Fire often erases historical records and links to our families' pasts when it destroys buildings. The children of Thomas J. Dodd thought they had lost most of what he and his wife Grace had left them when a warehouse in Rhode Island burned. In the late 1980s, however, daughter Martha, brother of Christopher J. Dodd (the senator), discovered her parents letters in her basement. These included letters that Thomas Dodd had written to his wife from Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946, when he was a lawyer prosecuting Nazi officials for war crimes. It was a great find for the family and for readers.
Christopher Dodd organized and edited these letters to publish Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice. His father had written almost daily for much of his 15 months, telling of the conditions in Europe, his loneliness, and the prosecution of the trial of 21 men accused of the following:
1. conspiracy to wage aggressive war
2. crimes against peace
3. war crimes
4. crimes against humanity
Other books on the trial at Nuremberg have more details about the defendants and actual accusations, but Dodd excels at describing the trial and the conduct of lawyers, judges, the press, and the public reacting to the news. His letters also describe the relationships between the United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union (Dodd almost always says Russia) at a point before the Cold War had been recognized.
I enjoyed reading Dodd's intimate accounts, full of daily experiences and personal opinions. He comments on the fires that burned Europe's cities during the war. His letters will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Cronkite's War: His World War II Letters Home.
Dodd, Christopher J. with Lary Bloom. Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice. Crown, 2007. 373p. ISBN 9780307381163.