Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whitney Harris, Former Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Has Died

We are sorry to report that Whitney Robson Harris died yesterday, at the age of 98, at his home in St. Louis, Missouri.  He was the last surviving prosecutor who appeared before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg during the trial of the principal surviving Nazi war criminals.

The following information comes from an email from Professor John Q. Barrett of St. John’s University School of Law.

At Nuremberg during 1945 and 1946, then Lieutenant-Commander Harris (United States Navy), serving as U.S. Trial Counsel, was primarily responsible for the prosecutions of defendant Ernst Kaltenbrunner, former Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, or Reich Main Security Office), and defendant organizations the RSHA, the Gestapo and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, or Security Service).  Whitney Harris also was a principal, trusted aide to U.S. chief prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson and assisted him throughout the trial, including during his cross-examination of defendant Hermann Goering.

Here is a video clip that shows Whitney Harris in Nuremberg.



Whitney Harris was the Chair of the American Bar Association Section of International Law from 1953-54.  He also served as Executive Director of the American Bar Association.

He was a graduate of the University of Washington and the University of California Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law.  As a young lawyer, he was in private practice in Los Angeles.  Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Navy.  During his World War II Navy service, he was recruited to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), where his assignments included work relating to war crimes.  In London during summer 1945, he assisted Justice Jackson’s staff informally.  He soon was recruited to join the staff and became one of its most important members at Nuremberg.

After Nuremberg, Whitney Harris served successively as Chief of Legal Advice during the Berlin Blockade, as a law professor at Southern Methodist University, as director of the Hoover Commission's Legal Services Task Force, as the first Executive Director of the American Bar Association, and as Solicitor General of Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in St. Louis.  He authored Tyranny on Trial, a monumental account of the Nuremberg case and evidence.  He also became a generous philanthropist, including at Washington University in St. Louis, and a leader and conscience in his community.

Whitney Harris is survived by his beloved wife Anna, by devoted family members, by legions of friends and admirers, by his many students, and by his former client, Civilization.  He represented it beautifully, and he left it with great confidence that it is in good hands.


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