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The Nuremberg trials, which brought charges against top Nazi brass after World War II, have been well documented, but few know of the courtroom drama that unfolded sixty-five miles south at Dachau. The trial held there found individual concentration camp workers, hundreds of Nazi guards, officers, and doctors, personally responsible for the torture and execution of prisoners inside the Dachau, Mauthausen, Flossenburg, and Buchenwald concentration camps.
In Justice at Dachau, Joshua M. Greene, maker of the award winning documentary film Witness: Voices from the Holocaust, documents the Dachau trials and reveals the dramatic story of William Denson, a soft-spoken young lawyer from Alabama whisked from teaching law at West Point to leading the prosecution in the largest series of Nazi trials in history. In a courtroom set up within the walls of Hitler's first concentration camp, he won convictions against 177 Nazis, the largest number convicted of war crimes by any single prosecutor. Among those accused were Dr. Klaus Schilling, responsible for hundreds of deaths in his 'research' for a cure for malaria; Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen, a Harvard psychologist turned Gestapo informant; and one of history’s most notorious female war criminals, Ilse Koch, 'Bitch of Buchenwald',whose penchant for tattooed skins and human bone lamps made headlines worldwide.
Toeing the line between building an impeccable case and answering to calls from his army superiors for quick victories and headlines, Denson emerges as a brilliant lawyer and a defender of the laws of humanity itself. Just thirty-two years old, and with one criminal trial to his name, Denson led a brilliant and successful prosecution, but nearly two years of exposure to such horrors took its toll. His wife divorced him, his weight dropped to 116 pounds, and he collapsed from exhaustion. Worst of all was the pressure from his Army superiors to bring the trials to a rapid end when their agenda shifted to the emerging Cold War. Denson, however, persevered, determined to create a careful record of responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust. When, in a final twist, the United States used clandestine reversals and commutation of sentences to set free those found guilty at Dachau, Denson risked his Army career to try to prevent justice from being undone.
Drawn from testimony preserved in a long-lost archive, Justice at Dachau weaves never-before-published accounts of horror with a new profile in courage and restores a critical chapter in World War II history. For students of Holocaust Studies, World War II history, and Legal Studies.
Praise for Justice at Dachau...
"Justice at Dachau is a mesmerizing account of one of history's most infamous periods. Joshua Greene takes the reader back in time by weaving together a riveting narrative of the trial and its central figure, Judge Advocate William Denson, a true hero and humanitarian. This book is destined to be a classic among Holocaust histories."
-Patrick O'Donnell, author of Beyond Valor and Into the Rising Sun
"Brilliantly written and fastidiously researched....This is historical storytelling at its finest.”
-Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans and co-editor of Witness to America: An Illustrated Documentary History of the United States from the Revolution to Today