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2016 Annual Celebration | 9th Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law by Professor Christoph Safferling

On 8 December 2016, the International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC) at Philipps University Marburg held its annual celebration accompanied by the 9th Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law. As in previous years, this special event, which by now has become a tradition, took place in the historical auditorium of the Old University.

ICWC Director Professor Conze welcoming the guests.
Photo: Hermann/Römer

As in the past, the event attracted a large audience from both the university and the public sphere. Amongst the guest were, besides a large number of students and university teachers of Philipps University, representatives of the judiciary such as Thomas Sagebiel, presiding judge of the state security senate of the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main, as well as Klaus Rackwitz, director of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. The guests were welcomed by Professor Dr. Eckart Conze, executive director of the ICWC. In his report on the activities of the Centre he gave a brief overview of the manifold scientific and documental activities, research projects, lectures and international partnerships of the ICWC during the past year. The report particularly mirrored the Centre’s interdisciplinarity – an aspect which was also highlighted by Professor Dr. Michael Kling, dean of the Department of Law and, thereby, representative of one of the three faculties which support the ICWC. Professor Kling assured the ICWC further support by the department. He referred to the funding of field trips and expressed his hope that, in the future, the department would be able to provide more funding for the administrative budget as well as the personnel cost. As regards funding, he also hoped for assistance by the President’s Office.

Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling (at the left) welcoming his successor Professor Dr. Stefanie Bock (at the right), and Professor Dr. Eckart Conze (in the middle).
Photo: Hermann/Römer

In his detailed, knowledgeable and very personal keynote, Professor Kling appreciated the work of the Independent Scientific Commission on the Review of the Nazi Past at the Federal Ministry of Justice. He presented himself as a careful reader of the study “The Rosenburg File” and shed light on several essential questions that representatives of jurisprudence should ask themselves, considering the fact that a high number of import representatives of legal practice, science as well as government bureaucracy had been involved in the Nazi regime and that within recent years, the omission of the past decades has become more and more evident.

Professor Kling and Professor Conze welcomed Professor Stefanie Bock as the newly appointed professor of Criminal Law and expressed their delight about their future collaboration. At the same time, they thanked PD Dr. Ken Eckstein who had committedly represented the professorship during three long semesters of vacancy and, thus, had collaborated closely with the ICWC. As an example for cooperation, Professor Conze mentioned the lecture series “70 Years after the Nuremberg Trials” which has been one of the ICWC’s most important teaching projects of the past year.

ICWC Director Professor Conze conferring certificates upon the graduates of the Trial-Monitoring Programme.
Photo: Hermann/Römer

Another example was the supervision of the ICWC Trial-Monitoring Programme. Despite the numerous personnel changes at the department, the training programme, which is unique in the German academic landscape, has been maintained with great continuity for several years. This is particularly remarkable considering the fact that the project relies to a great extent on the voluntary work and self-management of students. As in the past, in 2016, students from various disciplines successfully completed their training to become trial observers. The graduates received their certificates from Professor Conze. With the beginning of the 2015/16 winter semester, Professor Bock has taken over the professional management of the project – thanks to her additional commitment the programme can be preserved.

Annual Celebration 2016 Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling
Photo: Hermann/Römer

Thereafter, Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling LL.M. was welcomed as the main speaker of the event. Professor Safferling, who had served as the ICWC’s director until 2015, showed himself delighted about the opportunity to return to his former domain and explained how much the years of work at the ICWC in Marburg had coined him. In his speech he presented the study “The Rosenburg File” which he, as spokesman of the Independent Scientific Commission on the Review of the Nazi Past at the Federal Ministry of Justice, had edited together with the historian Professor Dr. Manfred Görtemaker. In 2010, Professor Görtemaker himself had been the speaker of the 3rd Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law. By means of representative statistics as well as based upon various individual life stories and impressive particular examples, Professor Safferling provided an insight into the commission’s work which had unveiled that a large number of high-ranking personnel of the Federal Ministry of Justice of the first years of the Bonn republic had previously been entangled in the Nazi regime. The professor elaborated on the causes leading to this development as well as on the circumstances which had prevented the issue from being addressed publicly for such a long period of time. On the contrary, many former Nazis had been able to make scandalous careers in the service of the Ministry. At the same time, Professor Safferling emphasized the importance of a careful and nuanced evaluation of the “entanglement in the Nazi regime” which in itself is a quite problematic category. At the following standing reception in the cloister of the Old University, the audience used the opportunity to engage in lively discussions on the diverse topics of the lecture.