Letters from Nuremberg
My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice
By Christopher Dodd
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780307381170, 384pp.)
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
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For some sixty years, the Nuremberg trials have demonstrated the resolve of the United States and its fellow Allied victors of the Second World War to uphold the principles of dispassionate justice and the rule of law even when cries of vengeance threatened to carry the day. In the summer of 1945, soon after the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, Thomas J. Dodd, the father of U.S. Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, traveled to the devastated city of Nuremberg to serve as a staff lawyer in this unprecedented trial for crimes against humanity. Thanks to his agile legal mind and especially to his skills at interrogating the defendants—including such notorious figures as Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Rudolf Hess—he quickly rose to become the number two prosecutor in the U.S. contingent.
Over the course of fifteen months, Dodd described his efforts and his impressions of the proceedings in nightly letters to his wife, Grace. The letters remained in the Dodd family archives, unexamined, for decades. When Christopher Dodd, who followed his father’s path to the Senate, sat down to read the letters, he was overwhelmed by their intimacy, by the love story they unveil, by their power to paint vivid portraits of the accused war criminals, and by their insights into the historical importance of the trials.
Along with Christopher Dodd’s reflections on his father’s life and career, and on the inspiration that good people across the world have long taken from the event that unfolded in the courtroom at Nuremberg, where justice proved to be stronger than the most unspeakable evil, these letters give us a fresh, personal, and often unique perspective on a true turning point in the history of our time. In today’s world, with new global threats once again put-ting our ideals to the test, Letters from Nuremberg reminds us that fear and retribution are not the only bases for confrontation. As Christopher Dodd says here, “Now, as in the era of Nuremberg, this nation should never tailor its eternal principles to the conflict of the moment, for if we do so, we will be shadowing those we seek to overcome.”
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, son of the late Senator Thomas J. Dodd, is a U.S. senator from Connecticut. He is chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Labor and Human Resources Committee. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Senator Dodd is a recipient of the Edmund S. Muskie Public Service Award and is also widely known for his work on children and family issues. He and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, have two young daughters, Grace and Christina, and live in a converted schoolhouse in East Haddam, Connecticut.
LARY BLOOM, author of The Writer Within, Lary Bloom’s Connecticut Notebook, and other books, is a columnist for the New York Times and Connecticut magazine. He is also a playwright, lyricist, and memoir teacher, and was the editor of the Sunday magazines of the Miami Herald and the Hartford Courant. He lives in Chester, Connecticut. His website is www.larybloom.net.
“In researching my book on Nuremberg, the trial sprang to life when I encountered the role of prosecutor Thomas Dodd. Fortunately, in hundreds of letters home, Dodd recorded an unvarnished insider view of the tribunal. Today the outcome of Nuremberg may seem foregone. But Dodd’s vivid account reveals how feuds among allies, prosecutors and judges nearly sank the world’s first trial in which the rule of law triumphed over a reign of barbarism.”
—Joseph E. Persico, author of Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial
“Tom Dodd was not only a most competent pretrial interrogator and courtroom prosecutor, but was admired and liked by me and all others who worked with him. LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG shows how much that famous trial still affects us today. Tom Dodd’s letters have the immediacy and emotional power of a novel. This book is a terrific addition to the Nuremberg legacy.”
—Richard W. Sonnenfeldt, Chief Interpreter for the American Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials and author of Witness to Nuremberg
“At times anguished and stimulating, always informative and insightful, Thomas Dodd’s personal letters from the Nuremburg trial to his wife as presented by his son, Senator Christopher Dodd, constitute an important contribution to History. All those interested in the events resulting from the darkest zones of humanity will find this volume of great value.”
“This book is a tour de force–a gold mine for historians, an intimate love story, and a compelling portrait of key Nazi figures. Splendidly edited, the letters capture as never before the intrigue, the infighting, and the daily drama of one of the most important trials in history.”
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals
“Thomas Dodd’s letters from Nuremberg illuminate the most important trial of the 20th Century through the moving and insightful reflections of a husband, father and patriot as he made history. Chris Dodd places his father’s letters and the trial in context brilliantly, contrasting America’s deep commitment to the rule of law at Nuremberg with our unfortunate abandonment of that commitment at Guantanamo today. The publication of these letters is especially timely now, as we struggle to regain the respect we so justly earned 60 years ago when we demonstrated to the world the immense power of the rule of law.”
—Senator Edward Kennedy
“LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG is actually two important and absorbing books in one. Thomas Dodd’s letters take us into the emotional heart of that complex trial that established Nazi crimes for all future generations of humankind. Christopher Dodd’s meditations on them show us the compelling importance of his father’s experience at Nuremberg to our own world sixty years later.”
—Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage
“The content of LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG represents an insightful, very personal perspective into the daily workings of the Nuremberg trials. Chris skillfully extrapolates this historic chapter of European history from the loving correspondence between his father, abroad in a war-torn land, and his mother, coping with the demands of a young family remaining at home. This book, written by my valued friend and colleague, will rightfully take its place on the shelf of history.”
—Senator John Warner