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History & Mission

The International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC) was founded by the Max-Plank-Institute for European Legal History (MPI) in Frankfurt am Main in 2000 underthename "Pilotprojekt der Volkswagenstiftung: Kriegsverbrecherprozesse gegen Deutsche und Japaner (Pilot Project of the Volkswagen Foundation: War Crimes Trials of Germans and Japanese)". This initiative can be traced back to the then director of the MPI, Prof. Dr. Drs. h.c. Dieter Simon, and Prof. Dr. David Cohen, director of the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California in Berkeley (WCSC). After the foundation for research had been laid the ICWC was established as an interdisciplinary research centre at the university in Marburg. On November 11th, 2003, its charter became effective.

The ICWC is active in many different fields. Among its most important duties are the research and documentation of historical sources, especially material relation to war crimes trials. In the course of this work, staff from the ICWC collect sources which are scattered around the world and then analyze them from a variety of academic perspectives. As a result the centre does not merely function as a central collection point but also offers access to a comprehensive and steadily expanding database through which an immense pool of relevant information can be accessed quickly.