Henry T. King, Jr. - Lawyer - Nuremberg Prosecutor



Henry T. King, Jr.
- Professor; U.S. Director, Canada/U.S. Law Institute / B.A. 1941, LL.B. 1943 (Yale)

(born May 27, 1919, Meriden, Connecticut, died - May 9, 2009 - Cleveland)


Mr. King practiced law in New York with Milbank, Tweed & Hope, served as a Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, and then had a long and distinguished career as a corporate counsel, which included more than twenty years with TRW Inc. (he was chief corporate international counsel).

He teaches International Arbitration and is U.S. director of the Canada-U.S. Law Institute. A former chairman of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law and Practice, he now serves on the ABA's special task force on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and is the U.S. chairman of a joint working group, organized by the American, Canadian, and Mexican bar associations, on the settlement of international disputes.




 
Albert Speer and Henry King at Heidelberg in July 1981

Preface to The Two Worlds of Albert Speer

I first met Albert Speer, one of the major defendants of the Nuremberg trials, at the Nuremberg prison in the late summer of 1946. I was interrogating him in connection with his role as chairman of the Central Planning Board, the body that had supreme authority for the scheduling of German production and the allocation and development of raw materials during World War II. These interrogations were conducted in the preparation of a case against former Luftwaffe Field Marshall Erhard Milch, deputy head of the Luftwaffe under Hermann Goering and the other important member of the Board. At that time Speer was awaiting his sentence for his role in the crimes of the Third Reich--a sentence that could well have been death by hanging.

Although during the trial I had the chance to talk to many of the other defendants, including Reichsmarshall G6ering and Wilhelm Keitel, former chief of staff of the high command of the German armed forces, I found Speer to be unique. Speer was remarkably composed and unshaken; he seemed to possess an inner security and objectivity that many of the others lacked. In tact, he was so detached that he made various kinds of architectural sketches during the proceedings. His composure was all the more remarkable because of the unique and key role he had played in the Third Reich. From 1942 to 1945 not only was he one of the men closest to Hitler, but he was also one who influenced Hitler's decisions. At one time in late 1943, Speer was reputed to be Hitler's heir apparent.

The time I spent with Speer provided me with a very significant experience. In fact, ever since my encounters with Speer at Nuremberg I have planned to write a book about him. I wanted to find the answers to the many questions I had concerning his role as a Nazi. But I would have to find a lot of pieces to this puzzle before my picture would be complete.

I did not pursue this project when I returned home, however, for many reasons. First of all, I was consumed with family matters. My daughter Suzanne was born in November 1947, shortly after we got back to the U.S. While Suzanne was very a bright and attractive child, our first son, Henry T. King III (Hank), born in May 1950, was found to be autistic. We spent years trying to find suitable treatment for him and locating the residential facility where he was able to live comfortably for twenty years.

Doing our best for Hank was very expensive; in tact, at one time 1 held three jobs to pay the bills. My most important position was as general counsel of the Naugatuck Valley Industrial Council, an association of 177 manufacturers in western Connecticut. My duties there included representing them as a group in lobbying for them at the Connecticut General Assembly at the state capital in Hartford and representing their interests with regard to regulatory matters before administrative agencies in Washington, D.C. I also gave lectures at night on the Taft-Hartley Act and on other labor legislation before supervisory groups at individual companies who were members of the Council. On weekends I ran a law practice in which I counseled officials of member companies on tax and estate matters.

I was not able to focus my attention on Speer again until the early 1960s, when he was about to be released from Spandau. At that time I wrote an article entitled "The Two Worlds of Albert Speer." When he was freed on October 1, 1966, the German magazine Der Spiegel quoted from my article in reporting on this occasion.

After his release Speer himself offered to help me carry out my book project. But to my great regret, I had to put the project aside to deal with enormous job pressures. At the time I was general counsel of the Automotive Group of TRW Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of auto parts in the world. When Speer made his offer, and for several years thereafter, I was engaged in a massive process of acquiring and integrating European parts manufacturers into TRW's world-wide operations. Because I played a key role in these acquisitions, I had no time left to undertake any serious writing.

In June 1993 my wife Betty and my son Hank both died. Now in the throes of my grief and the vacuum in my life I had the time to carry out my book project on Speer.

At the same time I was pleased to learn of the availability of Bertina Elles, a German national, to work with me. When working on the book earlier, I had always been handicapped by my lack of fluency in German. In addition, I thought Bertina could add a German perspective to my picture of Speer. In 1994 1 started in earnest on this study. And although I sometimes wish I could have started earlier, I feel that perhaps the passage of time has given me an opportunity to gain a better perspective on Speer and his career and I strongly believe it is worthwhile to share it because of its relevance to modern corporate society.

I have now spent nearly half a century collecting facts regarding the trial and then weighing and counterweighing them again and again, I believe the time has come to report my conclusions so that the example of Speer may serve as a warning to those who are tempted by power. Therefore, I present my observations from the point of view of an American attorney who was a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who observed him at close range during a critical time of his life, and who in the course of time came to know him extremely well.

Henry T. King, Jr.

1997

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