World War II

Introduction

World War II - Research Guide International Law

World War II, or the Second World War, was the global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations — including all of the great powers — eventually forming two opposing military alliances, the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, with more than 100 million military personnel mobilised. In a state of "total war," the major participants placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by significant events involving the mass death of civilians, including the Holocaust and the only use of nuclear weapons in warfare, it was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 50 million to over 70 million fatalities. The Peace Palace Library's collection on World War II is focused on aspects of international law: the laws of war, international humanitarian law, international criminal law (war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace and security of mankind, genocide, aggression, the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials), war reparations and the politics of its memory.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on World War II. It provides the basic materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's Classification scheme → History: World War II and subject heading (keyword) World War II are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Bibliography

Reference works

Recent books

The Nuremberg Trials

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

 


Classification scheme → History

New titles


1. Die Verteidiger in den Nürnberger Prozessen von 1945 bis 1949
Die Verteidiger in den Nürnberger Prozessen von 1945 bis 1949 / Hubert Seliger In: Anwaltsblatt = ISSN 0171-7227: (2016), issue 12, page 866-870. - 2016
Keywords: Germany, International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, National socialism, World War II, War criminals, International criminal procedure,

2. An Overview of the Singapore War Crimes Trials (1946-1948)
An Overview of the Singapore War Crimes Trials (1946-1948) : Prosecuting Lower-level Accused / Cheah W L In: Singapore Law Review = ISSN 0080-9691: vol. 34, page 1-46. - 2016
Keywords: Japan, Singapore, World War II, War crimes, Prosecution, Criminal justice,

 


Classification scheme → History

Librarian's choice

  • Wilson, S. (et al.), Japanese War Criminals: The Politics of Justice after the Second World War, New York, Columbia University Press, 2017.

    Beginning in late 1945, the United States, Britain, China, Australia, France, the Netherlands, and later the Philippines, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China convened national courts to prosecute Japanese military personnel for war crimes. The defendants included ethnic Koreans and Taiwanese who had served with the armed forces as Japanese subjects. In Tokyo, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East tried Japanese leaders. While the fairness of these trials has been a focus for decades, Japanese War Criminals instead argues that the most important issues arose outside the courtroom. What was the legal basis for identifying and detaining subjects, determining who should be prosecuted, collecting evidence, and granting clemency after conviction? The answers to these questions helped set the norms for transitional justice in the postwar era and today contribute to strategies for addressing problematic areas of international law. Examining the complex moral, ethical, legal, and political issues surrounding the Allied prosecution project, from the first investigations during the war to the final release of prisoners in 1958, Japanese War Criminals shows how a simple effort to punish the guilty evolved into a multidimensional struggle that muddied the assignment of criminal responsibility for war crimes. Over time, indignation in Japan over Allied military actions, particularly the deployment of the atomic bombs, eclipsed anger over Japanese atrocities, and, among the Western powers, new Cold War imperatives took hold. This book makes a unique contribution to our understanding of the construction of the postwar international order in Asia and to our comprehension of the difficulties of implementing transitional justice.

    View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
  • Remy, S.P., The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy, Cambridge, MA, London, Harvard University Press, 2017.

    During the Battle of the Bulge, Waffen SS soldiers shot 84 American prisoners near the Belgian town of Malmedy―the deadliest mass execution of U.S. soldiers during World War II. The bloody deeds of December 17, 1944, produced the most controversial war crimes trial in American history. Drawing on newly declassified documents, Steven Remy revisits the massacre―and the decade-long controversy that followed―to set the record straight. After the war, the U.S. Army tracked down 74 of the SS men involved in the massacre and other atrocities and put them on trial at Dachau. All the defendants were convicted and sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Over the following decade, however, a network of Germans and sympathetic Americans succeeded in discrediting the trial. They claimed that interrogators―some of them Jewish émigrés―had coerced false confessions and that heat of battle conditions, rather than superiors’ orders, had led to the shooting. They insisted that vengeance, not justice, was the prosecution’s true objective. The controversy generated by these accusations, leveled just as the United States was anxious to placate its West German ally, resulted in the release of all the convicted men by 1957. The Malmedy Massacre shows that the torture accusations were untrue, and the massacre was no accident but was typical of the Waffen SS’s brutal fighting style. Remy reveals in unprecedented depth how German and American amnesty advocates warped our understanding of one of the war’s most infamous crimes through a systematic campaign of fabrications and distortions.

    View this title in our link resolver Plinklet
  • Priemel, K.Ch., The Betrayel: the Nuremberg Trials and German Divergence, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016.

    At the end of World War II the Allies faced a threefold challenge: how to punish perpetrators of appalling crimes for which the categories of 'genocide' and 'crimes against humanity' had to be coined; how to explain that these had been committed by Germany, of all nations; and how to reform Germans. The Allied answer to this conundrum was the application of historical reasoning to legal procedure. In the thirteen Nuremberg trials held between 1945 and 1949, and in corresponding cases elsewhere, a concerted effort was made to punish key perpetrators while at the same time providing a complex analysis of the Nazi state and German history. Building on a long debate about Germany's divergence from a presumed Western path of development, Allied prosecutors sketched a historical trajectory which had led Germany to betray the Western model. Historical reasoning both accounted for the moral breakdown of a 'civilised' nation and rendered plausible arguments that this had indeed been a collective failure rather than one of a small criminal clique. The prosecutors therefore carefully laid out how institutions such as private enterprise, academic science, the military, or bureaucracy, which looked ostensibly similar to their opposite numbers in the Allied nations, had been corrupted in Germany even before Hitler's rise to power. While the argument, depending on individual protagonists, subject matters, and contexts, met with uneven success in court, it offered a final twist which was of obvious appeal in the Cold War to come: if Germany had lost its way, it could still be brought back into the Western fold. The first comprehensive study of the Nuremberg trials, The Betrayal thus also explores how history underpins transitional trials as we encounter them in today's courtrooms from Arusha to The Hague.

    View this title in our link resolver Plinklet

Database

 


Classification scheme → History

Blogs

  • The Emerging Legal Regime of Wrecks of Warships

    The status in international law of operational warships has been long established. In contrast, the status of such vessels after they have sunk has been, and remains, a matter of considerable uncertainty. The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides no rules whatsoever relating to sunken warships nor to wrecks more generally. However, over the last decades, technological advances have led to the discovery of many new wreck sites, fuelling commercial interest in these wrecks. As we have seen in our previous blog, illegal scavenging of war wrecks has caused significant upset among governments, war veterans and historians who want to preserve the final resting place of sailors who went down with their ships.

    Read more
  • Java Sea: Dutch, British and U.S. WW II Shipwrecks destroyed by Illegal Scavenging

    An international investigation has been launched into the mysterious disappearance of Dutch Second World War shipwrecks which have vanished from the bottom of the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia. In a press statement on 15 November, the Dutch Defence Ministery has confirmed that the wrecks of two of its warships that sank in 1942, the HNLMS De Ruyter (see photo) and HNLMS Java, have completely gone, while large parts of a third, the HNLMS Kortenaer, are also missing. The Dutch Defence Ministry immediateley launched an investigation as to what happened to the wrecks, suggesting the wrecks may have been illegally salvaged for the scrap metal market.

    Read more
  • New (E-)book: Historical War Crimes Trials in Asia

    Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher (TOAEP) in Brussels has published a new (e-)book : Historical War Crimes Trials in Asia edited by Daqun Liu and Binxin Zhang. The TOAEP furthers the objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education by publishing worldwide through the Internet. The publisher has four publications series: the Publication Series, the Policy Brief Series, the Occasional Paper Series and the Law of the Future Series. The Peace Palace Library wishes to thank the Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher for donating all books on print.

    Read more
  • From The Hague to Nuremberg: Our Visit to Nuremberg

    From Sunday 8 November 2015 to Tuesday 10 November 2015, Sophie Brinkel, Candice Alihusain and Fé de Jonge, visited the city of Nuremberg in Germany. This city is internationally known for the war crimes trials that took place in Nuremberg after the Second World War, from 1945 to 1949. These trials encompassed both the International Military Tribunal, which was created by the Allied forces, and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials, organized by the USA authorities.

    Read more
  • Warsaw Uprising 70th Anniversary, 1944-2014

    Today it is exactly seventy years ago the Warsaw Uprising began on Godzina W at 17.00 hours. It was part of a greater resistance operation Akcja Burza meaning Operation Tempest but often referred to in English as Operation Storm. The idea of national armed rising was there from the moment the Armia Krajowa the largest organisation in the Polish Resistance, formed after the German Occupation of Poland in 1939. The Polish resistance movement, consisting of the Armia Krajowa and affiliated organisations even became the largest underground resistance movement in Europe.

    Read more
  • D-Day and the Battle of Normandy Remembered

    On June 6th, 2014, Heads of State and dignitaries from France, Great Britain, Canada, the United States and other Allied countries will gather on Sword beach, Normandy with a contingent of the last living veterans to remember the liberation of France. They will honor the sacrifice made, and heroism shown by men and women in uniform and by French civilians on D-Day and during the Normandy Battle on land, sea and in the air. With deep gratitude for the liberators the Heads of State attending will once again solemnly confirm their bond of friendship and their common steadfast pursuit for a more peaceful world.

    Read more
  • Cultural Property: Art Crimes, Disputes and the Passage of Time

    On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Dutch Restitutions Committee, an International Symposium titled ‘Fair and Just Solutions? Alternatives to Litigation in Nazi-looted Art Disputes, Status Quo And New Developments’ was held in the Academy Building of the Peace Palace on November 27, 2012.

    Read more
  • Dresden 1945: An Allied War Crime?

    Since 1945, the bombing of Dresden is considered by many as a violation of international law and as a crime against humanity, even though positive rules of international humanitarian law were absent at the time. The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, were among the first formal statements of the laws of war and war crimes in the nascent body of international law. However these conventions, adressing the codes of wartime conduct on land and at sea, were adopted before the rise of air power. Despite repeated diplomatic attempts (→ The Hague Rules of Air Warefare 1922/1923) to update international humanitarian law to include aerial warfare, it was not done before the outbreak of World War II. The absence of positive international humanitarian law does not mean that the laws of war did not cover aerial warfare, but there was no general agreement of how to interpret those laws. The aerial bombardment of Dresden does not only raise the question as to whether or not it was an Allied war crime, but it also makes a moral appeal to prevent total war against civilian populations. It’s memory is kept alive.

    Read more
  • German War Reparations (WW I) Financially Ended

    Nearly 92 years after the official end of World War I, Germany made its final reparations-related payment for the Great War on October 3, thereby ending the conflict financially. The German newspaper Die Welt discovered a last installment for the Londoner Schuldenabkommen of 69,9 million euro’s in the German budget. Not being a direct reparations settlement but rather the final sum owed on bonds that were issued between 1924 and 1930 and sold to foreign (mostly American) investors, but then never paid.
    German War Reparations (WW I) Financially Ended

    Read more

See also

More Research guides on War, Peace and Security

PPL keywords

Other suggestions

Classification scheme → History