catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Judge for yourself! Judgment at Nuremburg now on DVD


Jan 19 2005
10:15 pm

:arrow: It’s over 3 hours long, so don’t pop it in to entertain the kids. But Judgment at Nuremburg is considered so good that this movie is listed on some of the Nuremburg trial sites as a resource.

Abby Mann (who wrote t he book and who also wrote the screenplay) claims, in a new interview on this DVD, that the film was the first to show the concentration camp “dead bodies and starving persons” footage we all have seen at some time or another. He said (in tle late 50’s early 60’s) that college students of that era (who would have been young children during and after WWII) didn’t seem to think the concentration camps were “real” until this film came out. (Note—those college students experienced part of the first TVera.—i.e. It’s not real unless we see it on tV/film.)

Trial of four fictional “mid manager” German judges is portrayed. If you ONLY like violent action movies, comical ogres in full color, or hobbits going after rings, forget this movie. But if you also enjoy fascinating courtroom dramas, view this movie.

It’s 1947-48 in Nuremburg, Germany, the former “spiritual” site of the recently defeated Third Reich. The biggest Nazis were already tried & convicted and public interest has disappeared. The US judge (Spencer Tracy) and the prosecutor (Richard Widmark) face heat from their own government to “go easy” on the German judges as the German good will is needed in the face of the ripening late 1940’s Cold War with the Soviet Union. Other ethical problems in “judging the judges” arise.

The film shows a witness subject to Nazi’s "genetic and social engineering—a man forcibly sterilized both because of his low intelligence and because his father was a Communist. His tragic testimony is used to show how these educated men perverted justice to serve their new dictator’s whims.

Also, Judy Garland (Wizard of Oz fame) is brilliantly tragic as the “Aryan” woman who had been convicted by one of the Nazi judges of sleeping with a Jewish man, in violation of Hitler’s 1930’s race relations laws. This past Nazi trial is said to be a lightly fictionalized version of a real Nazi “race law” trial.

film’s great drama portrays the issues of “What is justice?” and “Is justice anything the state says it is, or is it defined by a higher source than the state?”

and other key issues of social, cultural, genetic, and national morality which are still incredibly timely. [/b:92e8eb741c]

Educational and or spiritual value?
Film probably PG 13 because of black&white conc. camp footage. Great for mature high school or college students or anyone else to discuss issues of morality, justice and law.

A great starting point for discussing “What is the moral basis for our laws?” “What is the proper role of a judge in society?” and other such ethics or law questions.