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Entrance to The Nuremberg Palace of Justice
Nuremberg, Germany - 2013: The entrance to The Nuremberg Palace of Justice, the location of the Nuremberg Trials. Signs in English, Russian, German, French state "Nuremberg Trial Memorial."

Francine Hirsch, a former scholar with the Kennan Institute, recently won the American Historian Association’s (AHA) 2021 George Louis Beer Prize for her book Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II. This award serves to recognize outstanding historical writing on European international history since 1895.

In her book, Hirsch examines the role of the Soviet Union in helping organize the Nuremberg Trials, a set of trials that occurred after World War II with the intention of holding the Nazis accountable for their crimes. The Soviet Union was the first country to suggest trials for Nazi leaders. Furthermore, Soviet jurists were the first to conceive a legal framework that treated war actions as international crimes, which paved the path for the International Military Tribunal.

Hirsch proceeds to analyze the shifting relationships among the four countries of the prosecution during the Nuremberg Trials, with tensions growing between the Soviet Union and the Western powers, United States, Great Britain, and France. Details of this historical event are used to demonstrate how the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg subsequently became immersed in Cold War politics.

Hirsch was a short-term scholar with the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center in 2006. She also previously won the American Historical Association 2007 Herbert Baxter Adams Book Prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies 2006 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, and was a co-winner for the 2006 Council for European Studies Book Award, all for her book Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union. Currently, Hirsh serves as the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches courses on Soviet and Modern European history and on the history of human rights.

About the Author

Francine Hirsch

Francine Hirsch

Short-term Scholar;
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Kennan Institute

The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, and the region through research and exchange.  Read more