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Stanford Libraries to make the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal Trial Archives 1945-1946 accessible online with funding from Taube Philanthropies

Press release

Woman sitting in court
Madame Valliant Couturier revealed the conditions under which French women existed while interned; 49 of the 230 French women sent to Auschwitz survived. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, gift of Channette Alexander.

In pursuit of the common goal of dissemination and long-term preservation of the archives of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, Stanford Libraries has been authorized by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to manage long-term digital preservation and online hosting with significant scholarly functions for records of the war crimes trial conducted at Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946. The archives were entrusted to the ICJ by a decision of the Tribunal in 1946. In partnership with the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Stanford Libraries will develop this collection to provide a unique multimedia research and educational resource for scholars, students, the public, and posterity. Support from Taube Philanthropies to Stanford will provide funds for the hosting program and establish an endowment to ensure the archive is maintained and remains secure in the Stanford Digital Archive, where it will be known as the Taube Archive of the International Military Tribunal of Nuremberg. 

The convictions and other decisions arising from the International Military Tribunal (IMT) conducted at Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946 represent the first application of the principle that individuals, including heads of state, can be held criminally accountable for international crimes, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity. This development signaled a significant shift in international law and provides the foundation on which all the current international tribunals have been created. The Nuremberg principles gave rise to a new era of human rights and international justice that continues until today.

The creation of this Nuremberg archival collection at Stanford will provide an innovative digital platform of transformative global importance for researchers, students, and educators. For the first time, all of the Nuremberg IMT documentation, including film, audio recordings, photographs, and all of the massive body of records, transcripts, evidence, minutes of meetings, and other documents, will be hosted online in one location. Moreover, the innovative platforms of the Stanford Libraries will ensure easy accessibility. David Cohen, director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and a leading expert on the post-WWII trials, states that, “Making this resource broadly available represents an extraordinary opportunity. Through our partnership with the Stanford Libraries, we will work together to ensure that the design of the resource will include scholarly functionalities that will enable the fullest utilization of this remarkable resource.”

“Without doubt, modern history is dominated by the Second World War and by the horrors of the Holocaust. The International Military Tribunal conducted in Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946 reflects much of the Holocaust history ranking it among the most important of 20th century records. Being given the responsibility to make the IMT digital archive into a high-functioning, public website is for Stanford an enormous honor and a great responsibility. As a survivor of the Holocaust, the opportunity to help Stanford finance this project is a great personal honor,” said Tad Taube, Chairman of Taube Philanthropies.

Improving access to and preservation of records from international war tribunals has been an ongoing effort between Stanford Libraries and the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice. In 2018, Stanford launched the Virtual Tribunals Digital Collection making records from 105 cases investigated by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes in East Timor widely accessible. “The Taube IMT Archive program is a groundbreaking expansion of this initial pilot effort, which has been designed to enable cutting-edge cross-tribunal research in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” said Cohen.

While selected materials from the IMT are already available online, Michael Keller, vice provost and university librarian at Stanford, notes, “They are scattered in the holdings of many institutions, which makes access difficult, and they do not include important scholarly functions, such as comparison of documents, annotation of pages and images of trial proceedings, links to related websites, and sharing of scholarly annotations. This program would not have been possible without the significant support of Tad Taube and Shana Penn of the Taube Philanthropies.”

“The Nuremberg digital archive site we are developing will present the original, unpublished, and complete official record of the IMT Trial,” said Keller. Academic use of the digital IMT Archive is expected to be robust, but Keller believes, “the truths and principles that it contains will inform broader humanitarian purposes and will combat misinformation, inspire human rights movements, and create trust in justice.”

The Taube IMT Digital Archive project undertaken by the Stanford Libraries will make a significant contribution to the international community’s cooperative efforts to ensure the long-term preservation of the archives. In 2010, the ICJ arranged for the paper documents to be de-acidified and digitized. Over the last several years, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris funded and provided technical advice for the digitization of the film, microfilm, and gramophone disc components of the archives.

The digital surrogates received from the International Court of Justice, and other partners will be ingested for long-term preservation into the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR), a secure, sustainable, scalable environment for digital content of enduring value. In production since 2006, SDR contents currently include nearly 2 million objects and over a petabyte of unique content, including books, images, archival manuscripts, theses, dissertations, articles, software, data sets, geospatial resources, audio, moving images, games, web sites, 3D models, and more.

The Stanford Libraries will build upon the open-source software platforms ArcLight and Spotlight to present the digital facsimiles of the original record of the trials in their archival context, with state-of-the-art features for searching, browsing and display.

“As an academic library, it is our role to ensure that the pathways to discovery for these records are well organized and accessible, so these accounts of pivotal historical events are never suppressed or lost and are open for study and understanding,” said Keller. “To implement that vision, the Stanford Center for Human Rights and International Justice is committed to working with the Stanford Libraries to develop educational, scholarly, and public initiatives to take advantage of the full potential of the collection,” said Cohen.

About Taube Philanthropies

Dedicated to the principles of a democratic society, including open economic enterprise, self-reliance, freedom of inquiry, and limited government, Taube Philanthropies works to ensure that free citizens will have full opportunity for the advancement of their goals and dreams, by supporting programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Poland, and Israel. Areas of concentration include education and scholarship, Jewish cultural renewal and heritage preservation, institution and community building, and public policy initiatives oriented to preserve American principles and Jewish Peoplehood.

About Stanford Libraries

The Stanford Libraries have been described by commentators as “an innovation juggernaut” in service to scholarship, teaching, and learning at Stanford. Anticipating the needs and interests of today’s and tomorrow’s scholars is at the core of how Stanford Libraries collect and develop collections in all formats and genres, build digital research tools, and offer deeply informed services. The Stanford Libraries’ position as a launchpad to spark curiosity, elevate knowledge and transform scholarship is meant to support the Stanford community as well as to serve as a model to other similar institutions.

Last updated July 28, 2023