University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The Berke Family Collection of Nuremberg Deposition Papers

This collection contains nearly 600 pages of depositions, photos, and German war records gathered by American soldiers and prosecutors as the Allies pushed through Germany in 1945. They include dozens of first-person eye-witness accounts by German soldiers and their commanders of Nazi war-crimes against Jews and other victims of the Third Reich.

These papers were bequeathed to David M. Berke, of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1990 by his friend Edward Franz, an attorney and prosecutor present at the Nuremberg trials. According to David Berke’s daughter, Cathy Berke Abrams, her father told his children that Edward Franz handed the briefcase, apparently untouched since the late 1940's, to him personally and said, “I'd like you to have this. You’ll know what to do with it.” Originally donated to Kent State University in 2002, the original copies are now archived at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

In honor of 100th Birthday Anniversary of her father, David M. Berke, Cathy Berke Abrams is donating a copy of these deposition papers to the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with the intention of making this material as widely available to scholars and researchers as possible. Toward this end, the gift of these papers by the Berke Family is accompanied by a fund to digitize the entire collection, which will then be posted for all researchers on the Institute’s web-site.

The Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is eternally grateful to Cathy Berke Abrams and the Berke Family for this extraordinary gift of these papers.

In the fall of 2012, Professor Lawrence Douglas of Amherst College, author of The Memory of Judgment (Yale University Press), will give a lecture on the value of these deposition papers for historical understanding of the Holocaust, followed by a reception honoring Cathy Berke Abrams and the Berke Family for the gift of these papers.