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Robert Max Wasilii Kempner

(1899 – 1993)

Robert Max Wasilii Kempner was a lawyer and historian. Born in Freiburg, Germany, Kempner became an assistant to the state attorney in Berlin (1926) and later a judge. From 1926 to 1933 he was a senior government adviser in the Prussian Ministry of Interior in Berlin. In this period he demanded that Hitler be tried for perjury and treason. He also officially called for disbanding the Nazi Party and Hitler's deportation as an undesirable alien. Removed from office on Hitler's rise to power, he was arrested by the Gestapo, and after his release went to Italy, where he taught until 1939. From there he immigrated to the U.S., where he became a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania and, among other government appointments, worked on President Roosevelt's Manhattan Project. From 1945 to 1946 he was a U.S. prosecutor and from 1946 until 1949 chief prosecutor of Nazi political leaders at the Nuremberg Trials. From 1949 he engaged in special research on the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry. As a consultant to the Israel government, he helped assemble evidence for the *Eichmann trial (1960–61). Subsequently he fought against the Statute of Limitations in West Germany. Kempner practiced law in Frankfurt on the Main in the 1960s. He then moved back to Philadelphia.

He wrote numerous books and articles on the Nazi era and related post-war topics, notably Eichmann und Komplizen (1961), containing a description of Eichmann's activities based on original documents; SS im Kreuzverhoer (1964), based on protocols of war-crime trials; and Edith Stein und Anne Frank, Zwei von Hunderttausend (1968). Kempner's wife, Ruth Lydia, assembled archives of documents and other materials on Nazi crimes against the churches throughout Europe.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.