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A number of people who called St. Louis home were active participants in and around the Nuremberg Trials.



One of the most prominent was WHITNEY HARRIS. A lawyer, he was a Chief Prosecutor at the Trials. He led his legal team’s case against Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the highest ranking member of the Nazi Security Police to be charged. His book, TYRANNY ON TRIAL: The Evidence At Nurember is one of the most significant and comprehensive works published about the Trials. Harris moved to St. Louis in 1963, as General Solicitor for Southwestern Bell. A lecturer at Washington University, Harris was active in seminars and other programs at the school right up until his death in 2010, when he passed at the age of 97. During his time in St. Louis, Harris was active in many local charities, and endowed programs at Washington University. Today, the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute continues work and research on his interests and initiatives at Washington U.

Prior to, and after World War II, HENRY GERECKE was a missionary and chaplain in prisons and city jails in the St. Louis area. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, Gerecke was the Pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in St. Louis. During World War II, Gerecke was one of 250 Lutheran pastors from the Missouri Synod who joined the army to become army chaplains. From 1943 through the end of the War, Gerecke was at American hospitals in London, administering to up to 2,000 new wounded and dying GIs per month, shipping in from the battlefields of Europe. And after the war ended, Gerecke was assigned to the Nuremberg Trials, where he became the sole chaplain for the first group of accused Nazi war criminals. He counseled such high-ranking Nazis as Goering, Speer and von Ribbentrop, for many of them right up to their executions (or in Goering’s case, suicide.) After the war, Gerecke returned to the Midwest. He died in 1961in Chester, Illinois, while serving as a part-time pastor, and a death row minister at a maximum security prison. Gerecke is the subject of a recent book, MISSION AT NUREMBERG: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend, former Post-Dispatch writer, now at the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.

As a young girl, HEDY EPSTEIN, a German Jew, was saved by a Kindertransport to England. Her entire family perished in The Holocaust. In 1945, she returned to Germany where she served as a Research Analyst during the Nuremberg Trials for Doctors who worked with the Nazis. She immigrated to the United States after the Trials, eventually to St. Louis in the 60’s. Here, she worked tirelessly for numerous causes - affordable housing, employment discrimination, Pro Choice movements - and against overly restrictive U.S. immigration policies. 3 days before her 90th Birthday, she was arrested for failure to disperse during demonstrations protesting police tactics crowds during the Michael Brown case. Hedy died in St. Louis at the age of 91 in 2016. Her motto: “Remember the past. Don’t hate. Don’t be a bystander.”

RICHARD L. STOKES was a St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer with an interest in entertainment. He covered ROBIN HOOD, the opening show of the Muny’s first season in 1919 for the Post. He was transferred to the Washington, D.C. bureau of the Post in the prewar years, and in his spare time wrote for the stage - the libretto for the opera MERRY MOUNT, which premiered at the Metropolitan Opera, starring Lawrence Tibbett; a play about BENEDICT ARNOLD, written in heroic couplets; and PAUL BUNYAN, a folk comedy - as well as a biography of Leon Blum, the three-time Prime Minister of France, whose opposition to the Nazis landed him in Buchenwald. Stokes landed with the Allied forces on D-Day, and accompanied them on their journey to Berlin. He then covered the Nuremberg Trials extensively, delivering news of the proceedings, and perspective on the outcome.

The discovery of these amazing people, and their contributions to the victory over Nazi Germany during World War II and after, underlines the truly global effort the War became. Every citizen of the world had to deal with the work and sacrifice, the tragedy and triumphs of this epoch time. Sobering. And glorious.


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Revised: October, 2007
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