Rule of Law: a novel
Brandl & Schlesinger, 2016
In the midst of World War II, the Allies promised to punish prominent German perpetrators of atrocities at war’s end. When the war was at last ending, the Allies had to agree on how to honour this promise. Summary executions by firing squad beckoned as the expedient way to do this. But the US war secretary, Henry Stimson, dissented: he agitated for a public trial before an international tribunal, one following due process and conducted in four languages. He wanted this trial to found an international rule of law that would represent a giant leap forward by outlawing aggressive war and crimes against humanity.
Stimson prevailed. His victory unleashed an unprecedented human drama in the bomb-ravaged city of Nuremberg – a drama played out in the glare of international publicity, one involving thousands of participants, many of whom were as war-damaged as the city in which they had to play their parts. The novel follows four of these participants as they face the challenges of the pioneering trial, the daily struggles of life in a shattered city haunted by its immediate Nazi past, and the urgent demands of their private lives.
‘This is a gripping story of one of the great moments in history. When the victorious Allies of the Second World War decided to put the tyrants of the Nazi regime on public trial for crimes against humanity, the symbolism was electric. The drama was overwhelming. The emotions wretched. And it had to be worked out in conditions of bombed out devastation and with no effective precedents. Across the pages walk historical characters, some of them familiar. But interwoven with their lives are human tales of great power, added by the author to remind us that this was a raw human drama. Once started, I could not put this book down.’
Hon Michael Kirby, past justice of the High Court of Australia and chair of the UN commission of inquiry on North Korea
‘A fascinating novel that captures the drama of history’s most important trial, which laid the foundation for international criminal law. This gripping account uses fiction to bring to life the personalities, principles and philosophies that contributed to the delivery of justice at Nuremberg.’
Geoffrey Robertson QC