Three U.S. accounts – Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Nuremberg (2000), and The Nuremberg Trials (2006) – present the IMT as a triumph of the American justice system. But Soviet participation in the trial, if noted at all, is usually portrayed as negative, crude, and obstructionist.
Indeed, at the time many Americans believed the USSR should have been tried for its own criminal behavior, especially the wartime massacre of 22,000 Polish military officers in the Katyn Forest; the Soviets falsely claimed the Nazis committed the slaughter. In addition, in August 1939, the USSR and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression pact that divided Poland between the two dictatorships and gave Hitler the green light to invade Poland a month later, launching World War II.
Francine Hirsch, the Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written a brilliantly researched, compelling narrative, Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II, that shatters the negative perception of the Kremlin’s role in the Nuremberg Trial. She asserts the USSR was central in establishing the pioneering legal framework required for the IMT.