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Hybrid Book Talk: Safe Haven with Jon Silverman and Robert Sherwood

March 11 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

The Wiener Holocaust Library is delighted to host Jon Silverman and Robert Sherwood to speak about their new book, Safe Haven: The UK’s Investigations into Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice, for its new academic book series.

The controversial 1991 War Crimes Act gave new powers to courts to try non-British citizens resident in the UK for war crimes committed during WWII. But in spite of the extensive investigative and legal work that followed, and the expense of some £11 million, it led to just one conviction: that in 1999 of Anthony (Andrzej) Sawoniuk.

Drawing on previously unavailable archival documents, transcripts of interviews with suspects, and disclosures by senior lawyers and policer offers in the War Crimes Units (WCUs), in parallel with the history of bungled investigations in the 1940s, Safe Haven considers for the first time why and how convictions failed to follow investigations. Within the broader context of war crimes investigations in the United States, Germany, and Australia, the authors reassess the legal and investigative processes and decisions that stymied inquiries, from the War Crimes Act itself to the restrictive criteria applied to it. Taken together, the authors argue that these — including the interpretations of who could and should be prosecuted and decisions about the nature and amount of evidence needed for trial — meant that many Nazi collaborators escaped justice and never appeared in a criminal court.

The authors situate this history within the legacy of the Holocaust: how, if at all, do the belated attempts to address a failure of justice sit with an ever-growing awareness of the Holocaust, represented by memorialization and education? In so doing, Safe Haven provokes a timely reconsideration of the relationship between law, history, and truth.

About the Speakers

 Jon Silverman was a BBC news journalist for twenty-six years. He was a correspondent in Paris (1987—1989) and spent thirteen years (1989—2002) as Home Affairs Correspondent. In 1996, he was named Sony ‘Radio Journalist of the Year’ for his reports for the ‘Today’ programme (Radio 4) on the UK’s Nazi war crimes inquiries. He has been a research professor at the University of Bedfordshire since 2007 where he has focused on the media and justice in post-conflict states. He has written numerous journal articles, mainly relating to research work in West and East Africa and the involvement of the International Criminal Court.

Robert Sherwood was an operational Metropolitan Police Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police Service, retiring in 2003. Having obtained an Honours Degree in Law in 1993 he returned to university in 2011 (Royal Holloway, University of London) and obtained a MA in Holocaust Studies with a distinction in his dissertation comparing the UK War Crimes Team to the US War Crimes Teams. This ignited his interest in the subject of war crimes, leading him to undertake research for a doctorate in the UK War Crimes Team since 1945, receiving the doctorate in March 2020. He is now semi-retired, concentrating on academic pursuits.

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