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Questioning the Nazis: languages and effectiveness in British war crimes investigations and trials in Germany, 1945-1948

Abstract : At the end of the Second World War in Europe the urge to dispense justice and to punish war crimes was one of the most important issues in the dissolution of the conflict. Investigators, interrogators and interpreters had a crucial function in communicating the conflict in the denazification process. The ‘questioning’ of enemies in the effort to dispense justice, problematizes the meanings of the conflict itself and shapes the identities of those involved. Investigations and the consequent trials are also encounters with the enemy and between speakers of different languages, as well as a moment of collision between different national and cultural identities. Identity and language (including interpreting and translating) are crucial for military effectiveness involved in this process. The account of how the need for military effectiveness shaped the structure of the War Crimes Investigation Unit, of the whole process of judgment and punishment of enemies, and especially the identities of those involved in relation to the social space in which they operated, is the purpose of this article. It also contributes to the early history of court interpreting, by providing an account of how the new profession of court interpreter is born, and how it is related, again, to justice and to the needs of occupation and efficiency.
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Contributor : Simona Tobia <>
Submitted on : Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 4:38:51 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 24, 2020 - 1:54:23 AM

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Simona Tobia. Questioning the Nazis: languages and effectiveness in British war crimes investigations and trials in Germany, 1945-1948. Journal of War & Culture Studies, Bristol : Intellect., 2010, 3 (1), pp.123-136. ⟨hal-02552555⟩

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