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    The Tokyo Trials

    [World War II]. An Archive of Photographs Taken During the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, Including Twenty-Seven Signed Photographs of the Defendants. The archive was compiled by PFC Leonard Sonenthal, a twenty year-old assigned to the International Prosecutors Section. The twenty-seven signed photographs are all 7.75" x 9.5", black and white images; they are individually signed. Each defendant signs in English and Japanese. Also, a scrapbook containing 191 pictures of the individual defendants, the trial, and various scenes throughout Ichigaya Court House (where the trial was held). 190 of these photographs measure 3.75" x 4.75", the last is a composite photograph of all of the defendants measuring 4.2" x 9.2" and titled at top: International Military Tribunal, Far East / Defendants.

    Like the Nuremberg Trials being held in Germany, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East, (or Tokyo Trials) was convened on April 29, 1946. Its purpose was to prosecute high ranking Japanese for three types of war crimes: conspiracy to start and wage war; crimes against humanity; and planning, ordering, authorizing, or failing to prevent such crimes in the higher levels of command. In all, twenty-eight government officials and military commanders (and one political philosopher) were tried. Seven of the accused were sentenced to death and the remaining defendants were given life sentences with the exception of Mamoru Shigemitsu and Shigenori Togo (Togo was sentenced to twenty years, but died in prison in 1949).

    The group includes signed photographs of all seven men sentenced to death: Kenji Dohihara, Koki Hirota, Seishiro Itagaki, Heitaro Kimura, Akira Muto, Hideki Tojo (2 signed photographs, including one posed alongside Sonenthal), and Iwane Matsui; Nagano Osami (died of natural causes during the trial); and all defendants sentenced to prison: Shunroku Hata, Hiroshi Oshima, Kingoro Hashimoto, Toshio Shiratori, Naoki Hoshino, Kenryo Sato, Sadao Araki, Takazumi Oka, Jiro Minami, Teiichi Suzuki, Okinori Kaya, Shigetaro Shimada, Yoshijiro Umezu, Koichi Kido, Kiichiro Hiranuma, Kuniaki Koiso, Mamoru Shigemitsu, and Shigenori Togo. All photos measure 7.75" x 9.5", and are in near fine condition. They are housed in archival sleeves, in the original blue three-ring binder.

    The 191 photos are placed in the scrap book using mounting corners, so that they are easy to remove. Many have notes on the verso, likely written by Sonenthal. Also present are 18 negatives measuring 2.5" x 3.5" (individual pictures of the signed photographs), and 109 large format negatives each measuring 4" x 5.25".

    A newspaper clipping from the June 21, 1946, Newark Star Ledger featuring a photo of Tojo posing with Sonenthal states that he arrived in Tokyo in January 1945. His training as a photographer landed him on the staff of the International Prosecution Section. While in Japan, he studied languages. Also present in the archive is Sonenthal's building pass allowing him access to the "I.P.S. Photo Section", 5 business cards, his mess card for meals at Mitsubishi Main, his mess card for meals aboard the Frederick Funston United States army transport (Sonenthal notes on this card that he departed Japan on November 23, 1946), his library card for the Ernie Pyle Library in Tokyo, a court room seating chart (with rules of conduct on the verso), and a sheet listing the names of the defendants with the literal translations of their names.

    Although it is not possible to know which of the photographs were taken by Sonenthal, his assignment on the staff presented him a unique opportunity to compile what is certainly one of the most complete collection of images documenting the trial. The archive comes directly from the family and is being offered here for the first time.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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