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    The legal significance of Potsdam: Quincy Wright versus Wilhelm Grewe in the pages of the American Journal of International Law

    Bowring, Bill (2017) The legal significance of Potsdam: Quincy Wright versus Wilhelm Grewe in the pages of the American Journal of International Law. In: Koch, C. (ed.) Das Potsdamer Abkommen 1945-2015. Rechtliche Bedeutung und historische Auswirkungen. Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Peter Lang, pp. 115-132. ISBN 9783631670910.

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    The Potsdam Agreement was published as a Communiqué on 1 August 1945, following the conference which took place from 17 July 1945 . I have chosen, as my contribution to this collection, to focus on a scholarly exchange which took place in 1961–1962, that is, more than 15 years after the Agreement, in the context of one of the most dangerous crises of the Cold War, one of the precise moments at which nuclear Armageddon could have been unleashed. The prota-gonists, in the pages of the American Journal of International Law were, at first sight, two distinguished jurists, both of whom had risen high in their country’s service: the international relations scholar Quincy Wright, who lived from 1890 to 1970, and was 70 years old at the time, and the lawyer and diplomat Wilhelm Grewe, who lived from 1911 to 2000, 20 years Wright’s junior, and 51 years old at the time of his reply to Wright. It is immediately apparent that the Pots-dam Agreement was very much the central matter of contention between them, Wright inclined to accept political realities but prepared to argue, against him-self, for a “return to Potsdam”, and for that reason denounced by Grewe. I start with some brief remarks on the Cold War and the events of 1961–62, before setting out the elements of Wright’s comments and Grewe’s heated response. Next, I explore the background of Wright, whose many writings on war in international law show him to be an irrepressible advocate of peace. Thirdly, I show in detail, referring to two scholars in particular, Bardo Fass-bender and Martti Koskenniemi, Grewe’s remarkably successful careers in the Third Reich and, after an effortless transition, in the state service of the Federal Republic of Germany. Was he nothing more than a highly regarded scholar and distinguished public servant? Fourth, therefore, I turn to Grewe’s intellectual position, which turns out to be a faithful reproduction of and commentary on the ideas of his mentor, Carl Schmitt. In his highly praised monograph, nearly 40 years in the writing and publishing, The Epochs of International Law , Grewe showed himself to be a thinker for whom the Third Reich was simply one contesting party in a normal inter-state conflict, and for whom the Holo-caust and Hitler’s other crimes did not merit comment much less explanation.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: School of Law > Law
    Depositing User: Bill Bowring
    Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2017 09:34
    Last Modified: 10 Feb 2022 15:28


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