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History Department Colloquium

May 13, 2013
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM

2203 SSH

Peter Holquist, University of Pennsylvania

Title: "Crimes against Humanity: Genealogy of a Concept, 1815-1945"

Abstract: Many people identify the concept of "crimes against humanity" with the Nuremberg Trial and view it as a reaction to the Holocaust. In fact, the first penal use of the concept had come three decades before, in the Allies' May 24, 1915 Note to the Ottoman government regarding the Armenian genocide. Professor Holquist's presentation will examine three stages of the emergence of this concept: first, the nineteenth-century precedents of the concept of "crimes against humanity"; second, the negotiations and drafting of the 1915 note and debates around the use of the term "crimes against humanity"; and, finally, the fate of the concept in the interwar years, leading up to the Nuremberg Trials in 1945-1946. In particular, the presentation will trace the remarkable and overlooked prominence of imperial Russia in the development and usage of this concept.Co-sponsored by MESA.