IALS Webinar: The Legal Team Behind the Polish War Crimes Trials (1946-1948)

My study will address a missing component in the legal historical narrative about Poland’s contribution to international criminal law and justice and ask: who were the Polish lawyers behind the country’s war crimes trials? My research will consider this question through a careful reconstruction of their biographies, beginning with an anlaysis of the materials I have gathered from archives. Completing the legal historical narrative this way taps into an important line of research that is developing in socio-legal studies: the judicial/legal biography. My research will contribute to the development of this methodological approach. The contribution of this group’s efforts to international criminal law is a relatively unacknowledged one. The Polish delegation at Nuremberg was actively involved in preparing national indictments against German war criminals. At the domestic trials before the Supreme National Tribunal the Polish legal team succeeded in applying a blend of international and national law to address and characterise atrocities at a time when these crimes were not yet defined formally. Some of the Tribunal’s rulings are cited by various authorities, such as the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in accounts about the development of international crimes, and in studies about Holocaust trials. Yet there is no meaningful link made to the lesser-known lawyers who contributed to the law’s development. My research will fill this omission.

School of Advanced Study
Dr Agata Fijalkowski
Event date: 
Wednesday, 30 September 2020 - 12:00pm