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The Paul von Bergen Collection re Prosecution of Japanese War Criminals (Yokohama Trials)

Identifier: MSS-2016-05

Scope and Contents

This collection contains approximately 2,000 pages of typed notes and preparatory materials that Paul K. von Bergen compiled as chief prosecutor for several cases at the Yokohama War Crimes Trials (1946-1949). Concurrent to the larger International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo, the Yokohama Trials operated under U.S., rather than international, authority and focused on lower-level military personnel and civilians accused of Class "B" and "C" war crimes (conventional war crimes and crimes against humanity).

The documents in this collection represent von Bergen’s research as chief prosecutor for U.S. v. Kajuro Aihara et al., U.S. v. Kiyoharu Tomomori et al., and a few other cases related to the mistreatment of American Prisoners of War in the Japanese city of Fukuoka. The cases revolved around the extra-judicial execution of POWs at Japan's Western Army Headquarters and medical experiments conducted at the nearby Kyushu Imperial University. Owing to the size of these cases (Aihara et al. had 30 defendants, Tomomori et al. 25), and the nature of the crimes, they received considerable attention from the U.S. press at the time.


  • Creation: undated

Biographical / Historical

Paul K. von Bergen was born in Niles, Ohio in 1915. After receiving his A.B. at the University of Michigan in 1937 he went on to earn an LL.B. at the University of Virginia in 1940. Upon graduation he moved to Michigan, where he entered general practice and served in state and federal courts before joining the army in 1943. After initially working on court-martial cases he began prosecuting Japanese war criminals as a U.S. military lawyer from October 1945 until his discharge in July 1946. He continued working for the military as a civilian lawyer, serving aschief prosecutor for the above-mentioned cases at the Yokohama War Crimes Trials. He remained in the government's employ until July 1949, when he returned to the U.S. and resumed general practice in Michigan. He passed away in 1990.


1.7 Cubic Feet (2 archival boxes, and one archival carton.)

Language of Materials



Small collection of statements of Japanese individuals.war criminals.


The papers were transferred from eight original binders (labelled A-G, I, J-Ko, Ku-Miz, Mo-Nu, O-Sa, Se-Tan, U-Z) to 22 folders preserving the original alphabetical organization. The documents consist of von Bergen's research and notes, including: full and excerpted segments of accused and witness statements, short biographies of the accused, petitions to the SCAP Legal Section for the apprehension of suspected war criminals, diagrams, sketches, and captioned photographs of the locations of the incidents, and other notes. Pages are typewritten with occasional handwritten marginalia and corrections.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the Law Library Mark and Paul von Bergen Jr. in November of 2016.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States