David Crowe speaks on genocide and law at Stetson
David M. Crowe, a professor of legal history at the School of Law, and professor of history in the department of History and Geography, gave a series of lectures at the Stetson University College of Law on March 6 and 7.
The lectures were sponsored by The Jewish Law Student Association and Amnesty International. His principal lecture, "Genocide and the Law: Oskar Schindler, Raphael Lemkin and their Pathways to Justice," discussed the direct and indirect intersection of the lives and legal experiences of two of the most famous figures to emerge from the ashes of World War II. Schindler, a Czech-German carpetbagger, entered Poland on the heels of the German army in the fall of 1939, while Lemkin, a prominent Polish-Jewish attorney, fled to escape the growing persecution of the Nazis. Over the course of the next six years, Schindler ran increasingly afoul of German law as he sought increasingly to save hundreds of Jews in his employ. Lemkin, who fled first to Sweden and then the U.S., drew from the growing body of war crimes being committed throughout Nazi-occupied Europe to write his Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, which created and defined a new term in international law - genocide - to describe the very horrors that Schindler worked so hard to overcome in his efforts to save almost 1100 Jews.
After the war, both men sought new pathways to deal with the horrors of the war, and played important roles not only in seeking justice for the perpetrators of such crimes, but also making the world more aware about the nature of such crimes. Lemkin was a key figure in the creation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, while Schindler testified in a number of war crimes trials and was later recognized by Israel at one of its Righteous Among the Nations, or Righteous Gentiles. Lemkin was nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Both continued to work until their deaths for greater international recognition of the continued fight for human rights and justice.
Crowe also delivered a lecture on the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four co-defendants before a U.S. Military Commission trial at Guantanamo. This lecture focused on the evolution of U.S. military trials and questions about their legality and rights of defendants.
Dr. Crowe’s most recent work is Crimes of State, Past and Present: Government-Sponsored Atrocities and International Legal Responses (2010). His The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath (2008) was selected by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2008. His 2004 Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind The List (2004), was a selection of the History Book Club and has been translated into German and Dutch. His War Crimes, Genocide, and Justice: A Global History, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.