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Devin Pendas

associate professor

Devin Pendas

Telephone: 617-552-6881

Office: Stokes Hall S341


Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2000

Fields of Interest

German history; modern Europe; legal history; history of mass violence and war

Academic Profile

Professor Pendas' teaching interests include courses on German history, European legal history, the history of war and genocide, the history of war crimes trials, and the history of human rights. His research focuses on war crimes trials after World War II, particularly on West German Holocaust trials. He is currently working on two projects: a history of Nazi trials in German courts in all occupation zones from 1945 to 1950, to be published by Cambridge University Press; and a synthetic history of law and mass violence in the modern period.

Professor Pendas is a faculty affiliate and co-chair of the Contemporary Europe Study Group at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. He has received research fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service, the MacArthur Foundation, the Center for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, Germany, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and the American Council of Learned Societies (Burkhardt Fellowship). He has been a guest professor at Meiji University in Tokyo and the J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt.

Representative Publications

  • Political Trials in Theory and History, co-edited (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • "Against War: Pacifism as Collaboration and as Resistance" in The Cambridge History of the Second World War (2015)
  • "Anatomie eines Skandals. Die Ermittlungen im Mordfall Dr. Hans Hannemann im Kontext der deutschen Nachkriegsjustiz," in Kritische Justiz (2013)
  • “Toward a New Politics? On the Recent Historiography of Human Rights” Contemporary European History 21/1 (2012)
  • “Retroactive Law and Proactive Justice: Debating Crimes against Humanity in Germany, 1945-1950,” in Central European History (2010)
  • "Auf dem Weg zu einem globalen Rechtssystem? Die Menschenrechte und das Scheitern des legalistischen Paradigmas des Krieges," in Moralpolitik: Geschichte der Menschenrechte im 20. Jahrhundert (2010) 
  • “Interrogating Torture: Human Rights, the War on Terror, and the Fate of America,” in The Journal of American Studies (2010)  
  • “Punishment as Prevention? The Politics of Punishing Génocidaires,” co-authored with Donald Bloxham, in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (2010)
  • "Seeking Justice, Finding Law: Nazi Trials in Postwar Europe," in The Journal of Modern History (2009)
  • “Explaining Nazism: Ethics, Beliefs and Interests,” in Modern Intellectual History (2008)
  • "Transitional Justice and Just Transitions: The German Case, 1945-1950,” in European Studies Forum (2008)
  • “Testimony,” in Reading Primary Sources (2008)
  • "'The Magical Scent of the Savage': Colonial Violence, the Crisis of Civilization, and the Origins of the Legalist Paradigm of War," in Boston College International and Comparative Law Review (2007)
  • "Eichmann in Jerusalem, Arendt in Frankfurt: The Eichmann Trial, the Auschwitz Trial, and the Banality of Justice," in New German Critique (2007)
  • "The Historiography of Horror: The Auschwitz Trial and the German Historical Imagination," in Lessons and Legacies VI: New Currents in Holocaust Research (2004)
  • "Truth and its Consequences: Reflections on Political, Historical and Legal Truth in West German Holocaust Trials," in Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte/Revue d'Histoire (2004)
  • "'Law, not Vengeance': Human Rights, the Rule of Law and the Claims of Memory in German Holocaust Trials," in Truth Claims: Representation and Human Rights (2002)
  • "'I didn't know what Auschwitz was': The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial and the German Press," in Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities (June 2000)



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