Adjunct Professor of Law
Harry Reicher passed away in October 2014. Professor Reicher, who was born in Prague, in what was then Czechoslovakia, was one of Australia’s leading international law and taxation experts. As a Barrister, he appeared on numerous occasions in the High Court of Australia, and also the courts of England (up to the House of Lords) and the United States, and was also involved in landmark cases in the areas of international human rights, international environmental law and Australian tax and corporate law.
As an academic, Professor Reicher taught for many years at Monash University in Melbourne (and also the University of Melbourne Law School), and was a professor at a number of law schools in the United States. His original legal training was undertaken at Monash University, with postgraduate studies at the University of Melbourne and Harvard Law School. For the last 19 years, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where in 2003, he was the recipient of the Law School’s inaugural adjunct teaching award.
Among the notable courses he taught included:
Law and the Holocaust, a novel course which examined the Nazi philosophy of law, emanating from the racial ideology, and how it was used to pervert Germany’s legal system, to discriminate against, ostracize, dehumanize, and eventually eliminate, certain classes of people; and then, to consider the role of international law in rectifying the damage by bringing perpetrators to justice and constructing a system of international human rights aimed at preventing a repetition.
International Human Rights, which explored the evolution of the status of the individual in international law from a mere appendage of his/her state, to a fully-fledged legal person, with enforceable rights and obligations. It related the subject-matter of the course to the Holocaust, which was the catalyst for the whole human rights movement of the post-World War II era. A special section dealt with religious freedom in international law, and among other things, examined case studies from Professor Reicher’s practice in the area.
Harry Reicher published in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and he edited the first indigenous Australian casebook on international law. His most recent publications included: "Medicine in the Third Reich: The 65th Anniversary of the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg,” in Penn Medicine, and "Evading Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity: Murderous Lawyers at Nuremberg,” as Chapter 6 in Steinweis and Rachlin (eds), The Law in Nazi Germany: Ideology, Opportunism, and the Perversion of Justice (Berghahn, 2013). His last book, provisionally entitled Holocaust: The Legal Dimension, will be published by Oxford University Press.
From 1995 to 2004, he was Representative to the United Nations of Agudath Israel World Organization, a 101-year-old international NGO, which has consultative status with the world body. In this capacity, he worked, at the legal and diplomatic levels, on promotion of international human rights, with special emphasis on freedom of religion. In particular, he worked for the protection and preservation of Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe; to protect Jewish schools there threatened with closure; and in a range of other areas.
He was also Director of International Affairs of Agudath Israel World Organization, which is a constituent of the Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization. In this capacity, he was heavily involved in Holocaust-era restitution, reparations and compensation, and the plethora of litigation arising therefrom, and was one of two principal co-authors of a major brief in the Swiss banks litigation.
In recognition of his pioneering work on the legal dimension to the Holocaust, in January, 2004, President Bush appointed Professor Reicher to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which conducts the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, in Washington, DC, on which he served until April, 2008, and he also served on the Museum’s Academic Committee and Committee on Conscience. Also in January 2004, the Mayor of Saratoga, Florida, presented him with the Key to the City. In April, 2004, the City of Bayonne, New Jersey, proclaimed April 18 to be “Professor Harry Reicher Day”, and the two Houses of the New Jersey State Legislature passed a Joint Resolution applauding his work.
- Legal dimension to the Holocaust
- international human rights
- International Human Rights
- Law and the Holocaust