Judgement at Nuremberg is the name of a 1961 movie detailing the trial
of four German judge
s during the Nuremberg Trials
The four are accused of being a member of criminal
commiting war crimes
--in other words, aiding the Nazi Party
World War II
The film garnered two Academy Awards in 1962: Maximilian Schell
won for Best Actor, and Abby Mann for Best Writing, Screenplay Based
on Material from Another Medium. It was nominated for nine more,
including Best Picture and Best Director.
It was later made into a Broadway play, which opened in March of 2001.
Both versions are captivating inquiries into just who should
be held responsible for the Nazis and their atrocities. As the
prosecutor says at one point, according to the Germans
"There were no Nazis at all in Germany! Germany must've been invaded
by Eskimos, who took over the whole damn government without anyone knowing
about it!"--sarcastically implying that almost everyone must've known what was going on at the time.
All the German civilians the judge talks to during the course of the
movie claim that they didn't know what was going on during the war...and
if they did, "what could we do?"
The defense attorney argues that if you find the judges guilty, then
you must also find all the American industrialists who financially backed
Hitler and helped him rebuild Germany guilty, along with everyone else
who had the slightest thing to do helping the Nazis come to power. He admits that Adolf Hitler and the top men were all evil and should be punished, but that there has to be a limit on how many Germans can be accused, lest all of Germany itself be put on trial.
It also poses the question: At what point does the rationale "I was
only following orders" go from making you an obedient soldier into a criminal?