Safe Haven: The United Kingdom’s Investigations into Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice

Safe Haven: The United Kingdom’s Investigations into Nazi Collaborators and the Failure of Justice

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Author:  Jon Silverman (Selwyn 1968) & Robert Sherwood

Publisher: Oxford University Press

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 police 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.

Publication date: 
Thursday 2 November 2023

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