'In 2009 we began following our great grandfather to the places that had been important in his life,
discovering more about him on the way from his description in his autobiography, A Political Adventure..' (Lily)
We researched the places he lived and worked. Edinburgh, Dornoch Oxford, Liverpool, London, Nuremberg and finally Strasbourg are at the heart of this story. Each has been visited, revisited and recorded. In many we have performed Dreams of Peace & Freedom. Each has become home. And our record and love of these places is the canvas for our story.
This story began with the unearthing of love letters exchanged between David and Sylvia Maxwell Fyfe while he was prosecuting for the UK at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. 35 years after Maxwell Fyfe's death, boxes of personal papers were unearthed in the vaults of Allen & Overy in the City. Not only did they form an intimate portrait of their lives, but a history of significant times.
Hidden amongst them were speeches, papers and memorabilia, all waiting to share their secrets. Throughout the trials Maxwell Fyfe made important contributions and these are all recorded in transcripts. Most notable was his cross-examination of Goering (' widely considered the most significant cross-examination of modern times' - Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh), and his closing statement aginst the Nazi organisations. But there are also reports from contemporary newspapers, and extracts from ‘The Wishing Doll’, a series of stories written at that time by David Maxwell Fyfe for his daughter Miranda.
Visit the pages by clicking on the tiles to discover more.
During this time, and leading up to the 2020 anniversaries, the political climate has become increasingly turbulent, and we became aware that the issues raised by our family history are topical, and more controversial than we may have first thought.
Over time we have confronted these issues head on. Current events are reflected through the prism of our story to further the values embedded within it, and a selection of our social media responses to unfolding parliamentry disarray are also part of our book, and our story telling.
The Human's in the Telling is a story of historic events that has been over 20 years in the making.
When, in 1998, Tom first brought home the boxes of his grandfather's papers that had secretly lain in the vaults of Allen & Overy for over 30 years,
our daughter Lily was 2 years old, Robert not yet born, and we had no idea as he unpacked the collection of papers, letters and transcripts,
what a large part the contents were going to have in our future life together.
In this scrapbook we informally assemble those key documents, that are signposts on David Maxwell Fyfe's journey from Nuremberg to Strasbourg alongside our journey researching them. It will bring these parallel stories alive as his letters & transcripts, and our blogs and tweets, are all organised as one calendar year, so that events from different years and stories can juxtapose, chime and jar.
This book supports the commemorative performances of Dreams of Peace & Freedom to be given in the build-up to the anniversaries of the opening of The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights in November 2020.
It will also support the outreach programme to young people in human rights organisations in the 47 signatory states to the Convention, as we share our story of our human rights hero to encourage them to share theirs.
In addition, it tells how we, members of his family, have told his story, focusing on Lily and Robert who have literally grown up with the project and are now its principals. Lily and Robert are experienced YouTube performers and producers and are independently publishing for Generation Z. They want to reach out to their contemporaries and bring this history alive for them.
The Human's in the Telling provides more detail and context to the words in the song cycle,
along with further extracts from the letters exchanged between David and Sylvia Maxwell Fyfe,
government papers from the National Archive, commentary and observation.
Against the background of the present political climate
Maxwell Fyfe's journey from Nuremberg to Strasbourg seems more important than ever.
1945 - David Maxwell Fyfe flies out to Nuremberg, 1917- Maxwell Fyfe goes up to Oxford, 1946 - his daughter Pamela goes up to Oxford, where he addresses the Conservative Association about his experiences in Nuremberg, 2016 - English Cabaret commemorate that address with a performance of Dreams of Peace & Freedom in Mansfield College Oxford, 1877 - his great Uncle dies as a result of the late Clearance of Skibo, 1883 - Napier Commission enquires into the Clearances, 2012 & 2013 - his great-grandchildren go to Sutherland to explore his past, 2016 - his grandson is interviewed about his grandfather's legacy for BuzzFeed, 2018 - First People's Vote March.