Historical memory on trial

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“Imagine that all of humanity stands before you and comes to this court and cries. These are our laws, let them prevail.” -Sir Hartley Shawcross, War Crimes Trials, Nuremberg, Germany, July 27, 1946

After discovering a former Nazi who belonged to the same killing unit as her grandfather and was the subject of a posthumous criminal investigation and concurrently a rehabilitation petition in Latvia, author Linda Kinstler began to deconstruct what these laws really mean when people are removed by time and memory from historical truths.

A phenomenal non-fiction debut, in “Come to this Court and Cry” Kinstler explores both her family story and the archives of ten nations, to determine what it takes to prove history in the uncertainty of the 21st century.

In this week’s Departures podcast, Robert Amsterdam and Kinstler discuss the implications of the neoliberal memory boom and unravel the perversions of law, when revisionism, ultra-nationalism and denialism can alter history and open rehabilitation to those who were never formally oppressed. As a new generation reckons with the crimes of the Holocaust and the shadows of the Cold War in a post-truth era, they examine what justice means when we no longer have a shared agreement of the basic facts.

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