Jewish honour courts were post-war Jewish tribunals in which Jews suspected of co-operation with the Nazis were tried in quasi-legal proceedings before a panel of their judicial peers. Jewish honour court systems were established in several European countries in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, including Poland and the Netherlands. Displaced Persons camps in the American zone of occupied Germany also saw the creation of an elaborate honour court system. In addition, individual Jewish communal trials of putative Jewish collaborators were held both in and outside Europe, including the US. By 1950, honour courts were dismantled. Although the existence of Jewish honour courts after the Holocaust had been relegated to historical obscurity until recently, they played an important role in the reconstruction of Jewish life in Europe in the immediate post-war years. In this talk, Gabriel Finder examined the reasons for the establishment of post-war Jewish honour courts, discuss exemplary trials, and draw conclusions from their short-lived existence and eventual demise.
Gabriel Finder (PhD, JD) taught in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia (USA) and was an affiliate faculty member in the university’s Jewish Studies Programme. His research addresses the Holocaust, Jewish rebuilding in its aftermath, Jewish cultural production after the Holocaust, and post-war justice. His most recent publications include Justice Behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland, which he co-authored with the late Alexander V. Prusin (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018); and Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust, which he co-edited with David Slucki and Avinoam Patt (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2020). He co-edited Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, published in association with the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2015) with Laura Jockusch; Jewish Honor Courts was a National Jewish book award finalist in the Holocaust category. He is in the process of writing Honor Court: Jews in Poland Turn Inward after the Holocaust.