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Mallory Benton Blair - Nuremberg Justice

Mallory Benton Blair has a non-descript headstone on the front row of Section C, what is commonly known as Republic Hill here at the State Cemetery. Blair’s headstone is gray granite and looks like it could have been made yesterday. Of course it wasn’t made yesterday, Judge Blair died in 1962 after a full life of public service and dedication to the law. He was 74 when he died. He was qualified for burial at the State Cemetery for many different reasons, but the main reason is that he was a Justice on the Third Court of Civil Appeals for more than 40 years. Though his headstone looks like many others, if you read a little closer you will see Blair had a unique career. Blair lost his last election to the court in 1947 and retired, but not for long.

The judge came out of retirement after World War II when President Harry S. Truman tapped him to sit at the American Military Tribunal III in Nuremberg, the so-called “Judges Trial.” Blair’s service came during the third of twelve tribunals to prosecute Nazi war criminals. The first and best known trial was for the major war criminals, monsters like Herman Goering, Wilhelm Frick and Alfred Rosenberg. They were the key figures in the public tribunals, but the machinery of the Nazi Party had to be dismantled and their members prosecuted. The Nazi Party ran virtually every aspect of German society and every level of government. In addition to the “Judges Trial,” there was a “Hostages Trial,” and a “Doctors Trial” and others.

Sixteen men went before the judge’s tribunal, ten were found guilty. The trial lasted almost a year and at the end, prison sentences were handed out to all those found guilty. A 1961 movie called “Judgment at Nuremberg” starring Spencer Tracy and Burt Lancaster was based loosely on the “Judges Trial.” The movie was one of the first to deal directly with the Holocaust. The Nuremberg trials and tribunals lasted for a number of years after World War II and led to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which demands the protection of civilians during a time of war. Almost every country in the world subscribes to the Geneva Conventions.

Blair returned to Texas after his time in Europe and practiced law in Austin. He continued state service under the State Board of Law Examiners from 1953 until his death. He is buried next to his wife, Margaret.

- WE