It has been three years since the most important Nazi leaders had already been tried. This trial is about 4 judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. Retired American judge, Dan Haywood has a daunting task ahead of him. The Cold War is heating up and no one wants any more trials as Germany, and Allied governments, want to forget the past. But is that the right thing to do is the question that the tribunal must decide. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Immediately upon hearing his sentence, Emil Hahn (Werner Klemperer) declares, "Today you sentence me; tomorrow the Bolsheviks will sentence you!". Whether intended or not, those words strongly parallel the last words of the notorious Julius Streicher as he was about to be hanged following his conviction at the first Nuremberg Trial. As the black hood was placed over his head, Streicher screamed, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!" See more »
At the end of the movie a graphic states that 99 people were tried and sentenced at Nuremberg and that by the date of the movie (1961) none remained in prison. Some critics have pointed out that Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hess was tried at Nuremberg, found guilty on two of four counts charged (crimes against peace and conspiracy) and sentenced to life in 1946. He died in 1987 still imprisoned in Spandau Prison. Yet the caption in the film states that the statistic refers only to the Nuremberg trials "held in the American sector." Hess and the other major defendants were tried by the International Military Tribunal (with judges and prosecutors from each of the four victorious Allied powers). After this major trial, other trials were held in each of the four occupation sectors. By 1961, all of the defendants sentenced in the American trials were indeed free; the graphic is therefore correct. See more »
Col. Tad Lawson:
One thing about Americans, we're not cut out to be occupiers. We're new at it and not very good at it.
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Would a film of that candor have a chance of being made today?
I watched "Judgment at Nuremburg" on PBS the other night. I had never seen it before. I expected an empty-headed, Hollywood-style, quasi-melodrama, but I was pleasantly surprised. Even Spencer Tracy, that universally beloved actor whose appeal has always escaped me, gave an honest and heartfelt portrayal of a "simple man" who was also a deeply conflicted judge.
What I liked most about this movie was that it didn't pull any punches, in the manner of other "controversial" films of its time. The defense attorney, superbly played by Maximilian Schell, weaves a simple, but undeniable web of logic:
Sterilization of "undesirables," one of the charges against the Nazi
war criminals, was at one time condoned by the U.S. courts, and encouraged by none other than Oliver Wendell Holmes. - Numerous leading industrialists in the U.S. contributed to the development of the Nazi war machine. - Encouragement was given to Hitler's expansionism by both Russia and England. - Churchill is quoted as having admired Hitler. - The Vatican actively collaborated with the Nazis.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it must have taken major cojones to present that kind of message to American filmgoers in 1961. Would a film of that candor have a chance of being made today?
I tend to doubt it.
One further note. The film describes how the Nazis went about stripping the German judiciary of judges who were known for their objectivity, and replacing them with judges who were appointed based solely on their party loyalties.
The mind boggles at the implications and yes, the prescience of this well-written, well-played masterpiece.
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