Holocaust Perpetrators and the Law
International Conference, University of Central Florida, 8-9 April 2024
Over decades, the study of perpetrators of the Holocaust evolved from perceiving them as social misfits or sadistic monsters to depicting them as ordinary human beings being transformed into mass murderers by social, cultural, and institutional factors. Moreover, following the opening of the archives in the countries of the former Soviet bloc, the field has moved beyond the research focused on Nazi killers to their collaborators in Germany-occupied countries and its lesser allies.
This conference seeks to explore the legal framework that guided, motivated, impeded or otherwise influenced the crimes of the perpetrators. It raises questions about the perpetrators’ legal awareness, about legal cultures within which they were socialized and operated, and about legal or pseudo-legal regulations that affected their crimes. How do we account for the fact that the apparent illegality of perpetrators’ actions did not prevent them from breaching the law? This paradox is closely connected with the postwar investigations of their crimes, the juridicial and political factors involved in the prosecutorial and sentencing practices.
We invite applications from scholars working on these issues and other interconnected questions. Comparative studies, new research from historians and legal scholars as well as from adjacent disciplines are particularly welcome. We also welcome applications from scholars engaging in the theme of the conference related to genocides and events of mass violence other than the Holocaust.
Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, will give the keynote: “In Search of the Holocaust Perpetrators: A 55-year Personal Retrospective.”
The conference will take place at the premises of the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, 8-9 April 2024. Participants are encouraged to seek funding from their own institutions or other sources, but organizers expect to be able to provide financial support for travel and accomodation.