San Diego International Law Journal

Document Type



This Article analyzes the Kharkov trial, the first trial of Nazi war criminals undertaken by any Allied Power, as well as the first trial of the Holocaust. It is written on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Kharkov trial. Part II, as background, describes the Holocaust as experienced in Kharkov, Ukraine. Part III discusses the trial that took place in Kharkov: the defendants, the prosecution, the setting, and the testimony. Part IV looks at the Kharkov trial as a typical Stalinist “show trial,” where guilt has been predetermined and a trial is used merely as a show to its audience of the presupposed wrongdoings of the defendants. In this discussion, Part IV will also explore the trial’s three audiences, the absence of the term “Jew” to identify the victims, and the lack of subsequent public Soviet trials of war criminals following the Kharkov trial. Part V explores the implications of the Kharkov trial on the subsequent Nuremberg Trials, later postwar Nazi trials in the Soviet Union, and the role of the Kharkov trial in the formation of history and memory of the Holocaust in the former territories of the Soviet Union. Part VI, the Conclusion, ends with a postscript—providing another distressing example, this one surrounding the Holocaust at Kharkov, of how many senior Nazis were never adequately punished for their crimes, with some even remembered fondly today.