Nuremberg documents are now digitally available 75 years after trial

“‘Never again’ doesn’t mean anything unless you know what has happened and why,” said Prof. David Cohen.

By Josh Plank, World Israel News

A new collection of searchable, digitally archived materials from the Nuremberg trials has been made available to the public by California’s Stanford University on the 75th anniversary of the sentencing of Nazi leaders by the International Military Tribunal (IMT), the university announced last week.

“‘Never again’ doesn’t mean anything unless you know what has happened and why,” said David Cohen, director of the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice and professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

Cohen has partnered with Stanford Libraries to digitally archive the over 5,000 trial records, allowing the public to easily browse and discover the contents of more than 250,000 pages of digitized paper documents.

“It helps people understand the human consequences of the things that are going on today and to understand the human dimension of what these kinds of events mean,” said Cohen.

“If we believe that understanding what’s happened in the past is important for understanding the present and thinking about the future, then these testimonies are important,” he said.

Documents in the archive, which was made possible in part due to a grant from philanthropist Tad Taube, have been converted from handwritten, typed or scanned paper files into an electronic format using optical character recognition technology.

“Our intention is to make these trial archives visible to the world, via the web, using the best technology we can find, build, adopt or adapt to make scholarship easier on very complex archives,” said Stanford librarian Michael Keller.

“The technology will allow users to discover and cut straight to material in a really dense corpus without being an expert on the trial or being a lawyer, and that is really powerful,” said Penelope Van Tuyl, associate director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

On October 1, 1946, a group of convicted Nazi leaders was sentenced by the IMT at Nuremberg for war crimes committed during World War II and the Holocaust, marking the first time international law was used to prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity.