When his party lost the 1945 election Maxwell Fyfe was out of office.
However his Liverpool colleague and friend, Hartley Shawcross, now Attorney General,
asked him to lead the UK prosecution team in Nuremberg.
It is hard to imagine a place more haunted than Nuremberg in October 1945.
The bombed streets stank of dead corpses; and those who survived starved.
The ghosts of those who attended the early Nazi rallies,
whose salute to victory must have still echoed through the city,
confronted by the ghosts of the victims of the war and the holocaust,
who had come to the Courthouse to demand justice.
One observer wrote of the stream of visitors who made their way to Nuremberg
during the year of the War Crimes Trials that
"All of the world seemed to have arranged a rendez-vous at Nuremberg."
It does not require a huge leap of imagination to perceive that all the after-world
may have arranged a similar rendez-vous.
In the presence of so many ghosts, even if they are now distantly remembered,
it is hard to know where to start in telling stories of the war crimes trials at Nuremberg.
The British War Crimes Executive, the body created by the government to deal with war criminals
were, in 1945, based in Church House, just around the corner from the Houses of Parliament
and the Maxwell Fyfe’s flat in Great Peter Street.
Darling, I shall write a little to-day and finish over the weekend
and take it down to Church House on Monday
in the hopes that this will reach you & that I will hear from you soon.
My dearest Angel, It is horrible being without you,
and, although I try and stand by our old ability to take it, the prospect is vile.
Really - these first 3 days have been so long that I hope sincerely that they will pass more quickly by and by.
We are in Zyrndorf, a village about 5 miles out. It is pleasant fine wood country and looks lovely today
I got your letter - with the greatest joy and relief - at teatime. I hope so much you got mine.
It seems less remote when I know the details of what you are doing
( I have never been away from them in 20 years)
My job is partly conducting a seemingly unending international conference, partly running a small department, partly commanding a military unit, and lastly getting a case up for trial.
As I was writing these words your sweet letter came which cheered me up enormously.
I could kill all the ruddy people who are being such a bore, it may be excellent for your psychology
but it makes me mad! If you don’t complain I know I mustn’t but time goes very slowly.
I have fixed a delegation conference at 9.15 each morning for allocating work and receiving reports.
This is a rather successful Nuremberg innovation, because everyone can bring up their thoughts and troubles, and it makes them feel that we are in the show together.
It sounds frightfully Weston Bros but it happens to work.
While Maxwell Fyfe worked in Nuremberg, Sylvia took care of constituency business in Liverpool.
Liverpool apparently went quite well.
I did a women’s meeting in the afternoon & visited all three of our wards in the evening.
Thank you for your magnificent doings in Liverpool.
You are a most amazing success - not the happiest adjective but you know what I mean.
The Russians threw the usual October revolution party which we have so often rushed through together
at the Soviet Embassy. I proposed the toast of the Red Army.
The interesting thought was to look back ten years and wonder what we should have said
if anyone had foretold that in 10 years I should have been proposing the health of the Red Army
in a conquered and shattered Nuremberg.
I have done the ‘inaugural’ meeting at Green Lane and a party given by the Councillors at Buckfield.
Everyone was perfectly charming and the men all treat me as one of themselves
so it will tide over till you return if I do it fairly often.
Your message which I read was a great success and I told them all a great deal about Nuremberg
in which they were most genuinely interested.
The letters speak of a violent desire to tell one another what is going on,
and perhaps, at least on Fyfe's part, to keep an informal record of extraordinary times.
But more they tell how Maxwell Fyfe found the strength to tackle the evidence of Nazi brutality.
SONG - THESE HEARTS
I went to a pre-view of the Russian film in Auschwitz concentration camp.
When one sees children of Mo's age and younger in this horrible place
and the clothes of infants who were killed,
it is worth a year of our lives to help to register for ever and with practical result the reasoned horror of humanity.
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
Washed with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness.
It is just as well that in respect of Nazi war crimes
the apologist of the future will be confronted by the admissions of the many found guilty,
and the mass of incriminating documents produced at the trials.
Dawn was theirs,
And the sunset, and the colours of the earth.
They had seen movement, heard music,
Till Honour lost its worth
Known slumber and waking; loved;
Had gone proudly friended;
Touched flowers, touched furs, touched cheeks; sat alone;
All this is ended
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