Judgment at Nurember - Essay Example

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The Judgment at Nuremberg Introduction The film titled Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 drama movie that depicts the Holocaust and the post-World War 11 Trials was written by Abby Mann and directed by the famous Stanley Kramer. Richard Widmark, Spencer Tracy, Werner Klemperer, Burt Lancaster, Maximilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner and Montgomery Clift starred in the movie (Bradley, pg 67)…
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The Judgment at Nuremberg Introduction The film d Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 drama movie that depicts the Holocaustand the post-World War 11 Trials was written by Abby Mann and directed by the famous Stanley Kramer. Richard Widmark, Spencer Tracy, Werner Klemperer, Burt Lancaster, Maximilian Schell, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, William Shatner and Montgomery Clift starred in the movie (Bradley, pg 67). The preceding version had been shown on a television event of Playhouse 90 and Klemperer and Schell starred in the same roles in this version as well. It was amongst the first films to be made about the World War II Holocaust (Bradley, pg 76). The film depicts the trial of some panel of judges who worked in the courts during the Nazi administration in Germany. The movie was motivated by the Judges’ Trial before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal Nuremberg in 1947, where four of the defendants were sentenced to life in prison. A most interesting part is where the film's plot involves a "race defilement" trial branded as the "Feldenstein case". In this movie is a fictionalized case, which is based on the real life Katzenberger Trial, where an old Jewish man was tried for an indecent affair with an "Aryan" woman, and for this he was sentenced to death in 1942 (Bradley, pg 98). The Judgment at Nuremberg deals with the military tribunal in which the four judges are charged of crimes against humanity for their connections to the Nazi regime. Judge Dan Haywood who is the chief justice in this case, strives to understand how the defendant, one Ernst Janning might have passed the sentences to the Jews which ensued in genocide, and in addition how the German citizens may possibly have turned their blind eyes and deaf ears during the infamous Holocaust. By doing so, he makes friendship with the widow of a German general who is executed by the Allies and also gets into consultation with a number of Germans with different viewpoints about the war. The other characters the Judge meets up with are the United States of America Army Captain Byers, who is assigned to the American party that is hearing the cases. Irene Wallner is also assigned the case but, is afraid to bring the evidence that might turn the case against the judges in favor of the prosecution. By meeting these people, they then plan on how to deal with the Jews indiscriminately so as to pass the sentences not according to the law but against humanity. The movie scrutinizes the questions of individual complicity of the judges in the crimes committed by the state. For instance, the defense attorney Hans Rolfe raises such matters as the support of U. S. Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. for eugenics practices, the Hitler-Vatican Reichskonkordat in 1933 and the Nazi-Soviet in 1939 that permitted Hitler to initiate World War II and Winston Churchill’s approval of Adolf Hitler. In the end, Janning makes a statement reproaching his fellow defendants and himself for "going along" with the Third Reich and all four are eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He argues that his love of the country led to thoughts of ‘my country right or wrong’ and that disobedience to the Fuehrer would have been an option between treason and patriotism for the judges (Bradley, pg 123). But why did the educated stand aside to go against what they knew to be the truth? The answer is simple. They did so for the love of their country. The movie shows just how easy it is to have some people who work with or for the court tends to go against the law just because they have been bought by the state. It also teaches those who are laymen in the matters of the law that ‘the law is an ass’ and that most lawyers and judges can get away with any case that is brought into a court of law if and when they are compromised either by money or patriotism. The movie makes one to understand that the German care what they had done during the Holocaust and that they had no remorse at all. The film is remarkable in that it screens the actual historical footage documented by the American soldiers after the emancipation of the Nazi concentration camps. What was revealed in court by prosecuting attorney Colonel Tad Lawson and the footage of huge piles of naked corpses placed out in rows and then bulldozed into large pits was extraordinarily horrific for a conventional movie of its day. This movie presents the main early roles for two actors who later become famous in film and television during the 1960s: Werner Klemperer as Emil Hahn, starring as one of the judges on trial, and William Shatner as Captain Byers but there is also a short but noteworthy role for Howard Caine as Irene Wallner's husband. Incidentally, Weiner Klemperer was an authentic refugee from Nazi Germany who later immigrated permanently to the U.S. after Hitler's rise to power in 1934. As a Jewish refugee, he served in the U.S. Air Force at some stage in World War II and then landed television and stage and roles, the most well-known being the goofy Col. Klink on the vastly trendy sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Howard Caine also went on to hit upon fame by his appearances as the wicked Maj. Hochstetter in Hogan’s Heroes and on the stage elsewhere (Bradley, pg 199). My understanding of the legal system as articulated in this movie is that a case that is brought before a court of law mostly depends on whether the lawyers and the judges are afraid of the state or are on the same side when and if influenced by some circumstances. There is however much to be learnt from this movie as far as history on the Holocaust is concerned. Conclusion The film ends with Haywood's having to choose between patriotism and justice. He rejects the call to let the Nazi judges off lightly to gain Germany's support in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The film shows just how gullible some judges can get especially if they tend to think that they serve the government to please some senior officials and without regard to the laid down laws that deal with human dignity and do not go against the victims human rights. In the modern world, such judges would be taken to the International Criminal Courts and be tried for committing crimes against humanity. A good number of former despotic rulers have landed there including, the former President of Liberia Charles Taylor while some six suspects who are believed to have committed crimes against humanity in Kenya in 2008 are waiting to know whether their cases will be confirmed for hearing in January 2012. Reference Bradley, Sean. Judgment at Nuremberg, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. 2008. Allen, Charles R. Nazi War Criminals in America: Facts. Action: The Basic Handbook. Charles R. Allen, Jr. New York: Highgate House, 1985. Read More
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