The International Nuremberg Principles Academy organized a panel discussion and dialogue, which explored the nuances and intricacies of the history, current evolution and development of Schreibtischtäter (desk perpetrators) and their international crimes. It was co-organized with and held at the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg on 26 September 2019.
The event, initiated and chaired by Dr. Viviane Dittrich, Deputy Director of the Nuremberg Academy, brought together leading experts specializing in history, law, literature, and political science. The panel consisted of Prof. Jens Meierhenrich, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), Dr. Annette Weinke, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Prof. Thomas Weigend, Universität zu Köln, Prof. Dirk van Laak, Universität Leipzig, and Prof. Kim Priemel, University of Oslo.
The discussions contemplated the nature of the trope of the Schreibtischtäter as a socio-legal phenomenon, reflecting on its connections to modern international criminal law and procedure. The experts further traced its evolution through prominent war crimes trials, including the Nuremberg trials, the trial of Adolf Eichmann conducted in Jerusalem, and trials conducted at the ad hoc tribunals dealing with crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda respectively.
The experts underlined the need for analytical rigor and a comprehensive understanding of the legal, political, social and moral dimension of desk perpetrators as well as their central role in all forms of organized crimes. This growing importance is due to the increased division of work in modern societies and structures, which at the same time also provides prevention and control mechanisms, such as the administrative courts, ethics committees or advisory councils.
Following the public event, an expert workshop on “Schreibtischtäter and their international crimes” with 20 internationally leading scholars from universities in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Norway, the UK, and the US was organized by the Nuremberg Academy, in close cooperation with Professor Jens Meierhenrich (LSE), at the Documentation Center on 27 and 28 September 2019.