Francine Hirsch, Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II

October 12, 2020

Prof. Francine Hirsch

Professor Francine Hirsch presented her second and latest book in a live, virtual event co-sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies, A Room of One’s Own Bookstore, UW-Madison’s History Department, the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, and the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia.

In this new work, entitled Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), Professor Hirsch details a ground-breaking complete account of the Nuremberg Trials. Through her extensive research in Moscow of primary documents from the era, Professor Hirsch pulls back the curtain on the previously underestimated influence of the Soviet Union on the Nuremberg proceedings and its lasting impact on international law.

In the wake of the devastating Second World War, the Allies sought to restore justice through what would become world famous as the Nuremberg Trials. Although the trials themselves are well known, the role that Stalin’s Soviet Union played in their organization has been largely overlooked in standard accounts. In Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg, Hirsch guides her readers through the drama of the courtroom to the controversies and clandestine alliances made behind closed doors. In addition to shedding a new light on the background of the historic trials, this book provides an original lens through which to view the birth of the international human rights movement, and a deeper historical context for understanding current international relations.

During her presentation (moderated by Tony Michels, George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History), Professor Hirsch discussed, among many other things, why the Soviets were left out of the Nuremberg Trials in Western accounts, the purpose of the secret Moscow-based Nuremberg commission, and the differing views of justice among the participating countries.

Francine Hirsch is Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the American Historical Association (as well as several other awards) for her first book, Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union (2005). Her current project centers on the history of Russian-American relations through the perspectives of economics, culture, science, and international law.


An audio recording of the event is available below. The book is available for purchase at A Room Of One’s Own Bookstore.