The Holocaust and the punishment of atrocity

Published: 21 January 2008

The annual Holocaust Memorial Lecture will this year investigate how the Nuremberg trials led to major changes in the prosecution of war crimes and genocide.

Professor Lawrence Douglas from Amherst College, Massachusetts will give his lecture titled Shattering Nuremberg: The Holocaust and Law’s Response to Atrocity on 22 January at the University of Glasgow.

Professor Douglas will highlight how the prosecution of those responsible for the Holocaust enabled more recent trials surrounding atrocities in the Balkans and genocide in Rwanda. However, there are also areas where he believes the system still needs to be developed.

Professor Douglas said: “The Nuremberg Trials radically punctured the shield of sovereignty that kept all legal issues within the individual nation state. While this revolutionised international law, the system still lacks a coherent framework, something we see in the Pinochet affair. I think we can best understand international prosecutions as serving the interests of history and memory in communities riven by extreme crimes, such as the Holocaust”.

Professor Lawrence Douglas is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College. He has co-edited eight books on contemporary legal issues and is author of the acclaimed study The Memory of Judgement: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust, and The Catastrophist, a novel.

The Holocaust Memorial Lecture will take place at 6.15pm on Tuesday 22 January in the Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow. A Roundtable on the lecture will take place on Wednesday 23 January from 2.30pm to 5pm in Seminar Room 1, Wolfson Medical Building, University of Glasgow. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information contact Clare Laidlaw at

Notes for editors

For more information please contact Kate Richardson at the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email

First published: 21 January 2008

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