AP Euro Convicts Stalin

Grace Deskin, Staff Writer

 The AP European History classes held a mock trial in which Joseph Stalin was accused of committing various crimes against humanity.  The trial was executed on Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11, during periods 6 and 7

“The first day the judge opens the trial, and then you have all the witnesses give their statements, and then at the end the judge gives their verdict if the person is guilty or not,” sophomore Ellen Gerst explained.

According to sophomore Harry Finnerty, the jury helped the judge decide on a verdict.

In both periods, Stalin was found guilty on 3 charges and innocent on 2.

Students played the roles of attorneys, witnesses, the judge, and the jury.  “The judge has to prepare their order of events, attorneys have to prepare questions, and witnesses have to prepare statements and their testimonies, and they have to answer questions.  And then if you’re the jury you just have to write a paper based on notes you take in class,” Gerst said.

According to Finnerty, there were two attorneys on each side, one judge, 5 to 10 witnesses on each side, and the rest of the students comprised the jury.  Students in the trial were graded on their performance in the trial, but jury members were graded on the paper they wrote, according to Finnerty.

According to Gerst, Euro trials center around famous leaders.  “You learn about how there’s never just one side to a story.  If most people think a certain ruler is bad, then there’s someone defending him, and it brings up some good stuff they did,” she said.

According to Finnerty, some of the work the students had to do was difficult, but it was worth it in end.  “It’s a way to really bring history to life in a way that engages students,” he said.

Gerst believes that trials are a nice break from the normal class routine.  “You don’t have to homework while the trial’s going on, and so it’s kind of nice, and it’s also fun to pretend to be someone else,” she said.

“I think it’s really fun if you can make someone look stupid, or you can try to cross people up, but, to me, if you aren’t in the actual trial, it’s not a lot of fun,” Finnerty said.

Students in the jury were in the Louis XIV trial last semester.