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The Papers of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht

Reference Code: GBR/0014/LAUT

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence, legal papers, lectures, literary papers and later biographical material relating to Lauterpacht's collected papers and his biography, written by his son, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht.


  • Creation: 1920 - 2015


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Hersch Lauterpacht was born in the small town of Zolkiew [Austria-Hungary, later Ukraine] on 16 August 1897, the second son of Aaron Lauterpacht. He was educated at the Jan Kazimierz University, Lwów [also L'viv, Lvov and Lemberg], then in Vienna, and also at the London School of Economics with Dr Arnold McNair, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. In 1923 Lauterpacht married Rachel, 3rd daughter of Michael Steinberg, having one son, Elihu. Sir Hersch died on 8 May 1960.

Having emigrated to Britain in 1923, to continue his studies at the London School of Economics, Lauterpacht became an Assistant Lecturer at the LSE in 1927, and later Reader in Public International Law in 1932, before moving to Cambridge as Whewell Professor of International Law, 1938–55. He also had a place at Gray’s Inn, first as a Barrister-at-Law, then as Master of the Bench, 1955, and was a Professor at The Hague Academy of International Law, 1930, 1934, 1937 and 1947. In the United States, he also held positions as Carnegie Endowment Visiting Professor, Oct-Dec 1940, Mary Whiton Calkins Visiting Professor, Wellesley College, Oct-Dec 1941, and Charles Inglis Thompson Visiting Professor, University of Colorado, June-July 1948.

After the war, Lauterpacht served as a member of various key bodies involved with the development of international law, and in the drafting of Article 6 of the Nuremburg charter, he succeeded in bringing crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression into modern international law. He served on the British War Crimes Executive at Nuremberg, 1945-46, preparing first drafts of the opening and closing speeches of the chief prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross. He was also a member of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Immunities of Foreign Governments, 1950, the United Nations International Law Commission, 1951-55, and served as a Judge of the International Court of Justice, The Hague, from 1955 until his death in 1960. He was also President of the Permanent French-Swedish Conciliation Commission, 1951, and of the Permanent Norwegian-Portuguese Conciliation Commission, a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and a Member of the Institute of International Law.

Lauterpacht's publications include: his doctoral thesis, Private Law Sources and Analogies of International Law, 1927; The Function of Law in the International Community, 1933; The Development of International Law by the Permanent Court of International Justice, 1934; Règles générales du droit de la paix (Lectures delivered at the Hague Academy of International Law, 1938); An International Bill of the Rights of Man, 1945; Recognition in International Law, 1947; International Law and Human Rights, 1950; Development of International Law of the International Court, 1958.

He was also editor of numerous legal journals: Oppenheim’s International Law, 1935-1955; the Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases, which from 1950 were known as the International Law Reports; the British Year Book of International Law 1944-1955; Joint Editor of the Cambridge Series of International and Comparative Law; and a contributor to the Cambridge History of the British Empire.


88 archive box(es)

Language of Materials



Quite a number of letters in the correspondence series, LAUT 1, had been misfiled or given the wrong year, presumably when Sir Elihu Lauterpacht was writing his father's biography: these have now been replaced in the correct file, where possible. There had been a numerical filing sequence for part of the archive, possibly dating back to the time of Elihu's edition of Hersch's collected papers, but quite a number of files from this sequence had been taken out and put among Elihu's later research notes for the biography. Where it was possible to see where the files had originally come from, they have been returned to their earlier places.

Other Finding Aids

Copies of this finding aid are available at Churchill Archives Centre.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from the Lauterpacht family in three accessions, June-September 2017.


The "Life of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht", by Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. Previously Elihu Lauterpacht had edited "International Law: the collected papers of Sir Hersch Lauterpacht", a five volume edition of his father's legal papers, published between 1970 and 2004.


This finding aid was compiled by Katharine Thomson of Churchill Archives Centre in 2022-23, with biographical information being taken from Who Was Who (A & C Black) and from an article by Philippe Sands in the Guardian, 2010.


Lauterpacht, Sir Hersch, 1897-1960, Knight, international lawyer

2017-07-31 14:35:28.090000+00:00
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Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087