Visiting Nuremberg, Reflecting on the Ambiguous Legacies of Nuremberg

2 Oct


I spent two days at Nuremberg to attend the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award ceremony on September 22, 2017. The reason we were in Nuremberg was that my wife had been a member of an international jury that selects an awardee every second year. The recipient in 2017 was the ‘Caesar Group,’ the undercover work of an official Syrian police photographer, who had managed to smuggle out of Syria a hard drive with 28,000 photographs of 6,000 prisoners of Bashar al-Assad’s detention centers in Damascus. These extraordinary images of tortured and dead bodies were truly horrifying in ways that statistics or even first-hand stories told by victims and their families, rarely are. The name Caeser is a pseudonym for this brave Syrian photographer who is living incognito in Britain, understandably fearing for his life. The Nuremberg award honors not only Caesar, but those who helped in the complex work of archiving the photographs and doing whatever possible to disseminate them to the world. The Caeser Group also performed the grim task of giving several family members a morbid closure about the whereabouts of their loved ones who had disappeared without a trace into the dreaded Syrian prison archipelago, and were now identified as among the victims of the brutal Damascus regime.


At the very moving ceremony held in the grand Nuremberg Opera House some excellent orchestral music of a contemporary Syrian-American composer, Kareem Routom, and a powerful address by a French journalist, Garance Le Caisne, who accepted the award on Caeser’s behalf, expressing strong sentiments of admiration for his courage, the importance of such documentation, as well as reminding the audience that other political actors in the complex Syrian descent into Hell these past six years were also responsible for atrocities against the civilian population of Syria, although there seems to be agreement among specialists that the Assad regime is responsible for upwards of 90% of civilian casualties.


There were also well-crafted speeches by Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, which had convincingly documented the authenticity of Caesar’s photographs, and Stephen Rapp, a former American ambassador, who had been a chief prosecutor at the international criminal trials held in the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide and at the Special Court constituted to address crimes committed in the Ivory Coast.


The speeches of Roth and Rapp focused on the desirability of bringing Bashar al-Assad to trial as a war criminal, and the formidable obstacles to doing so. This naturally led me to think about the legacy of the Nuremberg Trials held nearby in this city in 1945. The Nuremberg Judgment found all but three of the 22 Nazi leaders being prosecuted as guilty of war crimes, with twelve sentence to death, three to life imprisonment, four to long-term imprisonment, while three were actually acquitted. Ever since the Nuremberg trials and verdict have been memorialized as not only punishing those guilty of the most evil imaginable behavior but also for establishing the legal principle that those who act on behalf of a sovereign state, even at its highest levels of political leadership and military command, remain subject to accountability for severe violations of international criminal law. The overall significance of this experience was given an authoritative formulation in the Nuremberg Principles adopted by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the International Law Commission in 1947 [GA Res. 177(II)]. The trial was also praised at the time for providing the defendants with due process of law, which was reflected in the sentences that distinguished degrees of individual guilt and variations in the quality of incriminating evidence in the minds of the judges.


There was also a certain moral and political ambiguity that created dark clouds in the skies above the Nuremberg Proceedings in 1945 that most commentators at the time refrained from noticing lest the party be spoiled. The defendants were not allowed to excuse their actions or even make reference to war crimes of the victorious nations in the war, which engaged in a variety of tactics, especially strategic indiscriminate bombings intended to terrorize and demoralize the civilian populations of Germany. Such tactics cannot be reconciled with international law or international morality.


This impunity of the accusers became more difficult to obscure in the companion Tokyo War Crimes Trials held against surviving Japanese leaders, especially in view of the use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki despite indications that Japan was at the time prepared negotiate terms of surrender similar to what was agreed upon following the atomic attacks. There is little doubt that if either the Germans or Japanese had used atomic bombs against Allied cities, and then later lost the war, such acts would have been criminalized in a confident and convincing manner. It not surprising that within Japan, in particular, critics described the war crimes trials as ‘victors’ justice.’ As well, there was a long dissent and finding of ‘not guilty’ by the Indian judge on the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal stressing the inclusiveness of evidence charging the Japanese defendants with aggression (‘Crimes Against Peace’) in view of the pre-war policies of economic strangulation pursued by the United States. Unlike Nuremberg, the Tokyo tribunal included judges other than those drawn from the ranks of the four main victorious Allied powers in the European theater of combat. For many years it was almost impossible to find Judge Radhabinod Pal’s lengthy opinion in even the best American libraries. In Japan Pal is honored to this day, including a statue to his memory in the notorious Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japan’s war dead and serving recently as a rallying cry for the rebirth of a version of Japanese militarized nationalism.


There were several notable attempts to find a middle ground to address this moral and legal deficiency at the heart of what was achieved at Nuremberg. The chief American prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson (previously a member of the U.S. Supreme Court) indicated in his historic closing statement that the validity of the Nuremberg results would be tested in the future by whether the countries that pass judgment against these Nazi defendants abide by the same framework of accountability relevant to their future behavior. The eminent German philosopher, Karl Jaspers, argued in a similar vein that the punishments inflicted on these German defendants will be regarded as justified if and only if those governments that imposed the punishments uphold similar standards with respect to the future behavior of their own political and military leaders.


We all should know that the loophole of victors’ justice has not been closed. Quite the contrary, the United States and Russia, the two main victors in World War II, have done their best to obstruct any development of international criminal law that might hamper their freedom of maneuver, and refused all efforts at accountability that might apply to their own leaders or those of their allies, while still self-righteously pressing the case for imposing criminal responsibility on adversaries.


Syria and the Nuremberg ceremony fit into this ambiguous legacy, suggesting the relevance of this concern. The Roth/Rapp speeches were exclusively directed at ‘the enemy,’ without even considering whether there should be criminal responsibility imposed on other actors, including the United States. It has always been the case that the Western liberal temperament, especially as orchestrated by Washington, pushes ahead with the implementation of international criminal law without ever compromising the geopolitical structure that imposes responsibility selectively while invoking the authority of law with great moral pretension. Such a dynamic confuses law with power, and somehow turns a blind eye to the uncomfortable realization that law is not fully law that treats equals unequally.


It can be argued that so long as the law is applied in accordance with due process against those that have committed severe crimes it is reasonable to claim that justice is being served. Surely, we should not shed tears for Bashar al-Assad should he ever be hauled into court to defend against his documented record of bloody atrocities committed over and over again against his own people. Not tears, but still concerns that such proceedings give the high moral and legal ground to the most dangerous and powerful political actors whose behavior remains outside the law. Besides the misleading jurisprudential character of geopolitically grounded impunity, there is the impression created that the West remains the guardian of civilized values although it has been more responsible during the last several centuries for far more massive human suffering than those being solemnly apprehended.


One final observation: this gap in the implementation of international criminal law has been challenged by civil society initiatives, starting with the Bertrand Russell Tribunal organized during the Vietnam War. This symbolic

contribution to the idea of international criminal responsibility has been carried forward over the years, above all, by the Permanent Peoples Tribunal established in 1976 under the inspirational leadership of the Italian jurist, Lelio Basso. A variety of independent initiatives along these lines have occurred over the years at times when neither governments nor the UN would respond to either war crimes or severe violations of human rights. As important as these events have been in keeping the flame of global justice burning, there is no capacity to make these judgments enforceable or otherwise challenge the discretionary prerogatives of geopolitical actors and repressive governmental regimes. The gap remains. The human costs remain.


In Nuremberg it is unavoidable to reflect upon the distinctive history of the city. This history weighs heavily not only on the minds of visitors but more tellingly on the city’s citizens in several notable respects. First, and above all, is the association of the city with the Nuremberg Rallies held each year on the vast parade grounds and surrounding park. Secondly, there are the notorious Nuremberg Laws that first formalized the anti-Semitic persecution directed at Jews. Thirdly, is the keen awareness, especially on the part of older residents, that 90% of the old city of Nuremberg was destroyed by the Allied bombing campaign. Thirdly, in the early years after 1945 there was a serious tension between those who wanted to forget the Nazi past of the city and those who insisted on remembrance, remorse, and the extensive documentation of the horrors. Fourthly, what prevailed in the end was the view that the symbolic role Nuremberg played in the rise and practice of Nazism and Hitler throughout Germany should be fully exhibited, but accompanied by the careful avoidance of any glorification of Nazi pageantry. For instance, the museum dedicated to the Nazi experience is called ‘a documentation center,’ and its architecture is intended to convey a sense of violation and menace. There is also a reluctance to show Leni Riefenstahl’s extraordinary propaganda film, “The Triumph of the Will” for an acknowledged fear that it might stimulate feelings of nostalgia rather than remorse. Finally, for those willing to probe a bit more deeply into the Nuremberg story in bygone centuries one encounters a disquieting series of pre-modern incidents of anti-Semitic persecution of Jews, common throughout Europe at the time, but still inevitably part of the history of this now vibrant and seemingly normal city.

35 Responses to “Visiting Nuremberg, Reflecting on the Ambiguous Legacies of Nuremberg”

  1. anan October 2, 2017 at 7:49 am #

    If I could change the topic a little; I am deeply worried about the rising hatred of Jews in Europe.

    One of the brightest lights of the great muslim world, Maajid Nawaz speaks about it here:

    Do you think this hatred of Jews will lead to another anti Jewish pogrom in Europe soon? Do you think that the hatred of Jews will similarly lead to hatred of other minorities (Asian, Arab, Muslims, Persians, Azerbaijani, Armenian etc.)

  2. Beau Oolayforos October 3, 2017 at 1:48 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    Assad’s torture chambers have been there for a long time – wasn’t his father guilty of similar? He was a convenient ally in 1990, so the horrors were overlooked. Hence the CIA’s decision to jump into the intoxication of Arab Spring? How do the dungeons of Syria compare to those of Saudi Arabia or Egypt?

    If we want to claim moral ground, we might start with trying to mitigate the carnage in Yemen, and treating the cholera outbreak. But we do arms deals instead.

  3. Expose the criminal zionist jews October 3, 2017 at 7:36 am #

    anon is a zionist throll. “I am deeply worried about the rising hatred of Jews in Europe.” is nothing but HOAX. Someone in Europe responded to this lie:

    “Wrap you holocaust and shove it up”

  4. Rick Sterling October 3, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    It’s unfortunate that Prof Falk and his wife believe the deception and disinformation about Syria exemplified in the well funded hoax known as “Caesar”. There is an expose of “Caesar” here: Interested readers who care about Syrian “Justice and Accountability” should be aware that the campaign was launched at the initiative of Hillary Clinton following on her wonderful success in Libya. Regarding Nuremburg, international law, and Syria the former Nicaraguan FM Miguel D’Escoto was accurate and clear: through its funding of the armed opposition in Syria, the US and allies are committing the ‘supreme crime … the initiation of war’. The campaign to try the leader of a country which is truly under attack and operating in self-defense (unlike Israel) while ignoring the supreme crime of aggression by the Gulf States, Turkey, Israel and the West ….is a travesty of justice.

    • Denis Rancourt October 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

      I agree with Rick Sterling’s criticism of Professor Falk’s words regarding Syria. I hope that Professor Falk will reconsider his statements and outlook. –Dr. Denis Rancourt, Researcher, Ontario Civil Liberties Association (

  5. down with Assad's enemies October 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    You still are either confused or an imposter. Look what people are saying about tow CIA agent – Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel and their garbage pose as ‘professors’ in the service of the mass murderers zionists and imperialists. You cooperated with these mass murderers so payam akhavan a CIA/MI6/Mossad behind licker, all three have supported every war these mass murderers waged. You should be ashamed of yourself. Someone at the age of 84 who cannot distinguish bad from good cannot be trusted.

    [But far too often the demand to “do something” sidesteps what has already been done — there is a foundational assumption that the ruin and bloodshed of this terrible war have been produced by inaction.
    Take as an example Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, heads of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. Their edited collection, The Syria Dilemma, hopes to present an “array of contending perspectives [reflecting] the profound dilemma that Syria confronts us with.”

    What perspectives have they set into contention with one another? Most are united by a call for some projection of American power. Familiar interventionist tropes are presented. Responsibility to Protect (R2P) receives frequent mention. The book cites the Bosnia example at least eight times, along with mentions of Rwanda.

    This isn’t unique to discussions about Syria. Policy wonks, such as Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, see the example of Bosnia — indeed, of the total breakup of Yugoslavia — as a sound precedent for American policy goals in Syria. In a paper dated June 2015, O’Hanlon places Bosnia alongside Afghanistan and Somalia as a desirable model for the fragmentation he recommends for Syria.

    In addition to a “confederate” Syria that could entail all-out partition, O’Hanlon calls for increased intervention in the form of guns and training provided to selected Syrian opposition outfits, protective safe zones governed by US troops, and the demolition of the existing government air force. For O’Hanlon, the problem with US policy in Syria is that it hasn’t gone nearly far enough.]

    Nader Hashemi now has written a book full of propaganda based on HOAX , where Jadalyya, which is an internet propagada oulet erected by CIA, to fool the dummies. Nader Hashemi and Postel have supported every single war of the neocon jews. Postel’s wife is another CIA servant and agent

    Jadalyya like Paris review, is CIA, Saudi funded

  6. Mike 71 October 4, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    On an historical note, no leaders of the Luftwaffe were prosecuted for the mass area bombings of Polish, or Soviet targets during World War II, nor was Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris, Commander of British Bomber Command, who promulgated the policy of night carpet bombing of German cities. Evolving technology has changed military tactics, making carpet bombing obsolete, particularly when a few precision GPS directed bombs can take out major targets while significantly reducing “collateral damage.”

    Turning to current events, the genocidal nature of the Assad regime is well documented, not only by foreign observers, but also Syrian dissidents, such as the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the “White Helmets,” who engage in rescue missions at the risk of their own lives and at their own expense. But for Russian intervention, the Assad regime would have been overthrown by the dissidents which Russia targeted, rather than the Islamic State/Daesh, which was targeted primarily by the Americans, Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish Pesh Merga.

    Blaming Syria’s predicament on the C.I.A., MI-6 and “Zionists,” is the type of anti-Semitic claptrap of which Maajid Nawaz complains of in the above video condemning the British Labour Party, which has become a nest of anti-Semites, from Jeremy Corbyn on down. Nawaz makes clear the distinction between criticism of the policies of the Israeli government, while condemning as anti-Semitism, the right of Israel to exist as a nation-state. Certainly, the IDF/IAF does conduct periodic bombings of Syrian targets, not to affect the outcome of the Syrian Civil War, but to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, which would be used against Israel. As provided under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Israel engages in its “inherent right to individual, or collective self-defense.”

    • Richard Falk October 4, 2017 at 1:45 am #

      You make some important points, including the observation about the treatment of strategic bombing at Nuremberg.

      I will unblock this comment despite the defamatory comments about Jeremy Corbyn and the British Labour Party. I know Corbyn and
      he is as far from being an anti-Semite as you are; it would be constructive, and in the interest of Jews, and even Israel, to stop
      conflating Israeli critics or Palestinian supporters with anti-Semites. None of these critics deny the right of Israel, at this point,
      to exist as a nation-state, but they do deny the right to be ‘a Jewish state,’ because that entails harsh suppression of non-Jews, always has
      and always will.

      • Fred Skolnik October 4, 2017 at 5:28 am #

        Why aren’t you telling us that Turkey has the right to exist as a nation-state but not as a Turkish state.

      • Richard Falk October 4, 2017 at 10:01 am #

        If Turkey had a discriminatory right of return based on internal nationality laws that distinguished between Muslim
        Turks and non-Muslim Turks as Israel does with respect to Jews and non-Jews, especially Palestinians, I wouldn’t be making
        this assertion. Israel is entitled to be a state, but not a Jewish state as this is understood and applied over the entire
        history of the country, using nationality laws to create a discriminatory structure that is extreme in concept and application.

      • Mike 71 October 4, 2017 at 8:14 am #


        No one denies the right of the Iranians to declare their state as an “Islamic Republic,” as the majority of Iranians are Muslims. What about the minority of Iranians who are Christians, Jews, Ba’ Hai, or other faiths? Doesn’t that declaration of being an “Islamic State” infringe on their rights, as you claim the 80% majority of Jewish Israelis infringes on the rights of the 20% non-Jewish minority? Why are Israelis held to one standard, while Iranians and others are held to one very different one?

        What about other religiously oriented states, such as Vatican City, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church? Should it be denied the right to declare itself a Catholic entity because not all of its residents are Catholic? What about Saudi-Arabia, which while not declaring itself an “Islamic Kingdom,” infringes on the rights of Christians and other non-Wahhabis to practice their faiths?

        I support the right of Palestinians to a state, or perhaps more preferable two states of their own, one Islamist in Gaza and one secular in the West Bank. They should have the same right to affirm the nature of their state(s), just as Israel or Iran does. The path to Palestinian statehood is set forth in UNSCR 242, which requires:

        “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and the right to live in. peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

        The so-called “occupation” of disputed land persists as the Palestinians have declined to engage in direct negotiations to create a Palestinian state, or states. Such negotiations would directly contravene the founding documents of both the P.L.O. and Hamas, which call for eradication of Israel. See: and To out it in terms that you are probably more familiar with, Israel has engaged in “armed struggle/armed self-defense” since 1948.

      • Richard Falk October 4, 2017 at 9:57 am #


        This seems disingenuous. You must be aware that via Israel’s nationality laws to be a Jewish state embeds the right of return to Israel of Jews wherever
        situated in the world and however minimal their contact is, while for non-Jews, especially Palestinians, there is no right to return even if deep connections.
        Other countries do not use their legal system in that way, or base their identity as a state on such a discriminatory idea of ethnic & religious identity.

      • Richard Falk October 5, 2017 at 3:38 am #

        I will block your serial comments of a highly contentious nature. I do not want this kind of
        virtriolic debate on this website. Please use your alternative website for such purposes.

      • Mike 71 October 5, 2017 at 6:52 am #


        Exposing flaws in your logic is hardly “contentious.” Perhaps, it your inability to provide a rational explanation for application of “double standards” as to why Iranians are entitled to define their nation as an “Islamic Republic,” while Israelis are not similarly entitled to define their nation, which is 80% ethnically Jewish, as a “Jewish State,” which has you upset! Exposing hypocrisy is embarrassing, Isn’t it?

      • Richard Falk October 5, 2017 at 7:42 am #

        Your analysis is riddled with contradictions. The idea of an exclusive Jewish right of return was embedded in Zionist
        ideology and practice from its earliest stages, when Jews were a small minority in Palestine. The idea of establishing
        a Jewish state in Palestine was completely dependent on the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians, what they rightly call
        the nakba. There is nothing comparable in the proclamation of an Islamic Republic in Iran, and by the way, I do not like that
        either, nor do non-Muslims. The modern multi-ethnic state to be legitimate needs to be neutral as far as ethnicity and religion
        are concerned.

      • Fred Skolnik October 4, 2017 at 10:49 am #

        As you surely know, Prof. Falk, dozens of national states have immigration laws favoring their own expatriate “ethnic” nationials over national minorities and anyone else – Germans for ethnic Germans living abroad, Greece for ethnic Greeks, etc. etc. As for Turkey, few countries can match it for its suppression of its Kurdish national minority, making even the use of their language in public a treasonable offense! Compared to the Kurds, Israeli Arabs are living in paradise and the fact is that the vast majority of them would refuse to live under Palestinian sovereignty in any land trade-off.

      • Richard Falk October 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

        As usual, you are changing the subject. The reality is that there is nothing in the world resembling
        the Israeli ethnically based unrestricted right of return coupled with its absolute denial to non-Jews.

      • Richard Falk October 5, 2017 at 3:39 am #

        I do not want this kind continuous contentious comments on this website. As I have pointed out in the
        past there are many online alternatives, including many that exclude all criticism of Israel.

      • Fred Skolnik October 5, 2017 at 5:36 am #

        I see that you are still using the censorship option whenever one of your assertions explodes in your face. Disagreement is not contentiousness, especially in view of the extreme allegations you habitually make. You can hide my remarks from your followers but you can’t hide them from yourself: dozens of countries have immigration laws that favor their own expatriate nationals over national minorities and everyone else. To ignore this and continue to assert that Israel is alone in this demonstrates a monumental lack of integrity on your part.

      • Richard Falk October 5, 2017 at 8:20 am #

        Whether alone or not is beside the point. The Israeli nationality laws discriminate openly against non-Jews, and this
        in a situation where Jews were a small minority at the time of the Balfour Declaration, and succeeded in altering the
        demographic balance by massive ethnic cleansing in the 1948 War, the experience aptly called ‘the nakba’ by Palestinians.
        The only path to peace that exists is to establish genuine equality between Jews and Palestinians, and this means ending
        all forms of subjugation of the Palestinian people. Officials in Israel are increasingly open about claiming the biblical
        entitlement of ‘the promised land,’ which means ‘Greater Israel,’ and if need be doing away with the formal pretensions of
        being a constitutional democracy.Your integrity is reducible to ethnic chauvinism.

      • Fred Skolnik October 6, 2017 at 1:09 am #

        Is this contentious too, or would you just rather not deal with anything that spoils the argument?

      • Richard Falk October 6, 2017 at 2:07 am #

        I know it hardly matters what I say, but my decisions to block you is the repetition of discredited arguments.
        I welcome constructive disagreement, and have always been ready to learn from those interested in genuine dialogue.
        I consider you & Mike to be Zionist ideologues predominantly intent on discrediting critics of Israel’s policies and practices, and
        thus not engaged in a good faith manner. I view your responses about the ‘right of return’ in this manner. Obscuring the issue by
        referring to alleged Arab wrongs and to non-analogous practices with respect to immigration in other countries. You also are totally
        unwilling to acknowledge what any objective observer readily grasps–the relevance of the settler-colonial origins of the Zionist
        Project from at least 1917, if not before.

    • No collonists in occupied land of Palestine October 4, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

      {Turning to current events, the genocidal nature of the Assad regime is well documented, not only by foreign observers, but also Syrian dissidents, such as the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the “White Helmets,” who engage in rescue missions at the risk of their own lives and at their own expense.}

      Only zionists can write these lies not knowing (or pretending as ignorant) that both ‘Syrian Observatory for HW” and White Helmets are funded and erected by MI6 and CIA.
      It is enough to do a quick search on the net to get hundreds of article against these two western intelligence outlets.

      Israel has no right to exist in Palestinian stolen land.

  7. No collonists in occupied land of Palestine October 4, 2017 at 1:56 pm #

    ideo: US Air Strikes in Support of ISIS-Daesh? Syria Forces Counter-attack against Terrorists

  8. causticlogic October 5, 2017 at 3:39 am #

    I hope my last comment is pending approval and not lost – I only had most of that work saved in a text file.

  9. causticlogic October 5, 2017 at 3:51 am #

    Hi, Professor Falk. I’m following along with what Rick and Denis say, and upping it a bit.

    I’ve done probably more study on the “Caesar photos” than anyone else. Horrible abuses definitely appear, and the scale of death is simply appalling. As they say, there are nearly 6,700 men and boys (and one token woman) included, all dead before September, 2013, just in or near the Damascus area. The photos don’t show as much torture as they make it sound like, but lots of starvation, extreme bondage, and severe neglect, and one way or another a mountain of death. It seems systematic, but whose system produced it?

    Much of the work I’ve done is compiled here in long and tedious sub-posts, with some of the graphic images included
    Be sure to skim:
    – part 1, for an important “duh” moment some people need, to start at doubting this “defector who risked his life” and his nonsensical code-name story.
    – part 6 with sub-parts explains who I suspect the photo victims really are (it’s a bit of a mix, and includes almost no apparent opposition fighters (but then, about 40% of the unidentified bodies in this span are not shown for some reason))
    – part 9 as a side-note of some strength might help put the frequently-seen lashing in context
    – part 10 considers why Damascus hasn’t come out with their own explanation, and asks for a little enlightenment from their end.

    My basic theory based on what I’ve seen:
    1) Local terrorists captured many people – soldiers, families of officials, Alawi and other minorities, etc. in very large numbers back in 2012 and 2013. A huge number were taken by and/or bought up by one group, probably the openly sectarian and genocidal Saudi-backed Liwa al-Islam (as then known), now called Jaish al-Islam, whose political leader Mohamed Alloush is (or was) running the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiating Committee in Geneva.
    2) The terrorists exterminated the prisoners in bulk, scribbled fake ‘regime prisoner” numbers on their foreheads, and dumped them in batches somewhere government forces would find and have to deal with them. They would process the corpses as unidentified, document them as found, and bury them. Each one would get a sequential unidentified body #, to help locate their file and grave.
    2a) This applies to the 6,700 supposed prisoners, which account for the visible 60% (and probably no more) of the unidentified bodies processed – at least 10,000 total, said to be over 11,000. “Caesar” shows us the bulk they made look like prisoners, but not others, like killed militants, massacred or exterminated women and children they found, etc., who had no “prisoner #s” scribbled on them)
    3) The photos shown are not official ones, but “Caesar’s” own special sessions, where he shows the bodies, their unidentified # (likely genuine), and also confirms on a file card their fake prisoner number. Now it all looks like part of the official system.
    4) I suspect this Islamist insider “Caesar” proved his capabilities to the local Islamist militants shortly before November, 2012. From then until the end of photos in August, 2013, unidentified bodies came in at a rate of about 1,000 per month. Now that it could me made into an “Assad regime” crime, they set about making it a big one.
    5) Not well-explained yet, a majority of the victims seem to have been killed in bulk with a horrible caustic chemical, chlorine or phosphine perhaps. They have damaged airways, often deep purple cyanosis from the lack of oxygen, frequent skin burns, and damaged, bleeding eyes. Many seem to have been left coughing blood and mucous up their faces as they hung upside-down. I suspect this was done in gas chambers run by the militants.
    5b) Why? Unclear. Maybe just to be efficient, but it probably wasn’t. Maybe it was planned to say “Assad” was gassing people, but this was dropped. Team Caesar and all their supporters have so far failed to notice or mention this important aspect. Maybe it was partly done for practice…
    6) And quite troubling: Caesar suddenly grew worried, collected his last photos, and left town on August 20, 2013, as he says. Just hour later, hundreds of captives were gassed in basements across Ghouta (same basic area most bodies probably came from), shown off and blamed on a regime sarin attack, as we heard killing at least 1,429 people. It’s as if Caesar heard the chemical campaign was about to take a different turn, just as UN-OPCW “inspectors” arrived (to investigate claims of Islamist sarin use back in March). A “red line” was to be crossed, bombs might fall soon, and maybe someone told “Caesar” he should get out of town. His plan B propaganda package was big enough.

    Considering point 5, the sick irony of this award you were sadly mired in is this: a man who seems to be laundering a chemical genocide in Syria was given the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. And of course “Human Rights Watch” (too frequently Human Wrongs Whitewash) was there to cheer it on. Such are the ways of an upside-down world.

    Hoping I’ve got you unsettled and maybe pissed off, but that your day is otherwise great. Also taking questions if you have any.

    Adam Larson
    A Closer Look On Syria, Monitor on Massacre Marketing

    • Richard Falk October 5, 2017 at 8:13 am #

      Dear Adam Larson:

      I have read with care your detailed comment, and it does present a disturbing picture that collides
      with what my post conveyed. It does induce what I call ‘an ethic of suspicion,’ but I am not an expert
      on the complex debate about responsibility in Syria. I have from this perspective opposed Western intervention,
      but do not doubt the responsibility of the Damascus regime for many atrocities. In the post I recorded my impressions
      of the event in Nuremberg, and I claim neither more nor less on that basis.

  10. David Macilwain October 5, 2017 at 5:21 am #

    I think it’s important to realise that the Caesar story is only relevant in building a case against the Syrian government if one believes in the plethora of other stories that the opposition regime changers have devised to push their case in Western societies. As an unashamed supporter of President Assad, in common with the majority of the Syrian population, as well as of the SAA, Hezbollah, Russia and Iran who have helped to fight off the violent foreign-backed and inspired insurgency, I have no hesitation in dismissing this concocted and twisted story as just another ‘barrel bombs’ or ‘chemical weapons’ fake. We need to look beyond the simplistic and ridiculous idea that President Assad has been ‘killing his own people’. Would this include his own soldiers – all 75,000 odd of them?
    Why can we not see how the terrorist armies put there by the US and its local agents are the cause of the dreadful killings, and that cutting off the supply of arms and food to these groups from Turkey and Jordan would have stopped them years ago?
    It’s also worth pointing out that there is one country which the terrorist groups, IS and Al Nusra, have no trouble with, and which even gives them hospital and military assistance – ISRAEL.
    The Palestinian people are now waking up to this truth, and its time for their supporters in the West to wake up too.
    I much appreciate your years of struggle for the Palestinians Professor Falk, but on this question I’m afraid you are terribly misled.

  11. causticlogic October 6, 2017 at 2:48 am #

    Dear Professor Falk;
    thank you for publishing that comment and for your careful consideration and thoughtful response.

    Your article is very thought-provoking by the way. The event sickens me, so thanks for the notes. And as for the history, I learned some. This victor’s justice, the one-sided pursuit of punishment against enemies while absolving one’s self and one’s allies is a serious problem I’ve been concerned with. It’s gotten downright flippant in recent years, and with weak enough adversaries. The weakest and weirdest allegations are accepted with no question, if they’re lodged against the likes of Assad, Gaddafi, Hussein, Milosevic, Yanukovych, Mubarak, Saleh, Maduro, etc. All one has to do is call on the precedent of all the other allegations they’ve already accepted, and again cry for regime change.

    Opposing intervention based on not knowing how to apportion blame accurately – that’s much better than being for intervention from the same position, as so many are, not realizing their lack of knowledge.

    For what it’s worth and not to argue, I don’t think the Syrian government are angels, but not demons either. The bloody record is a bit overdramatic to say the least, and it really seems to be at least 90% false blame, and enabled terrorists are actually behind all of it. My research says the other side who can fob off anything are responsible for this, for the all the CW incidents, for in-home massacres like Houla, and the rest. Syria probably never shot peaceful protesters to force an armed uprising, nor used their Shabiha militias to pursue genocide against the Sunnis, requiring an armed uprising. The people who wanted an armed uprising (foreign-backed Sunni extremists) are the natural suspects, and the ones at whom the best evidence points. Over and over.

    There’s no guarantee this view is completely correct, but at least it’s much more informed than most.

    Also agreed mostly with David. I’d add there’s also Turkey even more clearly, but Israel too. It bombs Syria at will, assassinates important allies at every chance, credits and promotes the allegations against Syria, repairs damaged Islamists … and some here call supporters of Assad obvious Zionists. (laughing sounds)

    • Mike 71 October 11, 2017 at 2:16 am #

      The Soviet Union was opposed to holding any form of “war crimes trials;” they would have lined up the surviving officials of the Third Reich against a wall and summarily execute them all.

      That would have been “Victors’ Justice.”

      Nuremberg established the Nuremberg Principles and a body of law, while far from perfect, set the precedents which became the basis for later war crimes trials.

  12. anan October 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm #

    Prof Falk, I learn a lot from your dialogue with Mike and Fred. Dialogue is the only facilitate the rise and welfare of Palestinians; and your commitment to it demonstrates your own good intentions and desire to help Palestinians. Without more dialogue and interaction between Palestinians and other Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis, Israelis and Israelis . . . how can things get better?

    “I know it hardly matters what I say, but my decisions to block you is the repetition of discredited arguments.” Let them keep using discredited arguments. If you love Palestine, isn’t this a price you have to pay? Not everyone is as smart as you are. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to help them.

    “I welcome constructive disagreement, and have always been ready to learn from those interested in genuine dialogue.” Very good!

    “I consider you & Mike to be Zionist ideologues predominantly intent on discrediting critics of Israel’s policies and practices, and thus not engaged in a good faith manner.”
    I don’t think this is so. I am trying to learn from them about their own perspectives to generate new and creative ideas to facilitate the rise of Palestine.

    “I view your responses about the ‘right of return’ in this manner. Obscuring the issue by
    referring to alleged Arab wrongs and to non-analogous practices with respect to immigration in other countries.” I don’t understand. Shouldn’t both Israel and Arab countries greatly improve their immigration and other policies? Shouldn’t both Israel and the Arab countries treat Palestinians much better?

    “You also are totally unwilling to acknowledge what any objective observer readily grasps–the relevance of the settler-colonial origins of the Zionist Project from at least 1917, if not before.” Let us test this by asking. I think Jews had a right to buy property in Palestine and move to Palestine during the Ottoman and UK mandate period. Much the way I think people should have the right to buy property in and move to other countries (other than Israel and Palestine). As a free market globalist, I believe in the mobility of global capital and labor.

    Unless we can work with Fred and Mike; how can Palestinians work with Israelis? No matter what happens in the future; Palestinians and Israelis are stuck in the hip together in a symbiotic interdependent relationship. They need to draw closer together.

    If Fred and Mike didn’t respect you as a well intentioned friend and well wisher of the great Israeli and Jewish peoples, I don’t think they would invest so much in dialogue with you.

  13. anan October 7, 2017 at 11:11 pm #

    The Panchan Lama was severely tortured by the Chinese for 25 years, after which the Chinese released him. The Dalai Lama asked the Panchan Lama if he was ever afraid. The Panchan Lama responded that he was afraid three times.

    There were three times he was afraid he might be angry or hate the Chinese. Fortunately he won those three times.

    Two other famous eastern quotes:

    “When, out of envy, others mistreat me with abuse, insults, or the like, I shall accept defeat and offer the victory to others.”

    “When someone whom I have benefited and in whom I have great hopes gives me terrible harm, I shall regard that person as my holy guru.”

    This is the Eastern way. This was also the way of the greatest Palestinian, Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus Christ).

    I am reminded of a quotation repeated by President Nixon:

    “others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

    Prof Falk, do you see this as a model for how Palestinians should treat Israelis? And for how Israelis should treat Palestinians?

    • Mike 71 October 11, 2017 at 2:38 am #


      Thank you for the words of wisdom from Richard Nixon. He did indeed destroy himself, and end his political career in disgrace. The pervasive hatred, which you cited, is indeed the penultimate barrier to resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Once the parties reject those pervasive hatreds, come to recognize the right of self-determination of the other and negotiate a two-state solution, the conflict will end. I hope that Prof. Falk would take them to heart.

      While either party demands the entirety of the land to the exclusion of the other, the conflict will continue. In the words of Thucydides, Historian of the Peloponnesian War, as cited in the Melian Dialogue, “the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”

      • Richard Falk October 12, 2017 at 2:02 am #

        If you read the whole of Thucydides’ History you will discover that the famous Melian Dialogue
        was not a testimony to realist wisdom, but a commentary of Athenian moral decline. It is often
        misconstrued by the Kissingers of this world to underlie the claim that hard power of a military
        variety is the dominant agent of change and control throughout history.

  14. Laurie Knightly October 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    The photos that were shown do not prove the case. The torture photos of US and Israel actually show cruel torture being practiced, by whom, with leadership approval, and willing enforcers. There have been many deaths involved. Obama would not allow a release of the scenes reported to be more grisly as they would ’cause incitement’. The Carter Ruck Group was commissioned by Qatar – and their rejected pipeline, religious differences, political alliances etc could have been a factor in their sudden phony concern for human rights in Syria. Pictures of arranged bodies in a hospital courtyard, photographed with approval, and a wide variety of scenes in combat do not substantiate the claims cited here. Do I understand that 27 photos were actually studied? Did any show people being tortured, who they are//represent, and mention that Syria is experiencing a revolution?

    The US exports its heinous torture to other countries – Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Afghanistan, Thailand and an unwilling Cuba. The men held at Guantanamo without charges against them are a torture. Nuremberg is a tribunal – not a kangaroo court. Also, Hafez Assad was fighting the Muslim Brotherhood which had attempted his assassination 3 times and killed 71 young cadets etc etc . This is an organization with a sordid history.

    Whatever the truth is, these revelations have many questions and very few answers. Hopefully, the public is becoming less gullible with the very serious fabrications and lies that have been subsequently exposed. Small wonder that many of us have become cynics.

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