Monday, 11 May 2009

In memoriam: Henry T. King, Nuremberg Prosecutor

Henry T. King, Jr., who worked as a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial, died on Saturday, 9 May 2009, just a few weeks before his 90th birthday. Henry’s last televised speaking appearance was with me on a panel entitled “High Crimes, High Drama,” at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland on 10 December 2008 (
Henry was still working as a professor at the Case Western University School of Law at the time of his death. Michael Scharf, who directs the Cox Centre at Case, writes:
At the age of 25, fresh out of Yale Law School (B.A. 1941, LL.B. 1943), Henry
was hired as the youngest Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. At Nuremberg,
Henry worked on the Justice and Ministries cases, led the prosecution of former
Luftwaffe Field Marshall Erhard Milch, deputy head of the Luftwaffe under
Hermann Goering, in the High Command trial. Henry interrogated many of the major
Nuremberg defendants, including Albert Speer, who Henry later chronicled in a
critically acclaimed book, The Two Worlds of Albert Speer: Reflections of a
Nuremberg Prosecutor. (

Upon returning to the United States, Henry served as director of the Agency for
International Development during the Eisenhower Administration, and worked as a
chief corporate international counsel for more than twenty years with TRW Inc.,
and later was of counsel at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP. He then joined
the faculty of Case Western Reserve, where he taught International Business and
International Arbitration, both favorites of our students that consistently had
long wait lists.

Through the conferences he organized in the late 1980s
as Chairman of the Canada-United States Law Institute, Henry played an integral
role in facilitating the drafting and negotiation of the North American Free
Trade Agreement.

In 1998, Henry and two other 80-something-year-old
former Nuremberg prosecutors, Whitney Harris and Ben Ferencz, participated in
the Rome diplomatic conference to create a permanent international criminal
court and used their unique moral authority, dogged persistence, and skills of
persuasion to convince the delegates to include the crime of aggression in the
Court’s statute (pending agreement on a definition and trigger mechanism). Last
fall, in cooperation with the President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties,
Henry co-chaired a conference and experts meeting on “The ICC and the Crime of
Aggression” at Case Western Reserve, which developed proposals that
significantly advanced the effort to define the crime and the conditions under
which the Court could exercise its jurisdiction over it.

Henry was an influential leader of the American Bar Association, serving in the 1950s as Chair of the International Law Section, and later as a member of the ABA’s
special task force on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. In addition he was
the U.S. chairman of a joint working group, organized by the American, Canadian,
and Mexican bar associations, on the settlement of international disputes. Henry
also founded the 200-member Greater Cleveland International Lawyers Group.

In 2004, Henry was appointed Canada’s Honorary Consul General for
Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The Canadian Government, U.S. Department of
Justice Office of Special Investigations, Robert H. Jackson Center, and Case
Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder, among others, paid tribute
to Henry at a recent event honoring his 65 years of accomplishments and public

At a luncheon session that I attended a few months ago in which
Henry reflected on insights gained over the years, he told the standing-room
crowd of students that “the most important thing is to find some way to leave
your mark for the betterment of society and the world.” Henry left his mark in a
big way. His life’s work and dedication to international justice is an
inspiration. He will be missed terribly.

1 comment:

Jfen said...

We were fortunate to have Dr. King speak at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage not once but twice in the last few years. His life was fascinating, he was generous with his time, and I'm glad his final appearance here was captured on film.