The Life, Times and Work of Jokubas Robinzonas – Jacob Robinson

The Life, Times and Work of Jokubas Robinzonas – Jacob Robinson

Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas Institute for East-European Studies at the Free University of Berlin Lithuanian Emigration Insitute in Kaunas with the the support of the Federal Fund “Remembrance and Future” in Berlin and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Vilnius
Vom - Bis
22.10.2007 -
Bendikaite, Egle

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the decease, on October 24, 1977, of the well-renowned international lawyer, historian and politician Dr. Jacob Robinson, Vytautas Magnus University of Kaunas and the Free University of Berlin, with the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to Vilnius and the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future” in Berlin, organize the international symposium on “The life, Times, and Work of Jokūbas Robinzonas – Jacob Robinson.”

Jokubas Robinzonas, later better known as Jacob Robinson, was born in 1889 in the small town of Seirijai (then Russian Empire, now Lithuania). He died in New York City on October 24, 1977. The aim of the Symposium is to portray the life and work of this remarkable personality and to bring back to public awareness the significance and achievements of Jacob Robinson. The Symposium is held in Kaunas, the provisional capital of the Republic of Lithuania in the interwar period, where Robinzonas started both his legal career and his political engagement. After a successful and committed career as pedagogue and principal in the educational system of the Jewish minority, he was admitted to the Kaunas bar and established his law firm in this city. In due time upon his election to the Seimas, the Lithuanian parliament, he assumed the duties of the chairman of the Jewish faction and the Minorities Bloc. In the logotype of the Symposium, the first photography in the second line displays him as young member of the parliament. In the 1930s, Robinzonas officiated as legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, pleading Lithuania’s cases in the Permanent Court of International Justice as well as in international arbitration.

Jokubas Robinzonas is, in a unique manner, also linked to the United States, Israel, and Germany. In December 1940, Robinzonas immigrated to the United States; the logotype photography in the first line was taken immediately before his emigration. In 1946, he became a United States citizen. At this time, he had already played an important role as special adviser on Jewish affairs to Justice Robert M. Jackson, the United States Chief Counsel at the International Military Court in Nuremberg (1945), and to the latter’s successor Telford Taylor (1946). In the subsequent years, he would reach notable achievements being involved in the establishment of the United Nations Human Rights Commission (1946–1947) and the United Nations delegation of the Jewish Agency for Palestine as well as serving at the Permanent Mission of the State of Israel to the United Nations in New York (1947–1957). Upon his retirement from diplomatic service and until his death, Robinson worked the Research Institute of Yad Vashem.

Under the leadership of Israel’s Attorney General Gideon Hausner and along with Deputy Attorney General Gabriel Bach and District Attorney for Tel Aviv Yaakov Bar-Or, Jacob Robinson, in 1960 and 1961, served as Assistant Attorney in the Eichmann Trial Prosecution Team. Shortly before this trial, he had given a widely noticed course at the famous Hague Academy of International Law on the metamorphosis of the United Nations, which he assessed not only critically, but also with a remarkable farsightedness, not least with respect to the future role of Germany in international politics. In the logotype of the Symposium, the second photography in the second line was taken on this occasion. Most certainly, the contribution he made to the reconciliation between Germany and Israel is of pivotal importance in the long row of outstanding achievements in the work of Jacob Robinson and bears witness to the fact that this issue was of utmost concern to him. He was instrumental in the development of the solution settling Jewish claims against Germany, which became seminal for all subsequent compensation schemes.

The Symposium focusses, in the broadest sense, on the significance of Jacob Robinson as international lawyer, as politician and diplomat, and as public man, and brings together speakers from Israel, the United States, Canada, Lithuania, and Germany. Amongst them are Gabriel Bach, who – along with Jacob Robinson – represented the Office of the General Attorney in the Eichmann Trial, Dr. Daniel A. Greenberg (U.S.A.), first-cousin-once-removed to Jacob Robinson, and Professor Michael R. Marrus of the University of Toronto.



09.00 Registration of participants

Opening of the International Symposium

09.30 Welcome greeting by the Rector of Vytautas Magnus University, Professor Dr. Habil. Zigmas Lydeka

09.35 Address by H.E. Mr. Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania (to be confirmed)

09.55 Welcome note by Professor Dr. Gertrud Pickhan, Institute for East-European Studies, Free University of Berlin

10.00 Welcome greeting by the Lord Mayor of the City of Kaunas, Mr. Andrius Kupcinskas

10.10 Coffee break

Morning Session I
Moderator: Professor Dr. Habil. Egidijus Aleksandravicius

10.30 Omry Kaplan-Feuereisen, M.A., Ph.D. Student, Institute for East-European Studies, Free University of Berlin:
Biographical Introduction to Jokubas Robinzonas – Jacob Robinson

10.40 Associate Professor Dr. Pranas Janauskas, Head of the History Department, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas:
Jacob Robinson’s Actvities in Lithuanian Parliaments

11.00 Dr. Egle Bendikaite, Research Fellow, Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilnius:
Politician Without Political Party. A Zionist Appraisal of Jacob Robinson’s Activities in the Public Life of Lithuania

11.20 Coffee break

Morning Session II
Moderator: Professor. Dr. Gertrud Pickhan

11.40 Professor Dr. Michael R. Marrus, University of Toronto:
Jacob Robinson and the Holocaust at the Nuremberg Trials

12.10 Gabriel Bach, Judge (ret’d) at the Supreme Court of the State of Israel, Jerusalem:
The Eichmann Trial and the Role of Jacob Robinson as Member of the Prosecution Team

12.40 Jur. lic. Dirk Roland Haupt, Permanent Deputy of the Ambassador, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Vilnius:
Jacob Robinson as Writer and Practitioner in International Law

13.00 Lunch break

15.00 Birute Garbarviciene, Director of the Historical Presidential Palais of the Republic of Lithuania, Kaunas:
Guided tour around the Historical Presidential Palais of the Republic of Lithuania

Afternoon Session I
Moderator: Jur. lic. Dirk Roland Haupt

15.20 Philipp Graf, M.A., Ph.D. Student, Simon Dubnow Institute, Leipzig:
The Bernheim Petition 1933. Jacob Robinson’s Contribution to Jewish Minority Diplomacy in the Interwar Years

15.40 Asta Petraityte, M.A., Ph.D. Student, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas:
Jacob Robinson and the Lithuanian Emigrants Organizations

16.00 Omry Kaplan-Feuereisen, M.A., Ph.D. Student, Institute for East-European Studies, Free University of Berlin:
Jacob Robinson and Germany

16.20 Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Session II
Moderator: Professor Dr. Habil. Egidijus Aleksandravicius

16.40 Professor Dr. Daniel A. Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School, Sudbury MA, U.S.A. (first-cousin-once-removed to Jacob Robinson):
An Appreciation of Jacob Robinson as a Person: The Human Side of One of the Great Figures of the 20th Century

17.10 Professor Dr. Habil. Egidijus Aleksandravicius, Director of the Lithuanian Emigration Institute, Kaunas:
Conclusions and Closing of the International Symposium

18.30 Reception in Hotel Kaunas, Laisves aleja 79, 44297 Kaunas, hosted by the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Vilnius


Dr. Egle Bendikaite
Lithuanian Institute of History, Kraziu g. 5, 01108 Vilnius
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