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550 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 had lost its raison d'etre. Vincent's moral judgments are always scrupulous: she asks us to weigh in the balance that the Swiss had reason to believe non-cooperation with Hitler could lead to a German occupation. She reminds us that Western governments hastened to forget all they knew about Switzerland's role in the Second World War, for after the war its banks could help rebuild the shattered economies of western Europe. Finally, she is blunt in describing the demagogic tactics sometimes employed by the World Jewish Congress and its political ally U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato. Thus D'Amato claimed to offer new revelations from long-declassified and inaccurate State Department files, in the process slandering a number ofSwiss anti-Nazis. While she has reservations about the World Jewish Congress's claims of large amounts lying in dormant accounts of Holocaust victims, she also recognizes that the Swiss government and banking establislunent, with their blanket denials and non-cooperation, had set up enormous barriers to those who sought truth and justice. The Swiss, like all people, are not a monolith. There were pro-Nazis and anti-Nazis in wartime Switzerland. Vincent's book prepares us for the next task of research, on the wartime Swiss state and society. (JACQUES KORNBERG) Patrick Brode. Casual Slaughters and Accidental Judgments: Canadian War Crimes Prosecutions, 1944-1948 University of Toronto Press. xxx, 292. $39.95 The adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in July 1998, propels the prosecution of war crimes to the centre stage of the international agenda. Although promised in the Versailles Treaty, essentially for the first time in history, only a few, perfunctory war crimes trials were held following the First World War. The real precedents for internationaljustice, the references for the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia as well as the model for the new International Criminal Court, were those held following the Second World War. The great Nuremberg trial of twenty-three major war criminals was the only truly international undertaking in the European theatre. But thousands of other offenders were judged by courts established under the laws of the victorious allies, mainly the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Canada's military justice system undertook only a few cases, although the most significant of them, that of Kurt Meyer, is well known to specialists for affirming the rule that commanders could be held liable for the acts of their subordinates, even if their only offence was negligent supervision. Patrick Brode has gone well beyond the normal authorities that legal researchers usually consider, ploughing into the National Archives of HUMANITIES 551 Canada and other primary sources to present an important contribution to our knowledge of Meyer's trial and of the other limited efforts by Canada in Europe and Asia. As Brode points out, Ottawa was indifferent at best to the whole business. The meagreenthusiasmin 1945 and 1946led to decades of impunity for war criminals within Canada, a legacy we continue to wrestle with. The heart of Brode's story is the Meyer trial. Commander during the Normandy invasion of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, which was composed of fanatic teenagers drawn from the Hitler Youth, Meyer pleaded ignorance in the face of clear evidence that his troops had mercilessly executed Canadian prisoners of war at the Abbaye d'Ardenne. The sometimes inept prosecution was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Macdonald, and ultimately the conviction rested upon the command responsibility principle rather than any hard evidence that Meyer had given orders to give no quarter. Brode presents excerpts of Macdonald's crossexamination of Meyer and other defence witnesses. To the extent that a transcript can betray the tone of a hearing, the impression is of a hectoring, sarcastic, and ultimately ineffective prosecutor. After Meyer was found guilty and sentenced to death, Major-General Chris Vokes commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Vokes said there was no evidence that Meyer had given any order to kill prisoners, although Brode seems astonished and suggests Vokes hadn't read the evidence. Brodeimplies that Vokes was himselftainted with complicity in war crimes and uncomfortable imposing on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 550-552
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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