker reminded everyone both of the recent nature and reality of the trials. However, he also argued of the impossibility of a similar mass indictment ever happening again, believing that human rights activists would withstand it.
Stressing the symbolic nature of the events, William Shawcross told of the Napoleonic myth that could have formed around the Nazis had the trails not taken place. The trials provided an opportunity for the international world to officially denounce the injustice that had occurred at the hands of the Nazi regime. Nevertheless, he made his belief clear, that further prosecution should not take place as he feels “justice was served” in the 20th century. This perspective provoked multiple debates at the conclusion.
William Shawcross has kindly donated a copy of his book, Justice and the Enemy: Nuremberg, 9/11, and the Trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the library.
By Sam Harding, 6.1