East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity
This is an erudite and well-written account of how, during and after the mostly German-committed atrocities in Europe in World War Two, the international community examined and tried what are now known as crimes of genocide and against humanity. He looks at the lives and achievements of the two men, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, who produced the initial definitions of these crimes. Philippe Sands’ maternal Jewish grandparents were forced to escape persecution from what is now Lviv in Ukraine in the late 1930s, and they were able to find a degree of safety in Paris, via Vienna. In a curious coincidence, both Lauterpacht and Lemkin studied in Lviv The pernicious role of Hans Frank, the Nazi Governor of the part of Poland which included Lviv, is also examined. Sands gets to know Frank’s son, Nikal, who wrote a biography of his father, excoriating his crimes. The three main actors come together in the groundbreaking trial at Nuremberg, which judged some of the leading offenders and perpetrators in accordance with the new norms of international crimes. This is a fascinating and moving account, as well as a warning for us today as to where mistrust and mistreatment of minorities and groups in society can lead.