Philippe Sands is Professor of Law at University College London and a practising barrister at Matrix Chambers. He frequently appears before international courts, including the International Criminal Court and the World Court in The Hague, and has been involved in many of the most important cases f recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq and Guantanamo. His previous books include Lawless World (on the Iraq war), and Torture Team (on the embrace of torture by the Bush Administration). He is a frequent contributor to the Financial Times, Guardian, New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair; makes regular appearances on radio and television; and serves on the boards of English PEN and the Hay Festival.
East West Street
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
When international lawyer Philippe Sands received an invitation to deliver a lecture in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, he began to uncover a series of extraordinary historical coincidences. It set him on a quest that would take him halfway around the world in an exploration of the origins of international law and the pursuit of his own secret family history, beginning and ending with the last day of the Nuremberg trial.
Part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller, Philippe Sands guides us between past and present as several interconnected stories unfold in parallel. The first is the hidden story of two Nuremberg prosecutors who discover, only at the end of the trial, that the man they are prosecuting may be responsible for the murder of their entire families in Nazi-occupied Poland, in and around Lviv. The two prosecutors, Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin, were remarkable men, whose efforts led to the inclusion of the terms ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ in the judgement at Nuremberg. The defendant, Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal lawyer and Governor-General of Nazi-occupied Poland, turns out to be an equally compelling character.
The lives of these three men lead Sands to a more personal story, as he traces the events that overwhelmed his mother’s family in Lviv and Vienna during the Second World War. At the heart of this book is an equally personal quest to understand the roots of international law and the concepts that have dominated Sands’ work as a lawyer. Eventually, he finds unexpected answers to his questions about his family, in this meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations, and the haunting gaps left by the secrets of others.