By Sarah Benczik
Impunity Watch Editor-in-Chief
New York, USA – Friends and colleagues today mourn the death of Dr. Henry T. King, Jr., who passed away on Saturday at the age of 89.
Dr. King perhaps is most famous for prosecuting Nazis alongside John H. Jackson during the Nuremberg Trials. He was a recent graduate of Yale Law and only 25 years old when he was hired as the youngest Nuremberg Prosecutor. He led the prosecution of Luftwaffe Field Marshall Erhard Milch, deputy head of the Luftwaffe under Hermann Goering, and interrogated many other significant Nuremberg defendants, including Albert Speer.
Dr. Henry King’s legal career reached far beyond his time spent prosecuting Nazis. He went on to
work as corporate counsel for TRW Inc., eventually becoming chief corporate international counsel, and later served as counsel to the law firm Squire, Sanders and Dempsey. He served as director of the Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Eisenhower Administration and as General Counsel of the U.S. Foreign Economic Aid Program. During the 1980s, as Chairman of the Canada-United States Law Institute, Dr. King played an integral role in facilitating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He was also actively engaged in the American Bar Association (ABA): he was chairman of the ABA Section on International Law and Practice, U.S. chairman of a joint working group, organized by the American, Canadian, and Mexican bar associations, on the settlement of international disputes, and joined the ABA’s special task force on war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
Dr. King became a professor at Case Western Reserve University, where he taught International Business and International Arbitration. As a scholar, he published more than 70 articles on international business transactions, international arbitration, and Nuremberg related topics. He also authored a book – The Two Worlds of Albert Speer – based on his Nuremberg experiences.
In 1998, Dr. King, along with Whitney Harris and Ben Ferencz (also former Nuremberg Prosecutors), participated in the Rome diplomatic conference to create a permanent international criminal court (now known as the ICC). The three prosecutors are credited with convincing fellow delegates to include the crime of aggression – along with crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes – within the jurisdiction of the ICC under the Rome Statute. He was honored by the government of The Netherlands as an official guest of the government for the inauguration of the ICC in March 2003 at The Hague.
Dr. King’s work was fueled by a passion for international cooperation and law, and a vision of a better future. In his own words through his Case Western University faculty web page, Professor King shared this vision:
“I’m involved in “action” programs in international law and in the teaching of international law because I believe that we live in an increasingly connected international world, which we can make much better and more secure.”
A colleague of Dr. King’s shared a similar anecdote: “At a luncheon session that I attended a few months ago in which Henry reflected on insights gained over the years, he told the standing-room crowd of students that ‘the most important thing is to find some way to leave your mark for the betterment of society and the world.’ Henry left his mark in a big way.”
Dr. King was named a Fellow honoris causa of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Center for International Legal Education in 2002. The University of Western Ontario awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws. In 2004, he was appointed Canada’s Honorary Consul General for Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. He was also a Senior Advisor to the Robert Jackson Center at Jamestown, New York.
Dr. King’s legacy will no doubt continue on through future generations of international legal scholarship. Impunity Watch shares Professor King’s vision of an interconnected world without legal impunity from the greatest crimes committed in history. Dr. King served as the master of ceremonies for Impunity Watch’s official web-launch ceremony in October 2007, and we are grateful for and honored by his support for our organization over the years. The Impunity Watch Executive Board and Staff offer our condolences to his family, and we will continue to honor his legacy by daily working to keep his vision for a better world alive.