‘An event that did not become an experience’: Rebecca West's Nuremberg

Lyndsey Stonebridge

in The Judicial Imagination

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748642359
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652150 | DOI:
‘An event that did not become an experience’: Rebecca West's Nuremberg

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Rebecca West's writing on the Nuremberg trial is a record of an absence at the very centre of what was intended to be the most emphatic dramatisation of postwar justice. West wrote that Nuremberg ‘was an unshapely event, a defective composition, stamping no clear image on the mind of the people it had been designed to impress. Nuremberg was one of the events that do not become an experience’, and it took place in a time before ‘the era of the witness’. Its legal originality rested with two charges unique in legal history: crimes against the peace and crimes against humanity. Since Black Lamb, West had been convinced that the real political threat to the world was the inward turn of European imperialism. The lesson she took with her from Nuremberg was that the little figures were still running.

Keywords: Rebecca West; Nuremberg; postwar justice; crimes; peace; humanity; Black Lamb; European imperialism

Chapter.  10952 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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