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Monday, March 1, 2021

New Digital Exhibit: Horace R. Hansen and the Dachau War Crimes Trials

The Law Library is pleased to announce the release of a new digital exhibit this spring:

“A Witness to Barbarism: Horace R. Hansen and the Dachau War Crimes Trials”

Captain Horace R. Hansen (1910–1995), a St. Paul native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, was a lead prosecutor at the Dachau war crimes trials (1945–1947). Assigned to Dachau in October of 1945, Hansen served as a chief prosecutor in the War Crimes Division of the U.S. Third Army and prepared key concentration camp cases for trial before the American military tribunals.  Collectively, the Dachau Trials represented the largest prosecution of Nazi war criminals undertaken by the occupying American forces in post-war Germany.  

The Library’s digital exhibit details Horace Hansen’s World War II service as a soldier, war crimes investigator and prosecutor.  It also describes the main Dachau concentration camp trial and the genesis of Hansen’s later book about his experience, Witness to Barbarism (2002).  The new exhibit is based on several generous donations from Mr. Hansen’s daughter, Jean Hansen Doth, now held in the Library’s Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center.  Included on the digital site are a valuable series of documents and images, including the digitized transcript of United States v. Martin Gottfried Weiss, et al., the main Dachau camp trial.  Mr. Hansen’s wartime career bears direct witness to barbarism, and reflects on its legal remedies in a powerful way that still resonates today.

The new digital exhibit will be opened as a physical exhibit in the Riesenfeld Center in the fall.  For more information about the exhibit or the Hansen archival collection, please do not hesitate to contact me (rgreenwo@umn.edu; 612-625-7323).

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections 

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