HAUNTING AND VIVID. What this documentary shows is how a vital and indispensable principle of humanity was restored. – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
**** MESMERIZING. ‘Nuremberg’ couldn't be more of the moment. Something of a minor miracle. – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
The reason it has the power to shock, appall and infuriate is because of its TRUTH. – Stuart Klawans, The Nation
RIVETING! More powerful than any fictional courtroom drama could hope to be. – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
POWERFUL. A definitive rebuke to all Holocaust deniers. – Lou Lumenick, The New York Post
AN EYE-OPENING FIND. Excerpts from the Nazis’ own films of their dirty work, used as evidence against them, will shock even the most jaded History Channel addict. – David Fear, TIME OUT New York
COMPACT AND DEVASTATING…. an intensely riveting 78-minute portrait [of] one of the 20th century's first and biggest media spectacles. – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com
Brilliantly restored by [Stuart Schulberg’s] daughter Sandra and Josh Waletzky….The reconstruction of the 1948 documentary [NUREMBERG] is a remarkable feat. – Ian Buruma, The New York Review of Books
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By Martin Gottlieb, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
A 1948 movie about the Nuremberg trials, made by the U.S. government, has resurfaced after rotting for decades in storage after Washington decided not to distribute it in this country.
Calling it government-made might give the wrong idea; the government-Hollywood connection was intense in those days.
The movie, Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today, was made by Stuart Schulberg, brother of the famed writer Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront).
Both Shulbergs were second-generation Hollywooders who worked for director John Ford in the forerunner of the CIA.
The movie was found, restored, and circulated by Sandra Schulberg, daughter of Stuart. She is a film producer and financier. She spoke when the film was shown Oct. 24 at the University of Dayton as part of UD’s speaker series. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Walter Rice chaired a panel discussion afterward.
The film’s main purpose was to thwart the rise of any possible revisionism in Germany: to make sure the German people knew beyond doubt that the case against the Third Reich was rock solid, not only as to the Holocaust, but as to Hitler’s thoroughly aggressive, relentlessly duplicitous march toward war and European domination. The film was shown in Germany at the time.
The Nuremberg trials — put together in that German city by the World War II Allies in 1945 — have been criticized for putting people on trial for “crimes” that hadn’t been codified as crimes before the war.
But the trials are also widely praised for, among other things, using the special powers and resources of governments to very publicly document at length the atrocities and duplicities at a time when documents and witnesses were plentiful.
Among the “documents” were, for the first time, movies. The Allies got their hands on films taken by the Nazis, and the Hollywood corps made their own.
The courtroom saw images that are largely familiar now to many people, but were far newer and more shocking then.
The films shown in the trial are shown in the movie, though edited for length. We see, for example, half-dead people being corralled into a chamber into which automobile exhaust fumes are being funneled: a forerunner of what was to come.
In the courtroom, western Allies are shown cooperating with the Soviet Union. Kremlin prosecutors take their turn at the examination of witnesses.
This turned out to be a problem later, when the Cold War broke out in full force. Officials in Washington eventually decided they didn’t want to circulate a movie in this country that might focus hostility on the Germans (our new allies) and praise on the Soviets (our new enemies). Also, some American military men apparently were uncomfortable with putting any military men in the dock. And, after all, the government owned the movie.
So although U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson — the main American prosecutor at Nuremberg — wanted the movie released in the United States, it went into storage.
Sandra Schulberg dove into the project of finding the film and restoring it while her uncle was still alive; her father had already died.
In the panel discussion, Dr. Larry Flockerzie, a European specialist in UD’s history department, noted that the trial had an important effect that has not been much noted: It removed a generation of people who might otherwise have been leaders in Germany in the next two decades, helping to close an era.
The first trial, the subject of the movie, involved the biggest names the Allies had arrested. It was only the first of many trials.
Dr. Alexandra Budabin, a political scientist at UD specializing in human rights studies, noted that despite this country’s leading role at Nuremberg, Washington has still not signed on to the International Criminal Court, a permanent agency at the Hague, Netherlands for conducting war crimes trials. She said different American administrations have taken different positions on it. Opponents fear that American troops are more exposed to prosecution than any others, given U.S. foreign policy.
Schulberg proposed Senate ratification of the ICC treaty. She also spoke of having shown the movie to people in the Middle East who told her they had no idea about the Nazi story before, but who believed that the movie was telling the truth. One woman said that she had previously thought Hitler was a great man.
For young people and others who don’t know a lot about World War II and the Holocaust, the movie is a powerful primer, covering a great range of important subjects concisely.
For others, it may not offer an enormous amount of new information. But there’s a sort of you-are-there quality to its coverage of the trial, an immersion in that postwar time and place, when the world officially came to grips with unheard of evil, when it tried to apply civilized judgment to the collapse of civilization.
A small group of veterans and community members gathered at the Auburn Public Theater Friday for a glimpse into one of the most dramatic court trials in history.
The Nuremberg Trials, although dramatic, were not highly publicized at the time. The trials lasted between Nov. 21, 1945 and Oct. 1, 1946 and Nazi war criminals were tried and convicted prior to sentences ranging from life imprisonment to death by hanging.
The documentary, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, [The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration]" was originally completed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg, who worked for the Office of Strategic Services' Field Photographic Branch in the War Crimes Unit. He documented the trials for the U.S. Department of War.
Schulberg's daughter, Sandra Schulberg, restored the film and for the first time since it was made more than 60 years ago, American audiences can see the footage that the U.S. government tried to suppress, according to government correspondence.
Films of Nazi activities were used in Nuremberg as evidence, a practice started by Robert H. Jackson, who was chosen to be the chief U.S. prosecutor at the first Nuremberg Trial. Sections of two original films, "The Nazi Plan," made up of footage shot by Nazis, and "Nazi Concentration Camps," footage shot by American and British troops who liberated the camps, are included in Schulberg's documentary of the trials.
"He integrated into the film about the trial a great deal of Nazi footage," Sandra Schulberg.
On Friday, veterans Christopher Spagnola and John Cameron, both of Auburn, joined others in the theater to watch the restored documentary.
"I knew some about it — what they showed us, but not too much," Cameron said. "I often wondered why we didn't hear more about it."
Cameron said he served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II.
Spagnola, who served in the Air Force and flew 35 missions over Germany in a B24, said Sandra Schulberg's project of restoring her father's film and making it available to Americans was a worthwhile one.
"I think a lot of people don't realize what was going on or what happened," he said.
Sandra Schulberg said she hopes to release the DVD of the documentary by the end of the year.
One of the more fascinating moments in "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," occurs about 15 minutes in. A news documentary that covers the first in a series of military tribunals held in the wake of World War II, the film includes the opening statement from Robert H. Jackson, a Supreme Court justice who was the chief prosecutor. Though he speaks in measured tones, the words leave no question as the trial's intent: "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, so devastating that civilization can not tolerate their being ignored because it can not survive their being repeated."
Stuart Schulberg's filmed document of the 1945-46 trial of the Nazi hierarchy at Nuremberg, partly damaged and lost, has been restored by his daughter Sandra.
The evidence it adduces isn't new, but it is still shocking: footage of the ghetto liquidations, of the camps, of the executions, was now shown in the courtroom to momentous effect.
As US Chief Prosecutor Jackson says in his opening statement, "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated".
It is horribly fascinating to watch the 20 or so accused in the dock listening on headphones as their crimes are enumerated. Even the verdicts are startling: while 12 were sentenced to hang, three of the leaders were acquitted. It was not enough, clearly – but what on earth could have been?
This long suppressed film about the postwar Nuremberg trials is still a shocking, important documentary
"He who battles monsters should see to it that he thereby does not become a monster," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche; these words underpin any attempt to subject criminal regimes to the rule of law. This documentary, commissioned by the US War Department in 1946, was screened in Germany as part of the de-Nazification programme, but never released in the US and Britain. It is a near-contemporaneous record of the Allied attempt to prosecute prominent Nazi leaders, and proceeds in deliberately artless fashion, essaying in preçis the legal charges and proofs while resisting voyeuristic lingering on the reactions of the accused: Goering, Speer et al, are not even clearly identified. Much of the evidential atrocity footage of was filmed by the Nazis themselves, all the more traumatic to see now because of its unfamiliarity. Meeting the demands of justice whilst filtering out the thirst for vengeance is no easy matter; here, the distinction is a matter of primacy.
Stuart Schulberg’s harrowing 1948 film is an important educational document.
Liev Schreiber intones the narration for this startling and powerful assemblage of archive material which uses the various indictments aimed at captured Nazi war criminals as a conceptual springboard.
Even though the infamous Nuremberg trials were intended as a fair and democratic way in which to dismantle the Nazi death machine one filthy fragment at a time, an introductory speech suggests that the mountains of evidence gathered by a pan-global team of allied lawyers was close to being incontrovertible.
Thus, the trials and the film offer a stern teaching which says that those who start a war will pay for it personally. Unlike celebrated documentaries on the Nazis and their horrendous project such as Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah and Alain Resnais’Night and Fog, Stuart Schulberg’s Nuremberg is, formally-speaking, a very conventional work. Even after a concerted effort to destroy the Nazi paper trail, this film proves, among other things, that the extent of crimes committed by the Nazi regime were such that they simply not be concealed.
And so, we’re shown footage of a post-war Germany left in a state of dangerous ruin, its people starving, homeless and on the precipice of death. We’re shown the various rallies and meetings in which controversial policies were outlined by Nazi commanders. We’re also shown famous scenes from the concentration camps, in which the emaciated corpses of the deceased are tossed and manhandled as if they were bags of garbage.
It is only in the film’s second half that we see the criminals take to the stand – among them Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Robert H Jackson, Albert Speer, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Alfred Rosenberg. Their attempts to pin all blame on Hitler are pathetic, and they make audacious claims that even while Jews, Russians and anyone who didn’t ascribe to the genealogical dictates of a German master race were being exterminated at a staggering degree, they still knew nothing of the harsh realities of their deskbound bureaucracy.
If anything, their crimes are magnified tenfold when judged against their near-total lack of guilt and willingness to accept that their game is up. Watching these newsreels, many of them depicting some of the most abhorrent atrocities ever committed to film, you’re reminded how watered down most fictionalised movie accounts of the war are.
Even the most unflinching of World War II films could never truly recapture the horror of what happened during the Nazi era, and it makes documentaries like this all the more vital.
Tony Kirwood reviews archive footage of the Nuremberg war crimes trial. Available to view for the first time in 64 years it is a film that must be seen and remains as relevant as ever.
The opening image is of renewal: a woman holds a naked baby as she emerges from a hole in the ground. Next we see streets full of rubble and crowds of distressed and angry people. The narrator asks “How did this happen?” This official film of the Nuremberg Trials tried to give an answer and a sense of hope for the citizens of postwar Europe and for us today.
After being made, it was astonishingly quashed by the US military for viewings outside Germany. This is our first chance to see it for 64 years. Director Stuart Schulberg of the US Signal Corps was only allowed to shoot 25 hours of film throughout the 10 months of the trial. Images from the courtroom are interspersed with newsreel and Nazi propaganda. To add to his difficulties, Shulberg had to dub crucial moments such as Goering’s testimony with the audio record.
None of this takes from the film’s power. The evidence against the 22 defendants was made up entirely from the Nazi’s own records. As chilling as the deeds themselves was the cold-blooded way they were logged. We see the orders, the diaries and footage of the cynical annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the invasion of Poland, the crimes against civilians and POWs and finally, and devastatingly, the Holocaust against the Jews.
There was criticism at the time that the four charged crimes - conspiracy, crime against the peace, war crime and crime against humanity - had been made up on the spot and that this was a show trial. Watching the film now it is hard to question the meticulousness and fairness of the proceedings. The criminals were convicted from their own evidence.
The final thirty minutes shuts us in the courtroom with the notorious defendants as they give their testimony. What does watching them tell us about Nazi psychology? Most of them – Jodl, Streicher, Rosenberg – sit still and impassive. Goering slumps, looking almost bored. In turn they blame Hitler, each other or “excesses” and “abuses”. They veer between repressed denial and hysteria and remain a mystery.
After the horrors came the verdicts. Twelve were sentenced to hang, seven to lengthy prison terms and three acquitted (but later convicted in German courts). My own sense of hope was revived by the solemn but warm handshakes between the courtroom officials as they stood to leave.
This film should be seen. It’s as relevant as ever.
Stuart Schulberg’s Nuremberg, originally released in 1948, is distinguished as the first documentary made about the Holocaust. While exhibited fairly extensively in Germany as part of the Allied De-Nazification initiative, it received little play elsewhere, and with the U.S. soon enough turning their attention to Cold War concerns, the film became something of an artefact.
Resurrected and restored by Schulberg’s daughter Sandra alongside Josh Waletzky – complete with both a new title and score, as well as strong re-recorded narration provided by Liev Schreiber – Nuremberg remains in its new form a harrowing but important contraction of the key beats which brought about some of World War 2’s most heinous acts.
Beginning with footage of a desolate, restless post-war Europe, Schulberg then transports us to the beginning of the Nuremberg trials, as footage recorded by and confiscated from Nazi soldiers – much of it appearing in this doc – is turned inward and forms part of the evidence used against them. It is a fascinating legal play and one which in effect helped the Nazi conspirators tie their own nooses, as well as illustrate the film medium’s mighty political potential.
A chilling opening statement from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson lodges firmly in the mind as it focuses on the notion of collective worldwide responsibility to stop tyranny, about dealing with a previously unimaginable capacity for evil. Thankfully this is not a notion we have to ponder much nowadays, but this prologue of sorts is a firm reminder of mankind’s savage capabilities.
Poring over extensive footage retrieved from Germany, Schulberg starts at the beginning, with the birth of the Nazi party, and how the infamous Reichstag fire of 1933 was leveraged to limit civil rights in the country. From here, industry picked up, Germany began mass-producing weapons, instigating compulsory military service, all ultimately in preparation for the impending war. Frightening it is how obvious in retrospect the Nazi conceit seems, and how easily Adolf Hitler deceived the world, as well as, so it is claimed, some of his own followers.
While Schulberg’s documentary is simplistic enough for those not acquainted with the finer historical details, the extensive array of evocative imagery on display will likely make it of interest to well-schooled history buffs also. What distinguishes it truly, is that Schulberg opts not to reductively railroad his film directly towards the Nazi’s most infamously heinous act, instead probing into all the disturbing pretext as well.
A well-structured narrative format keeps things pacily bounding along, cutting between the trial and footage of the lead-up to World War 2, the war itself, and the aftermath. While the imagery of emaciated prisoners and mass graves, though familiar, never ceases to shock, the lesser-known reactions of those in the dock prove almost as disturbing. Responses range from bored, with palm resting on face, to aggressively unrepentant, while others claim to know little of the Nazi party’s more grievous infractions altogether, decrying Hitler’s betrayal of their core values. Ultimately, as the verdict is read, most all are damned as the inevitable flaws of their flimsy defences – many of which hinged on Germany having little idea of how its own infrastructure operated – crumple.
Providing some modern context with its reissue might have been useful, though one can appreciate Sandra Schulberg not wanting to insist herself upon her father’s work. That said, subtitling to help identify the various defenders in the dock would have been unobtrusively useful, given the degraded nature of the film print (admirably restored though it is).
Schulberg achieves a difficult editorial feat of breezing through a hugely significant part of world history without ever appearing to rush. The lack of currency admittedly places us at something of an arm’s length to it, and as such it is less a passionate examination to be championed, and more a vital historical document to be admired.
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today begins a week-long run at London’s Barbican Cinema from Friday.
This 1948 doc about the postwar Nuremberg trials is showing at the Barbican for one week with intros before each screening by the director Stuart Schulberg’s daughter, Sandra, plus other guests. Which is just as well, as with little context ‘Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today’ could easily come across as an unhappy, if compelling, patchwork of wartime footage and recordings of the trial itself. The film becomes more interesting when you learn it was produced in adversity: filming at the trial was restricted and the availability of footage to illustrate the crimes committed by the Nazis was limited (Schulberg worked in a US Army unit under John Ford to collect such footage from Germany and formerly Nazi-occupied territories). So, part of the interest is that ‘Nuremberg’ was made at all. Once you consider, too, that it was only ever screened in Germany as part of a ‘re-education’ campaign and that its aim was to stress the transparent, rational approach of the trials, it becomes fascinating – as an artefact emerging from the immediate calm following a global storm.
Sobering and profound, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” — a film chronicling the post-World War II trials of Nazi war criminals — will be screened at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday (March 18) at Temple Beth Israel on Longboat Key.
“I think the film is quite relevant today, as people continue to brutalized by leaders who seek to obscure their actions through fraudulent propaganda and disinformation,” said Rabbi Jonathan R. Katz.
The movie, which has never been presented locally, opened in 2010. Director Sandra Schulberg will be present to discuss its relevance with audiences at the Longboat Key event.
Schulberg and Josh Waletzky reconstructed the 1940s version of the original film, which was never released in the United States. The story takes viewers through about 11 months of court proceedings using real footage of German leaders. The original film was written and directed by Sandra’s father, Stuart Schulberg.
Participants are invited to glimpse a piece of chilling history and talk about its modern significance.
Filmmaker Sandra Schulberg described "Nuremberg: A Lesson for Today" as a "long-lost movie."
That is no offhanded exaggeration.
The documentary was the U.S. goverment's film about the Nuremberg trial that brought Nazi leaders to court. It was made by Schulberg's father, Stuart Schulberg, who was part of John Ford's OSS War Crimes film team.
The resulting documentary was shown in Germany in 1948 and '49, as part of the Allies' de-Nazification efforts.
It was supposed to be screened in America, too - but it was never was.
In 2009, Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky restored the film and saw that it was finally shown in the U.S.
On Sunday, it was screened in New London, as part of the 18th annual International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut.
Sandra Schulberg was at the screening and spoke as part of a discussion panel that also included former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who is now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. Dodd's father, Thomas, was a primary prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial.
Exactly why the documentary wasn't screened in America back in the 1940s was a bit of a mystery. Schulberg said that, at the time, the Washington Post ran three long, investigative pieces on why the film was buried. No one would speak for attribution, but reporter John Norris wrote that it seemed the theory was that Americans were too simpleminded to keep more than one enemy in mind at a time.
What that meant: By the time "Nuremberg" would have been shown here, America was invested in rebuilding Germany. And, although the Soviet Union was an ally in the film, the country was America's new enemy by the late 1940s.
Schulberg said "Nuremberg" was therefore deemed "too dangerous, too impolitic" to be shown.
"This film became a victim of the Cold War," she said.
The original English negative of "Nuremberg," in fact, disappeared. When Schulberg and Waletzky wanted to restore the film, they had to work from the German print and reconstruct the soundtrack using the original sound from the trial. Actor Liev Schreiber reads the narration.
"Nuremberg" follows the trial, with footage from the proceedings. As the program notes say, the trial established the "Nuremberg principles," "laying the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity."
The documentary delves, too, into the Nazis' expansion of power through lies and aggression, and it documents their cruelty. The film includes scenes of Holocaust atrocities - impossibly emaciated, naked corpses being casually tossed into a pit; prisoners being led into a building where an early, make-shift gas chamber was set up, with a pipe running from a motor vehicle's exhaust pipe into the building.
That latter sequence was something Stuart Schulberg discovered after the war in the Berlin apartment of an SS agent.
Stuart Schulberg and his brother Budd were, in fact, sent to Germany to search for Nazi films that could be shown in the courtroom. The Nuremberg trial called upon footage that the Nazis themselves had shot, often as propoganda films or newsreels.
Dodd spoke Sunday about the trial's importantance. At the time, some people wanted summary executions, but important values were at stake in following the rule of law. The rule of law, he said, is a hallmark of who we are as a people.
Dodd talked, too, about his father's work at Nuremberg. Thomas Dodd wrote letters every day to his wife, who was back here in Connecticut. Chris Dodd discovered those letters in 1990 and turned them into the book "Letters from Nuremberg: My Father's Narrative of a Quest for Justice."
Chris Dodd said "Nuremberg" helps to ensure the trial will be a living memory.
"It should have been shown years and years ago. ... Every generation needs to learn these lessons," he said.
Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, said, "This is a remarkable film. This is a remarkable contribution to the historical record."
6:30 p.m. Introduction by Senator Chris Dodd & Sandra Schulberg
7:00 Screening (Not appropriate for children and young teens)
8:15 After-screening Panel Discussion with Connecticut College History Professor Mark Forster & German Professor Geoffrey Atherton, Retired Appellate Court Judge, Thomas Bishop, and Local Attorney Matthew Shafner
Made for the U.S. Dept of War in 1948, this historic film about the first Nuremberg trial was widely shown in Germany but suppressed in the U.S. Why was it banned? Come see for yourself, then go to the website to learn why one of the most important and dramatic films of our time was buried for more than 60 years.
“Haunting and Vivid. What this documentary shows is how a vital and indispensable principle of humanity was restored.” – A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“4 Stars. Mesmerizing. ‘Nuremberg’ couldn’t be more of the moment. Something of a minor miracle.” – Ann Homaday, The Washington Post
In the winter of 1946, Stuart Schulberg, Sandra’s father and his editor, Joe Zigman, were commissioned by Pare Lorentz (head of the Film/Theatre/Music in the Civil Affairs Division of the U.S. War Department of War) to create a documentary about the trial. The film was widely shown in Germany during 1948 and 1949, as part of the postwar campaign to denazify and re-educate German society.
The very government officials who had paid for the film to be made, got cold feet about showing it to American audiences so the original film deteriorated over time and virtually no one saw the movie in this country.
The Sandra Schulberg/Josh Waletzky restoration of the movie comes at an opportune time, for the “Nuremberg principles” are now being applied around the world in an effort to prosecute crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Sunday evening, March 4 will be of great interest to all who have an interest in history, due process, and civil liberties.
Sponsored by The Biber Family, in loving member of Jacob & Eva Biber; Ray Gawendo; Suisman, Shapiro, Wool, Brennan, Gray & Greenberg; Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society
As the International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut enters its 18th year, it's continuing to gather an eclectic, intriguing lineup.
But Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut, noticed a historical progression in the way the festival worked out, even if it wasn't by design.
"There's this arc of history that's kind of nice, having a beginning point - the culture of the Yiddish world before the state of Israel - and having the end-point be 'My So-Called Enemy' and 'Dolphin Boy' - modern Israel trying to heal wounds and solve problems.
"When (the festival lineup) was all done, it was laying out on paper, I said, 'Wow, look at this,'" Fischer says.
Indeed, the festival reaches back for "Sholem Aleichem," about the Yiddish writer whose creations include Tevye the Dairyman, inspiration for "Fiddler on the Roof."
It continues through "Nuremberg" (more on that below) to two films set during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War - "The Little Traitor," about a Jewish boy and an Englishman striking up a friendship, and "804," about South African volunteers in that war.
"100 Voices: A Journey Home" melds past and present as it reflects the history of Jewish culture in Poland. The fest reaches solidly into current times with "My So-Called Enemy" and the documentary "Dolphin Boy." The latter follows a teenaged boy from an Arab village in the north of Israel who disconnects after a violent attack and finds healing in a program with dolphins.
Leading off the festival's run, though, is "Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today," which will be screened Sunday at the Garde Arts Center.
This documentary is the official U.S. government's film about the trial, showing how prosecutors built their case against Nazi leaders. Stuart Schulberg made the movie for the War Department & U.S. Military Government. It was never, however, screened in the U.S. While the original negative is gone, filmmakers Sandra Schulberg (Stuart's daughter) and Josh Waletzky have created a new 35mm negative and added more original sound from the trial.
Sandra Schulberg and former Sen. Christopher Dodd are among those who will participate in a post-screening panel discussion Sunday.
In fact, festival organizers have been working to have more post-screening talks.
Fischer says, "The committee felt that when we had discussions after the films, they really worked. ... After a movie, when everybody sits there stunned or amazed, there should be a discussion afterward. People should have a chance to process what they're thinking."
by Frances Gibb
Click HERE to download PDF of the article.
By KELLY-ANN FRANKLIN
The International Jewish Film Festival of Eastern Connecticut, otherwise known as a “labor of love,” returns for its 18th year and will screen all but the opening film at Olin Hall at Connecticut College in New London.
“It is fun, it’s a lot of work ... it’s a labor of love for people on the committee,” said Jerome Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut.
The annual film festival will screen six films between Sunday and March 13, opening with “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” which will be screened at 7 p.m. Sunday at The Garde Arts Center in New London. Admission is $10, $5 for students.
The festival’s committee selected the six films based on several criteria.
“First, it has to be good,” Fischer said. “It has to capture the attention of, clearly, the majority of the committee, and it has to significantly not bore a majority of the committee. We don’t always have to have unanimous agreement.”
Opening night of the festival will include a reception at 6 p.m. and an introduction of “Nuremberg” by former Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who is the current CEO and the MPAA, and the film’s co-creator and producer, Sandra Schulberg. Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion beginning at 8:15 p.m. with faculty, judge Thomas Bishop, Dodd and Schulberg.
Fischer said each film holds a significance in terms of creating awareness of Jewish and Yiddish culture, but also with the state of the world today.
“Especially because of what’s going on in the world today. Now we’re seeing what (Syrian president Bashar) Assad is doing in Syria, and clearly it’s a crime against humanity,” Fischer said.
The film “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness,” by Joseph Dorman, will be shown March 10, with musical group Klezmenschen performing that night. The film is a documentary biography of the creator of Tevye the Dairyman in “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“The public will learn about the Yiddish, Jewish culture with ‘Sholem,’ ” Fischer said. “I can’t say there’s a Yiddish culture left in America, but seeing this movie, you get a tremendous appreciation of what that culture was.”
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today was completed in 1948 but never shown outside Germany until now
Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent
A long-suppressed American documentary about the Nuremberg war crimes trials has been shown for the first time in the UK.
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today was completed by the US Department of War in 1948, but never released due to shifting cold war sensitivities. The 78-minute film records the courtroom scenes where 22 of the most senior surviving Nazi officials were put on trial for their role in the destruction of peace in Europe.
Captured Nazi newsreels - recording the working of the gas chambers in the concentration camps, massacres of civilians and ill-treatment of prisoners - were shown during the trial, and feature as prosecution material in the documentary.
The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, who introduced the first British showing at Westminster, said the trial had been "a defining moment in international justice, establishing principles still in use today". Grieve's father, who had served in the British army and trained as a lawyer, prosecuted later war crime trials in north Germany. He also prepared some of the briefs for prosecutions of those who ran Belsen concentration camp.Two of his predecessors as attorney general, Sir Hartley Shawcross and Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, participated in the proceedings at Nuremberg, which began in late 1945.
Hermann Goering, who along with eleven other Nazis were condemned to hang, managed to commit suicide a few hours before his execution. Three Nazi officials were acquitted.
The film was eventually shown only to German audiences as part of the postwar de-Nazification process. It was never screened for American or British filmgoers. By the late 1940s, the cold war had begun and it was thought the footage would stir up dislike of Germans, at a time when West Germany was becoming a valued anti-Soviet partner. The then US Army Secretary, Kenneth Royall, vetoed its domestic release.
The documentary was finally restored by Sandra Schulberg, whose father filmed the scenes and wrote the script while a US marine sergeant. "When my mother died we found boxes and boxes of documents about the making of the of the film," she said at the Westminster premiere. "I made very few changes to the narration.
"By 1949 the Soviets were blockading Berlin. The [US authorities] were afraid that if we we showed this film it would remind everyone how much they hated them. There were also some in the US military who didn't approve of the decision to try the German military officers. Messages were sent on behalf of Admiral Doenitz, who only got 10 years.
"Royall was one of US military people said to be opposed to the trial. Robert Jackson, the chief US prosecutor, was upset about it. He wasn't allowed to show the film. The Soviets, however, had made their own film, which was shown in New York to the Bar Association in 1947 a full year before the US version was ready."
Stephen Rapp, the current US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, said that at the time there had been concern that the trial would be seen abroad as partisan 'victor's justice'. Some US senators even denounced the Nuremberg trials.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has appeared who has appeared as UN appeal judge on war crimes issues, said: "Even the Nazis couldn't face watching the concentration camp [footage]. They had really bad lawyers at Nuremberg and there was a disgraceful decision, made by the British bar, that no British barrister should be permitted to go over and represent them."
The whole Nuremberg trial lasted ten and a half months - a far shorter time than judges in recent international war crimes trials have taken to deliberate on their verdicts.
POSTED BY JIM RIDLEY
Sandra Schulberg — the daughter of the director who assembled one of the past century's most important film documents — will be at The Belcourt 7 p.m. Saturday to present the restoration she supervised of her father's film. The title is Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, and few films have more right to Woodrow Wilson's perhaps apocryphal description of The Birth of a Nation as "history written with lightning."
Schulberg's father, Stuart Schulberg, was part of a special OSS unit that John Ford commanded during World War II, dispatched to seek out footage the Third Reich had shot throughout World War II. (So was his brother and Sandra's uncle, Budd Schulberg, author of the quintessential Hollywood novel What Makes Sammy Run? and the classic screenplays for On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd.) This footage would be used, famously, as evidence during the Nuremberg trials — essentially hanging the Nazis with their own celluloid.
Stuart Schulberg was asked to film the Nuremberg proceedings and shape the footage into a documentary. As the film's website explains:
The film shows how the international prosecutors built their case against the top Nazi war criminals using the Nazis’ own films and records. The trial established the “Nuremberg Principles,” laying the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against the peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Its original release was suppressed by the US government. A Washington Post story headlined “Army Reluctant To Clarify Inaction On Nuernberg Film” (September 19, 1949), interpreted the Pentagon’s opposition as follows: “…there are those in authority in the United States who feel that Americans are so simple that they can hate only one enemy at a time. Forget the Nazis, they advise, and concentrate on the Reds.” Concern about whether the film might turn Americans against the rebuilding of Germany, a policy that was integral to the Marshall Plan, seems to have been played a role as well.
The movie plays through Tuesday, but Sandra Schulberg will only be here for Saturday night's show — and it should be worth rearranging your plans.
At the end of World War II, coming up on 66 years ago, Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, charged with a variety of war crimes. The U. S. government commissioned Stuart Schulberg, a screenwriter and brother of Budd Schulberg, to shoot a documentary film of the trial, called, simply, ":Nuremberg." A few years later, director Stanley Kramer did a feature called "Judgment at Nuremberg" with an all-star cast.
It's still a very good movie, but now the original is being re-released, put together by Josh Waletsky and Stuart Schulberg's daughter, Susan. It opens today, with Liev Schrieber offering newly written narration.
Robert Jackson, an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, served as the chief prosecutor, and in the dock were such as Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer, all prominent members of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. With newsreel footage from then 1930s to back the rather dry courtroom action, this is a fascinating and gripping film, a perfect view of the banality of evil, spiced with particularly scary examples of man's inhumanity to man.
Very much worth seeing, and thinking about.
Posted by Tom Stockman
A compact, conclusive primer on the criminality and rise of the Nazi party, NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY, is actually a recovered documentary from 1948 written and directed by the late Stuart Schulberg (brother of Budd, the writer of ON THE WATERFRONT) that, though U.S.-sponsored, was never released in this country. Thought lost for many years, Schulberg’s daughter Sandra Schulberg and her fellow documentarian Josh Waletzky have now restored the film using a decent print that they discovered with the help of the German Bundesarchiv (Germany’s National Archive, headquartered in Berlin). Enlisting the vocal talents of actor Liev Schreiber, the narration has been re-recorded, this time in English and the result is an interesting documentary that combines footage of the trial of Hitler’s commanders who survived the war – Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher, etc. with a concise flashback history of the rise and fall of the Nazi Party. The result is a film that never sheds new light on the subject but I’m sure was quite eye-opening when it was made just three years after World War Two ended.
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of International military tribunals hosted in a World Court at the Palace of Justice in the city of Nuremberg Germany in 1946 . They were held by the conquering Allied forces of World War II, and were most famous for the prosecution of the leaders of the defeated Nazi Party. NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY covers a lot in 80 minutes, starting in 1945 with the opening statements of Justice Robert H. Jackson, was one of four lead Allied prosecutors in the Nuremberg trial. These defendants were accused of “Crimes against Peace of the World” and were considered living symbols of arrogance and cruelty. The film shows archival footage to illustrate exactly what the Nazis did, in chronological order, without much exploration of why they did it. The history lesson begins with the burning of the Reichstag building, the assembly location of the German Parliament in 1933, which was the Nazi’s pretext for seizing power which they continued to do for the next decade through fraud, deceit, intimidation, and coercion. Under the Third Reich, Germany soon left the League of Nations, enacted compulsive military service, and its factories began churning out the tools of war. They eventually annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia by making their leaders offers they couldn’t refuse, making it easier to conquer Poland and set off the global conflict that would become the Second World War.
Nothing’s new in NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY, especially to WWII buffs, but it’s an informative and well-illustrated overview and the footage, especially the Holocaust atrocity stuff that dominates the second half, still packs a dramatic punch. It’s skillful in its editing, smartly jumping to the trial footage at the right moments to keep things in context. The defendants are shown smoking and some are holding their heads in their hands while the blasphemies they are accused of are read aloud including crimes involving the use of slave labor and “The Final Solution”. NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY was suppressed by our government not because Americans were too squeamish about the death camp footage but because by the time it was completed in 1948, we were enemies with the Soviets, while the film shows us still as allies. At a time when politicians were nurturing a fear of Communism, the film became a political hot potato, thus a victim of the Cold War. NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY would make a good background-providing companion piece to JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG, a 1961 drama starring Burt Lancaster and Spencer Tracy that was a dramatization of the later trial of some judges who used their offices to conduct Nazi sterilization and cleansing policies. While not as moving and or as affecting as some of the many Holocaust docs, NUREMBERG: ITS LESSON FOR TODAY still drives home the horror and the justice that transpired over six decades ago, half a world away, and is recommended.
4 of 5 Stars
Reviewer: Carol Hemphill
Completed in 1948, “Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today” was the U.S. government’s film about the most important trial of the 20th Century. Written and directed by Marine Corps Sergeant Stuart Schulberg, the picture shows how prosecutors built their case against Nazi war criminals using the Nazi’s own films and records as evidence.
The movie was distributed in Germany in 1948 and 1949 as part of a denazification campaign. Its release in America and in other countries was canceled for political concerns.
Over the years, the original negative and soundtrack were lost. Restorers Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky created a new negative from the best copy available. They then re-recorded the verbatim narration and re-recorded the musical score.
The film is hard to watch. Graphic and unrelenting, it chronicles Nazism from Hitler’s 1925 “Mein Kampf” to the 1938 seizures of Austria and Czechoslovakia.
It follows the Nazis into Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Yugoslavia.
It depicts the Nazi’s extermination of a variety of people including Russian POWs. And the film shows how six million men, women and children of the Jewish faith were wiped off the face of the earth.
There is nothing contemporary about “Nuremberg.” Its construction is far more consistent with mid-century newsreels than any feature film. The narration is delivered without a point of view.
That leaves the devastating facts to speak for themselves. And speak they do – loudly, with tremendous purpose. And the film’s subtitle, “Its Lessons for Today,” is as relevant today as it was 64 years ago.
It's been said that history is written by the winners, yet the most damning history of World War II was derived from evidence compiled by the vanquished Nazis. Within months of the surrender, the victorious Allies convened a series of military tribunals in Nuremberg, where high-ranking German prisoners were confronted by their own documents about Nazis war crimes.
The Nuremberg trials became the basis for a much-honored Hollywood drama, but American audiences have waited more than 60 years to see footage of the real thing. A documentary crew filmed the trial of Hitler's two-dozen closest associates, and the resulting movie was used to pacify German audiences in 1948, but the horrifying film never played in American theaters.
Now Sandra Schulberg, the daughter of the original director, has restored the movie, which mixes a dry outline of the Nazis' rise with visceral footage of their atrocities. "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" may be the most powerful lesson in cause and effect that cinema has produced.
The black-and-white film follows the trajectory of the trial, as the American prosecutor methodically presents evidence against the defendants on four charges.
These war crimes were largely untested concepts, but the ambiguity of the charges is offset by the specificity of the evidence, most of which is translated by narrator Liev Schreiber. The Nazis' internal documents and graphic film footage expose the lies behind the well-known sequence of events, from the takeover of adjoining countries to systematic annihilation of non-Aryans, particularly Jews.
Because the movie was made by U.S. propagandists in the immediate aftermath of the war, it doesn't mention the mixed reaction to the trials, let alone the Allies' own transgressions. Yet the freeing of the few innocent defendants and the sorrow of the condemned ones is evidence that the moral argument was won.
Three and a half stars (out of four)
Written by Sarah Boslaugh
Director Stuart Schulberg skillfully combines trial materials with other footage from the war to illustrate the extent of the crimes of which the defendants were accused.
We’re so familiar these days with the concept of international tribunals and prosecutions for war crimes that it’s worth remembering neither concept existed in any meaningful fashion until the middle of the last century. The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-1946 were the first major international attempt to hold the leaders of a defeated nation responsible for their actions. In the first trial, known as the International Military Tribunal, 24 high-ranking Nazis, including Martin Bormann, Hermann Göring, and Julius Streicher, were tried on charges including conspiracy for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The Nuremberg Trials were real trials with judges and prosecuting and defense attorneys; some of the accused were acquitted or sentenced to imprisonment, while others received the death penalty. Independent of the importance of the individual cases on trial, the Nuremberg Trials were influential in the development of international criminal law, and their influence can be seen in documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations in 1948) and the treaties of the Geneva Convention.
The Nuremberg Trials were recorded on audiotape and partially captured on film, as well, and those materials form much of the raw material used in Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, a documentary funded by the U.S. government and shown in Germany in 1948-1949. Director Stuart Schulberg, a veteran of John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Branch, skillfully combines trial materials with other footage from the war, including book-burning bonfires and many shots of emaciated concentration camp prisoners (both alive and dead), to illustrate the extent of the crimes of which the defendants were accused.
There’s nothing artistic about Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, which displays none of the creative genius of contemporary documentarians such as Humphrey Jennings or Leni Riefenstahl; instead, the film seems to take pride in being a blunt expression of outrage against the almost unimaginable evil perpetrated by the Nazi regime. The film’s power comes from the enormity of the crimes portrayed, and it’s always worth preserving documents such as this, lest we forget just how evil people can be.
Originally, there were plans to release Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today in the United States but that never happened, so this restored version is the first chance most Americans will have to see it. The released version was created from a “lavender print” (a fine-grain positive print) held in the German Bundesarchiv, and the restoration was overseen by Sandra Schulberg (daughter of Stuart Schulberg) and Josh Waletzky. It looks and sounds passably well for an old film, with the state of individual sections ranging from excellent to quite deteriorated.
As a historical document, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today reflects the period and purpose for which it was created, and it was certainly an important film in its time. From a remove of over 50 years, however, it’s hard not to wish for more. As a piece of propaganda, the film makes no mention of ethical issues which don’t fit its simple and straightforward narrative. The most obvious issue is the one-sided nature of the trials. Joseph Stalin, a U.S. ally, could just as well have been on the block as any of the Nazis, and many believe those involved with dropping the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki should have stood trial for crimes against humanity, as well. The key point in both cases is the suspicion that the individuals in question were protected because of the side they fought for. These are serious criticisms, because the Nuremberg Trials claimed to appeal to universal principles of ethics, rather than serving as retribution against the defeated.
Other issues that deserve consideration include why the film was suppressed in the United States and Russia, and broader criticisms of the Nuremberg Trials themselves. The result is that Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today may serve as a fascinating starting point for ethical and historical discussions of the conduct of war, but as a freestanding film it’s a bit disappointing.
Can we venture out of the most murderous century with 262 million dead without some solid advice?
Fortunately for us, between 1945 and 1948, a young 23 year old US Marine thought of us and our future. His film “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today,” until now unseen on US movie screens, constitutes a vital time-capsule.
Through the trial of that century, looking straight at both the atrocities and the blindness of WWII, Schulberg warns us that it is only without our blinders that we will move forward. Then and only then we will be able to enter into the community of nations like the International Criminal Court, something the US, Israel, China and Russia refuse to do.
This monument of a film has recently played in Iran (!) and in Argentina and Guatemala – pending further funding many other language versions are planned.
By Cate Marquis, Special to the Jewish Light
In 1948, the United States government produced a documentary about the Nuremberg war crimes trials to be shown to the German people as part of the de-Nazification effort. But the film, which movingly details the international effort to bring Nazi war criminals to justice, was released in this country.
Now, a new restoration of this astounding landmark documentary, a beautiful black-and-white film with polished Hollywood production values, is finally having a theatrical release in the U.S.
"Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" contains the only footage of the trial itself, as well as details on how the prosecutors built their case against the Nazis. Skillful editing used excerpts from Nazi films, footage of their atrocities and victims or filmed glimpses of bombed-out cities to movingly underscore the prosecutors' testimony of Nazi war crimes.
Film producer Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky restored the 1948 film, now narrated by Liev Schreiber.
Schulberg, who is also the daughter of the documentary's filmmaker Stuart Schulberg, will be in town for the opening. She will introduce it at the evening screenings and conduct question-and-answer sessions afterward.
Stuart Schulberg wrote and directed the film, commissioned by Pare Lorentz, head of Film, Theatre & Music at the U.S. War Department's Civil Affairs Division. The writer/director had been part of Hollywood director John Ford's Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Field Photographic Branch/War Crimes Unit. That unit helped gather Nazi film evidence to be shown in the courtroom at Nuremberg.
The film's subtitle, which was used for the original film, still applies today. This powerful documentary allows us to see the trial that established the principles of international criminal justice still used today. The film offers a fascinating glimpse back at a pivotal historical moment but also is compelling look at the world coming together to establish a tradition of rule of law against war criminals rather than summary executions of Nazi leaders.
Sandra Schulberg's uncle, the acclaimed novelist Budd Schulberg, also worked on John Ford's war film team and had helped assemble some of that Nazi footage but was not a direct part of this documentary.
Not a single frame of the original film was lost in the restoration. Although the original negative was in poor condition and missing its soundtrack, Schulberg and Waletzky were able to find a good print, which was used to create a new negative. They used the print's soundtrack as a guide for the restoration, only adding a few first names for clarity for modern audiences in Schreiber's narration.
Schulberg has been to St. Louis before, when she interviewed Nuremberg prosecutor Whitney Harris. A well-respected philanthropist and attorney who donated to both Washington University and University of Missouri-St. Louis for a number of fields, Harris passed away in 2010. His name remains on the Whitney Harris World Ecology Center, a collaboration of UMSL, the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden.
My rating: B
You can’t really call it entertainment.
Instead, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” is best viewed as a vital historical document.
Produced shortly after the end of World War II by the U.S. government and shown exclusively to German audiences, the documentary attempted nothing less than a concise summation of Nazi crimes against humanity.
Simultaneously, it provided a look at Western-style justice as embodied in the Nuremberg tribunal where the Third Reich’s military and civilian leaders were tried for their war crimes.
Never intended for domestic audiences, the film was never publicly screened in this country. And almost immediately after its release in Germany it was withdrawn from circulation under mysterious circumstances.
One theory is that the U.S. government was concerned that the film would provoke our Soviet allies. Josef Stalin, after all, was engaging in his own war crimes against civilian populations.
Another theory takes just the opposite tack…that with growing Cold War tensions the film’s praise for U.S.-Soviet cooperation in prosecuting the Nazis was beginning to look like a political liability.
And a third take on the situation suggests that the victorious Allies realized they couldn’t get too high and mighty on the Germans when they were guilty of at least some of the behavior they condemned in the Nazis.
The film opening this week in Kansas City was recently restored by Sandra Schulberg, daughter of original writer/director Stuart Schulberg (she’ll be on hand this weekend at the Glenwood Arts Theatre…see item below). The German narration has been re-recorded in English by actor Liev Schreiber.
What emerges is a hugely effective one-stop history lesson that uses the Reich’s own propaganda films to lay out the madness that led to this worldwide conflagration. The intention was to show angry and demoralized Germans that their unhappy circumstances were not the fault of the Allies but of their own power-crazed leaders.
By spending much time on the Nuremberg trials — among the defendants were Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer — the film also highlighted the idea of international cooperation (prosecutors were U.S., Soviet, French and British) and pushed the concept of judicial impartiality. After all, this wasn’t just a kangaroo court: two of the accused Germans were acquitted and released.
Most compelling to modern viewers is the footage of the Nazi’s efforts to exterminate Europe’s Jews. This material — much of it shot by Allied units liberating the death camps, some from the Nazis’ own archives — is wrenching stuff. “Deeply disturbing” doesn’t begin to cover its devastating impact.
Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 10, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum are presenting “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” at the Glenwood Arts Theatre, 9575 Metcalf Ave. The movie is scheduled to run at the Glenwood Arts through Nov. 17. Filmmaker Sandra Schulberg, who restored the original film (which was never seen in the United States) along with Josh Waletzky, will be on hand to answer questions after each showing on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and Nov. 12. Show times are 12:35 p.m., 3 p.m., 5:25 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. each day. Call the box office at 913-642-4404 for more information.
BY DAN LYBARGER
A special screening for “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” will be at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at the Glenwood Arts, 9575 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park. The 1948 documentary includes footage that was presented at the first Nuremberg trial in 1945-46 as well as images from the trial itself.
Until recently, the film had not played in the United States, until the late producer Stuart Schulberg’s daughter Sandra Schulberg restored it. She will be on hand to discuss the film at the preview screening and also at all screenings that weekend at the Glenwood.
By COURTNEY FOGO
Alma College hosted a unique and historic event Tuesday evening; bringing the recently restored film, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” (The Schulbert/Walettzky Restoration) and its producer Sandra Schulberg, to the campus.
The film was released in Germany in 1948, but had been suppressed by the United States War Department during the late 40s and 50s and, as a result, was never released in American movie theaters until now.
Schulberg rediscovered its importance and decided that it was too historically important not to restore and share with the public.
“The film was a victim of the Cold War,” Schulberg said.
Many people in the U.S. in the late 1940s thought the film was too dangerous and explicit to show the public. Even though the War Department hired Stuart Schulberg, of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Field Photographic Branch/War Crimes Unit, to make a documentary about the trials, they were also the ones to put an end to the possibility of public viewing.
By the time the film was finished in 1948 the U.S. was trying to rebuild Germany and with the harsh contents of the film some people thought that there would be limited support from the public.
The original film was entitled “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” by Schulberg’s father Stuart Schulberg in 1948. It captured the Nuremberg trials on film from inside the courtroom where 21 Nazi leaders were being tried on four counts for various war crimes.
Each of the defendants’ voices could be heard as they gave their testimonies; something new for the public to encounter.
The four counts of indictment were: the conspiracy to commit crimes against aggression (starting a war), crimes against peace (breaking treaties), war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Chief American prosecutor of the trials Robert H. Jackson, appointed by President Truman, was the one who decided to use motion pictures as a form of legal evidence in the court of law. With proof of Nazi documents and film showing their terrible deeds it would be easier to convict them in court.
Stuart Schulberg and his brother Budd were sent into Germany to find any Nazi documents or film to use as evidence. They were able to find enough material to make two films, “The Nazi Plan” and “Nazi Concentration Camps.” Parts of these two films can be seen within the final film product about the Nuremberg Trials that Schulberg created.
“The trial was a milestone in history,” said Sandra Schulberg. “It was the first time people were prosecuted for crimes against humanity. The trials laid the groundwork for subsequent attempts to prosecute crimes.”
There were 12 more trials held in the Nuremberg courtroom in which Nazi judges, medical doctors that performed terrible experiments on people, and Schutzstaffel (SS) officers.
Later, even the three acquitted at the original trial were tried again in court.
Today the principles of Nuremberg are relevant with the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which the United States has chosen not to be a part.
“The field is still evolving, and there are lots of problems to solve,” said Schulberg when discussing the endless possibilities for students interested in this line of work, such as law and criminal justice students.
As for the film, Nuremberg, which premiered at the New York Film Festival last fall, “it is already bigger than I expected,” said Schulberg. “It’s reaching the general public for the first time; exactly what I dreamed could happen with it when I began working on it six years ago.”
Schulberg and Josh Waletzky remastered the film with borrowed copies of Schulberg’s fathers’ original 35mm prints from the German National Archives.
It took four and a half years to raise the money for the film, but as a movie producer Schulberg was able to make the film happen in good time.
The recovery of important documents and films that belonged to her father made the restoration more significant and the experience more memorable for all involved.
Schulberg will continue to travel around the world showing her film and teaching the public of the importance of the Nuremberg trials and how significant their principles are in today’s world.
Dr. Ed Lorenz, a political science and history professor at Alma College, is the chapter advisor of the International Criminal Court Student Network (ICCSN), and helped put the Nuremberg event together.
Lorenz encourages students to join the organization and learn about how to solve human rights problems.
Alma College’s ICCSN has worked together with the Public Affairs Institute and they will be a host at the 500th Anniversary Conference on Universality in Human Rights that will take place Dec. 2-4 in Washington D.C.
The conference’s main focus will be “assessing current institutional and legal approaches to move forward in protection of human right,” according to the events’ website.
The film will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Park Library Auditorium on the Central Michigan University campus.
Film and filmmaker's daughter in Richmond Hill Sunday
After more than 60 years in the dark, a documentary of the trial for Nazi crimes against humanity has been brought to light by the original filmmaker’s daughter and will be brought to Richmond Hill next weekend.
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, revived by film producer Sandra Schulberg, will be screened at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts Nov. 6, as part of Holocaust Education Week.
The film is a restored version of the original 1948 release, filmed and scripted by her father and uncle, during the 1945-46 Nuremberg crimes against humanity trials of more than 20 Nazi officers.
The documentary contains courtroom footage and audio from defendants and prosecutors, spliced with archival footage compilations, used as trial evidence and known as The Nazi Plan and Nazi Concentration Camps.
This evidential footage was dug up for the trial, at the time, by Ms Schulberg’s father, Stuart, and her uncle, Budd. Both were assigned to a special military Office of Strategic Services search team, dispatched to Europe.
The film was released in Germany in 1948, but according to Ms Schulberg, the American release was supressed. Speculation at the time was that the supression was due to fear of renewed anger toward Germany and the growing threat of the Soviet Union.
The film stayed hidden for close to 60 years, until after the death of Ms Schulberg’s mother in 2003.
Sorting through her mom’s apartment, Ms Schulberg discovered her father’s notes and documents regarding the Nuremberg documentary. Her interest was piqued.
Despite the fact it was the creation of her own father and she, herself, worked in the filmmaking industry, Ms Schulberg had never seen her family’s documentation of the ground-breaking criminal trial.
Digging deeper into Nuremberg, Ms Schulberg wanted to restore the film and its underlying lesson so it could be seen and heard by all.
“This movie is a powerful, anti-war statement and I hope people take that away with them,” said Ms Schulberg by telephone, while en route to Texas for a weekend screening.
“As chief U.S. prosecutor, Robert Jackson says in the movie, ‘the greatest crime against humanity, is war itself’,” she added.
Ms Schulberg and a team of others restored the original German version of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today with new narration from actor Liev Schreiber, enhanced courtroom audio from lawyers and Nazi defendants, along with the original documentary score also re-recorded and re-mastered.
Considering the suppression of the film and the fact that Nuremberg was the first-ever trial for crimes against humanity, the historical significance of the event compelled Ms Schulberg to spend five years of her life, raising funds and essentially restoring the film for release in 2009.
Since then, Ms Schulberg has regularly travelled with the film, speaking to audiences and hosting question and answer sessions.
From Guatemala to Argentina, Toronto to Tehran, Ms Schulberg has shown her film and shared its footage with many.
Next month, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, will be featured at the University of Tehran, Iran.
“To hear the German officers try to explain their actions is remarkable,” offered Ms Schulberg.
“I learned an awful lot about World War II from restoring this film and it’s important to share that with as many as possible,” she added.
Ms Schulberg will participate in discussions at the 7:30 p.m. screening. The evening is presented by the town in partnership with Beit Rayim Synagogue and School.
By MICHAEL GRANBERRY
Sandra Schulberg learned from the best. Her uncle, Budd Schulberg, wrote the novel What Makes Sammy Run? and won an Oscar for his screenplay of On the Waterfront.
Her father was elite documentarian Stuart Schulberg, who in 1948 completed a riveting chronicle of the Nuremberg war trial, a film financed by the U.S. Department of War. Shockingly, it was never shown in American theaters.
Enter Sandra Schulberg, who has, with loving care and rare diligence, fully restored her father’s film, which opens Friday at the Angelika Plano. For her, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today launched a journey of challenge and surprise.
“There are so many things about the trial that people don’t know,” says Schulberg, who will be in Plano for screenings Friday and Saturday. “The more I travel with the film, the more I realize that this is, for some people, forgotten history. But most people never knew it in the first place, because it was never released in this country.”
Of course, the 1961 Hollywood movie Judgment at Nuremberg offered its own depiction of the horror of Nazi crimes. Part of Schulberg’s journey was discovering the suppression of her father’s film, which she calls “a victim of the Cold War.”
By the time the film was finished in 1948, the United States had a new enemy — its World War IIally, the Soviet Union , which also prosecuted the Nazis at Nuremberg. “At a time when men in and out of Congress were fomenting a fear of communism,” she says, “the film became a political hot potato.”
Schulberg’s restoration is a chilling reminder of Adolf Hitler’s lies and how easily the world was duped. It’s also a celebration of the heady idealism of such American heroes as Robert H. Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg. Jackson and his colleagues believed, Schulberg contends, that the Nuremberg trial “might bring an end not only to war crimes and to genocide but even to war itself.”
Schulberg faced her own battlefront to restore the film. An American print, kept in cold storage, revealed images that were too degraded. She finally found a print in the German National Archive “in excellent condition.” She worked from that and kept each image intact. She faced additional vexations with sound and music, conquering each one.
“People don’t realize how fundamental Nuremberg really was, what a breakthrough it was,” she says. Sir Hartley Shawcross, the lead British prosecutor, called Nuremberg “a milestone in the history of civilization. Whatever its flaws and there were many, they were up against unbelievable challenges, but nonetheless, what they did at Nuremberg resonates today.”
Official Government Chronicle Had Been Essentially Shelved For 60 Years
By SUSAN DUNNE
Sandra Schulberg spent most of her career producing fictional dramas set in far-flung places — Australia, Italy, England, China, Papua New Guinea — but she found the greatest mission of her life in her late mother's apartment.
"She died in 2002. We eventually faced emptying her apartment," Schulberg said in a phone interview from her home in New York. "We discovered boxes and boxes of documents my father had saved about the making of the film."
As much a historical document as a film, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" is absolutely no fun to watch.
Then again, it shouldn't be.
This documentary, originally made by director Stuart Schulberg, who co-wrote it with his brother Budd ("On the Waterfront"), follows the trial of accused Nazi war criminals in 1945-46.
It begins with a woman carrying a baby emerging from a hole surrounded by rubble and ruins. A survey of the destruction and horrors caused by the Nazi regime follows, intercut with footage taken at the Nuremberg trial, where prosecutors from four nations — the U.S., U.S.S.R., France and Great Britain — lay out the case against 24 Nazi commanders.
That case, to say the least, is overwhelming. As the prosecutors take turns questioning Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and others, black-and-white footage is shown — much of it shot by the Nazis themselves — of the rise of the National Socialist party, Hitler and his cohorts, the death camps and their victims and emaciated survivors.
There are bags of gold collected from the imprisoned Jews, including gold fillings pulled from the mouths of corpses. Women carry skin-and-bone bodies and hurl them into a mass grave. Jews are pulled from their homes and beaten in the streets.
Eventually the judges deliver the verdicts: Three of the accused are exonerated, most are sentenced to either life imprisonment or to be hanged until dead.
Although the film was commissioned by the United States, and shown widely in Germany in the late '40s as part of a de-Nazification program, for foggy reasons it was never shown in the U.S. The current restored version, narrated by Liev Schreiber in perfect period voice, is produced by Sandra Schulberg, the niece of Budd Schulberg. (Sandra Schulberg will introduce the film and answer questions afterward.)
At 78 minutes, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" is hardly a complete story. Stuart Schulberg was only allowed to shoot 25 hours of courtroom footage from a trial that lasted more than 10 months.
But the images here are undeniably powerful and disturbing, and the footage of the Nazi kingpins is startling in that it shows these monsters to be men, nothing more. That such evil could lurk behind these bland exteriors is both hard to contemplate and impossible to forget.
By Tim Younkman
Silence with occasional gasps crept across the audience inside the State Theatre Tuesday night as black-and-white images of terror and the monsters responsible played on the big screen.
It was no Hollywood horror flick but the 1947 documentary “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” it was just as gruesome in parts depicting the Holocaust and wartime atrocities. It was shown to a packed house of more than 350 people, some of them World War II veterans, as part of a national tour.
One of those veterans viewing the film actually was shown on the screen several times. Andrew Wendland, 85, was in that courtroom 65 years ago. He was an 18-year-old white-helmeted guard, standing close to the Nazi defendants as they testified.
Moments before the show began, Wendland was introduced to a young man who also was connected not only to the people in the film, but to Wendland personally.
Doug Danitz of West Branch is the great-grandson of Grand Admiral Karl Donitz, one of the prisoners Wendland was guarding and remembers a number of conversations with him in the prison.
Another member of the audience who was introduced prior to the showing was Tommy Anderson, son of the late Teddie C. Anderson Sr., of Bay City, who also was a white-helmeted guard of the top Nazis during the trial.
The movie, originally commissioned by the War Department, was made to be shown in Germany to prove to the people that the horrendous acts committed by orders of their leaders actually occurred. It shows evidence submitted in the courtroom during the trial and the Nazi leaders admitting to much of it in their own words.
A copy was placed in the National Archives in 1971 where it remained until researchers found it seven years ago, said Sandra Schulberg, who restored the film and is taking it around the country. She is the daughter of Stuart Schulberg, the film’s original director.
“It is wonderful to see so many people here and this is a beautiful theater,” Schulberg said as she introduced the film.
Organizers who helped bring the film to Bay City say donations and ticket sales should be more than enough to pay for showing the film and theater costs and any money left over will go to the Bay County Veterans Council to help veterans needing assistance. Donations still are being accepted.
Danitz, whose family name changed from Donitz because of harassment and embarrassment, was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y., and lived in New Jersey before moving to West Branch about four years ago.
He spoke briefly to the audience describing some of the problems he’s faced having such a notorious relative. He said there are groups who target extended families of World War II Nazis, watching them and reporting on them. He said he has encountered some in the past.
“It is a source of shame,” he said of being related to Admiral Donitz. “I don’t share my feelings often about this.”
“There are some who believe Donitz — head of the German Navy from 1943 to the end of the war — should not have been included as a war criminal,” Schulberg said, noting American Admiral Chester Nimitz sent a letter to that effect supporting Donitz to the tribunal judges hearing the case.
Those in the audience shifted uncomfortably in their seats as they viewed Nazi-made newsreel footage depicting the prisoners in camps and some being gassed during mass killings. Those images were shown during the trial which led to convictions against 21 of the 24 defendants.
Watching the movie with his daughter, retired Bay County Circuit Judge William J. Caprathe, said he visited the Nuremberg courthouse last week during a European judicial tour.
“It was very interesting being in that courtroom, sitting in the room where all this took place,” he said. “The amazing thing about it is that courtroom still is in use today, although much of the building serves as a museum.”
He also visited The Hague during the tour where Serbian defendants are on trial for war crimes.
“Much of what goes on in these trials now began or was based on the Nuremberg trial,” Caprathe said. “This movie was excellent, I thought.”
From a judicial point of view, each segment of the process would have been difficult. Being a judge on the tribunal, a defense attorney or the prosecutor was a tough job. The defense would have had a very daunting task.
“The defense attorney would have had a very difficult time with the evidence, but you have to remember the defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
Historical accounts show 12 of the defendants in the Nuremberg trial were sentenced to death by hanging, although only 10 actually saw the noose. Field Marshal Hermann Goering, whom Wendland guarded in the courtroom, cheated the hangman by taking cyanide poison the night before his execution. Hitler’s top assistant, Martin Bormann, tried in absentia, also was sentenced to hang.
Donitz was acquitted of one charge and was convicted of two others and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Original 1948 version directed by Stuart Schulberg; 2009 version directed by Sandra Schulberg. Not rated. Playing at the Detroit Film Theatre, 8/6-7.
Originally released in 1948 (though never screened in U.S. theatres) and subsequently re-released in 2009, Nuremberg is a documentary that captures the 1945 International Military Tribunal judging of Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity. Stuart Schulberg's cameras were there to capture the trial as it occurred, later coupling this material with horrendous footage of the unspeakable acts of cruelty, the truly unimaginable horror, of Nazi behavior during WWII to create Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today — a title in no way dated by the passage of over 60 years.
It's nigh impossible to really rate the so-called "quality" of a film like this. Partially due to the fact that it's hard to know whether to contextualize it within the timeframe of its 1940s release or this modern re-release with new narration from Liev Schreiber (the original English language narration track having been lost over the years), and partially due to the fact that to critique a real-life trial of Nazi war criminals is a rather ridiculous endeavor. But I can say that it is occasionally almost impossible to watch in its stark and unflinching honesty. So consider the four stars emblazoned next to this film's title no more (and no less) than a means by which to draw your attention to the presence of this film, its important message, its historical significance and its screenings this weekend (Saturday, 8/6, at 4 p.m. and Sunday, 8/7, at 2 p.m.) at the Detroit Film Theatre in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Sandra Schulberg — the producer/director of this restored version — will be on hand to introduce the film and also to engage viewers in a Q & A session at its close.
Restored World War II Film Called 'One of Greatest Courtroom Dramas'
By: Dave Rogers
Local veterans and veterans' groups will benefit from the showing of a documentary film here Aug. 2 at the State Theatre.
Some of the veterans who will view the film actually experienced events at the Nuremberg Trials in Germany in 1945.
"Nuremberg: It's Lesson for Today," will be introduced in Bay City by restoration producer Sandra Schulberg, daughter of Hollywood filmmaker the late Stuart Schulberg, who produced the film.
Moviegoers will get a chance to ask questions of Ms. Schulberg after the airing of the 78 minute documentary.
Donations are being accepted from the community and business sponsors to purchase $5 tickets to be distributed to needy veterans. Any excess funds after expenses will be distributed to the Bay County Veterans Council.
The movie is a 35mm restoration of a film originally created by Sandra Schulberg's father, Stuart Schulberg. One of the greatest courtroom dramas in history, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" shows how the international prosecutors built their case against the top Nazi war criminals using the Nazis own films and records.
"Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" depicts the most famous courtroom drama in modern times, and the first to make extensive use of film as evidence. It was also the first trial to be extensively documented, aurally and visually. All of the proceedings, which lasted for nearly 11 months, were recorded.
And though the trial was filmed while it was happening, strict limits were placed on the Army Signal Corps cameramen by the Office of Criminal Counsel. In the end, they were permitted to film only about 25 hours over the entire course of the trial. This was to prove a great impediment for writer/director Stuart Schulberg, and his editor Joseph Zigman, when they were engaged to make the official film about the trial, in 1946, shortly after its conclusion.
"Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" follows the structure of the trial, using the four counts of the indictment as its organizing principle. While much of the film is set in the courtroom, Nuremberg reconstructs the prosecution's case and rebuts the defendants' assertions by relying on the Nazis' own films. Nuremberg therefore cuts back and forth to these films.
The trial established the "Nuremberg Principles," laying the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
This is the official U.S. government film about the trial, made for the War Department & U.S. Military Government by Stuart Schulberg, a veteran of noted producer John Ford's OSS War Crimes film team.
The New York Times calls "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," "HAUNTING AND VIVID. What this documentary shows is how a vital and indispensable principle of humanity was restored." The film is not rated but contains some disturbing images of the Holocaust, and has a run-time of 78 minutes. Its official website, www.nurembergfilm.org, contains background information on the making of the film, photos, reviews and more.
By Tim Younkman
The courtroom is quiet as a corpulent figure on the witness stand — one of the highest-ranking German Nazis — proudly defends his actions during World War II.
Standing next to him is a steely American guard, Bay City soldier Andrew Wendland.
It’s just one of the scenes included in a newly restored 1947 documentary titled “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” which is being shown for the first time to North American audiences during a two-year tour of cities.
It comes to downtown Bay City for a showing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the historic State Theatre, 913 Washington Ave.
The film affords a glimpse into the minds of the individuals who tortured citizens, conducted medical experimentation on prisoners and operated death camps as a form of advancing the Nazi racial purification agenda.
Wendland, 85, the grandson of Bay City department store owner H.G. Wendland, was a 19-year-old corporal attached to the 1st Infantry Division and chosen as one of the white-helmeted guards in charge of security during the Nuremberg War Crime Trials.
Each of the American soldiers was assigned to one of the 24 Nazi defendants facing a military tribunal on charges that included war crimes and crimes against humanity, said Wendland, a retired insurance adjuster who now lives with his wife, Barbara, in Frankenlust Township.
Another of the Nuremberg guards, the late James Anderson, also was from Bay City.
“We originally were brought in as cell guards for a few months,” Wendland said. “Then we were assigned, promoted you could say, to the courtroom. We were the honor guard and wore those white helmets. It was a pretty good deal.”
The trial, which began in November 1945 and ended in October 1946, was filmed in its entirety and condensed into a documentary by the American government for the German public. It showed Germans their former leaders describing, in their own words, actions such as the Holocaust and numerous war crimes.
Wendland, who was drafted when he graduated from St. James High School in 1944, was sent into combat with the 3rd Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge and its aftermath.
“I was in combat for four or five months before the war ended,” he said. “I was then transferred to the 1st Division and sent to Nuremberg.”
He guarded Field Marshal Hermann Goering, the World War I flying ace who later became deputy fuhrer under Adolph Hitler and was complicit in the top-level decisions that led to the war crimes, according to the charges he was convicted on.
“Mostly all of those prisoners spoke English,” Wendland said. “Some could speak pretty well. I got along with (Admiral Karl) Donitz. I told him my grandfather was German and that he was born in Bremen. We talked about that.”
Wendland said Donitz, an admiral in charge of the German Navy, wasn’t accused of as much as some of the other defendants. Donitz was convicted of two charges, including war crimes, but was sentenced to only 10 years in prison, while many of the other prisoners were given the death sentence.
Local historian and author, David L. Rogers, and his wife, Dolores, serve on the committee that worked to bring the documentary to Bay City so area veterans could see it.
“We are raising funds to bring the movie here and pay for the tickets for veterans so they can see the documentary,” Rogers said. “Once we’ve raised enough to pay for the film costs, we will turn over any surplus funds to the Bay County Veterans Council emergency fund for homeless and needy vets.”
Donations should be mailed to the State Theatre. All donors will be admitted to see the film and will receive program recognition.
Individual tickets cost $5 each.
Any veterans wearing their organization hats or who come in uniform will be admitted free, Rogers said.
Wendland said he plans to attend Tuesday’s showing.
Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the film’s director, Stuart Schulberg, also has agreed to attend. She and Josh Waletzky restored the film to its original look but with better sound production..
“We are hoping to fill the 600 seats at the State Theatre,” Rogers noted, adding, “capacity crowds have seen the film in Toronto, Boston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle and elsewhere.”
This week, the film is part of the annual Traverse City Film Festival.
Rogers emphasized that the documentary is an important look into the war from a perspective of a courtroom and cited comments from Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the American prosecutor at the war crimes proceedings: “Let the Nuremberg documentary film stand as a reminder of the fragility of freedom we all must help preserve.”
“This is big for Bay City because it is a rare look at part of history,” Rogers said.
“We have worked to get this film here for years and now it is happening. We want people to see it.”
By Scott Marks
The Nuremberg Trials were the first to be extensively documented and the first to make major use of film as evidence. The entire proceedings were recorded, but the Office of Criminal Counsel allowed only twenty-five hours of the eleven month trial to be filmed.
The job of assembling the footage was assigned to Stuart Schulberg and Joe Zigman. The duo worked for Pare Lorentz and the Field Photographic Branch of the War Department headed up by John Ford. No one ever expected that the English-language version would never be released to theaters in the United States.
Producer Sandra Schulberg recognized the importance of her father’s work and the potential impact this historical document could have on contemporary audiences. Schulberg and her partner Josh Waletzky have produced one of the finest and most painstaking restorations ever attempted. In light of the recent political assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the messages contained inNuremberg: Its Lesson for Today - The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration are as vital today as they were in 1948.
Opening in theatres this Friday from original writer and director Stuart Schulberg, Schulberg Productions and Metropolic Productions comes an intense reexamination of a time in history with “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today”.
This film tells the story of the trials of Nuremberg in 1945 with the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union bringing cases against Nazi leaders. These leaders are charged with crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, war crimes and genocide.
Pare Lorentz, head of the Film/Theatre/Music in Civil Affairs Division of the U.S. War Department, had won control rights to available footage. He called up Stuart Schulberg and editor Joe Zigman to begin a documentary about the trails. There was an audio recording of events.
In 1948, a 78-minute film was created. In this film is the power of Nazi propaganda and the savagery committed upon people in German. Leaders such as Hermann Goering and his unspeakable acts were now available for the world to see – and experience.
From the Schulbergs’ OSS FIELD PHOTOGRAPHIC BRANCH/ WAR CRIME TEAMS, THE NAZI PLAN to NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS the world would come to know what really happened and who was responsible.
FINAL WORD: This is an amazing piece of work and with the narration by Leiv Schreiber done it is understood the challenges facing the group. From creating a new negative, reconstructing the sound track to recreating the original score it is all possible by the belief of one person – Sandra Schulberg.
I had the honor of speaking with Sandra about the film, how it came to be and her belief in it coming together.
Hello Sandra, thank you for joining me today. I watched your film and after reading the information on your website I watched it again with another perspective. I think the thing about your film is that some of the images I’ve seen before but to see something I haven’t seen before it stands out.
Your probably much more experiences and a lot of audiences coming to the theatres, because its been shown in regular movie theatres and are not experts. Most people have a pretty good sense of World War II. But I find that many people are learning all over again about the war. Of course the younger generation there are a few paragraphs in their textbooks.
That was one of my questions; do you think the content of the film being used as a teaching tool?
I absolutely see it as a tool, or as an opportunity for people who go into the movie theatre to learn more about World War II and the trials. Not to mention not just the story of the trial but also the education of it. Once I put the DVD edition together it will be a pretty elaborate production. I’m going to include the evidentiary film and I want to preserve it. There will be two discs, one will be a history film with different language options and the second disc is going to include the two films my father’s unit created “The Nazi Plan” and “The Nazi Concentration Camp” with extensive interviews that I’ve shot in the last two years who had some part in the trial. That edition is also going to be structured with chapter headings so it can be used in classrooms and universities and people can comment on different topics dealing with either the trial and present it in film form. That will definitely be coming and is a teaching tool and resource. What people get out of this movie shown in theatres I think is that they get a real good insight into how the trial was conducted. I hope that it really inspires Americans to realize that the Americans and of course the other prosecutors created a milestone in the history of civilization. Just be conducting such a sophisticated legal proceedings! They laid the groundwork for criminal justice. So I’m hoping to inspire Americans to take an interest in the trials being held around the world with the International Criminal Court.
What inspired you to get involved in restoring the film?
There were two key triggers for me. One was that my Mom died in 2002 and at the end of 2003 my brothers and I finally got to going through her things. We found boxes and boxes of documents in the making of Nuremberg. We didn’t know my father and mother kept them. I have three other brothers and my brothers left them for me to study. I believe that I didn’t really start to try to go through them until the winter of 2004 because at that point I was very busy getting this big Marshall Plan finished for the Berlin Film Festival. The other trigger was that my friend that runs the Berlin Film Festival decided that it was important to start the series of the Marshall Plan with Nuremberg, which really surprised me. I thought Nuremberg was looking back and the Marshall Plan was moving forward. She felt very strongly about this that it was important for the German audiences that were coming to see the Marshall Plan that a leap had been made by the allied when they agreed to include German as an official partner in the Marshall Plan. She pretty much insisted we start out with Nuremberg. She got a hold of a print and it was the first recollection of having seen the film. That was February 2004. When I came back and started going through the documents I was just fascinated by the story revealed in these documents. The first American scholars who looked at these papers was the director of the Spielberg archives. She was the first to tell me of the repression of the film in the United States. I made a point of looking of the rough English language version – the soundtrack was very strange because it didn’t allow you to hear any of the English speakers. It was an overlay. When I went through all the documents and saw there was 11 versions of the script from English translated to German, he had a recording made in English of that narration for the higher ups in the war department in Washington so they could judge the film, if you will. When the government decided they weren’t going to release it in the United States they left the film. Once I figured all that out and learned the film had never been released in a U.S. movie theatre, I conceived of doing it. It was a tough decision for me to make in a way because I was also really hesitant to bring it back because I didn’t want people to use it as another reason for people to blame the Nazis. But I thought it should be because it was a historical document and it had implications for today! I wanted them to learn what the Nuremberg legacy is and happy to say my fears of that have been belayed by the positive response from the press and public seeing it as a historical document. It is being used to have incredible discussions in the theatres and in the press and its implications today.
I was reading about your challenges, I’m sure when your thinking about how great it would be to put this together and the three challenges (score and soundtrack), I bet you thought “that sounds simple enough”.
I was actually very nervous about that just technically what we would have to do. The music was the hardest thing. I was very nervous about whether we could introduce live sound to the courtroom into the film and whether that would work technically. Because the actually words might not fit into the picture. We did a test first and used the 7-minute speech and seeing how it would work in the film and used Jackson’s speech and found out it worked. Then Josh and I went on and we decided that we would write about this and would work technically. We went ahead with that. I was very nervous about whether is could be done. I went to Josh Walinsky very early in the process; quite soon after I conceived of this idea and thought I’d have the energy and courage. I went to Josh because I felt that you needed a brilliant sound editor to do this and someone who had a feeling for the material. Josh seemed to me the best candidate and I was very, very grateful that he committed early on. Then it took me another four years to raise the money. Then he was in the middle of his own documentary and he stopped everything in order to make Nuremberg. It was an amazing gesture on his part and brought so much to it, not just technical skills.
One thing I did notice is that you actually had Liev Schreiber doing the narration but using the original RCA microphone piece, it was really hard to tell that it was him because normally he has such a distinctive voice. You can hear the microphone having that feel and it was amazing.
I think that second microphone and that was John Bowen’s idea, he brought in that vintage mic into play and used both actually. He used very modern microphones and the RCA mic. The modern one was a German microphone. He had both mics side by side and it created a richer tone. It made a difference and that was part of the sound mix. He’s also very at home with the various foreign names and Liev has a way with him. It was just a relief to work with him in terms of the pronunciation, a lot of those names are not easy to pronounce.
How did you get Liev to join the project?
I’m close James Shamus who has worked with me on a couple of projects. He sent an introductory letter to Liev and we put it together. I think that the letter of introduction helped to get his attention. We are very grateful to James.
On the website I saw you have a book coming out called “The Celluloid Noose”?
There are parts that are written and some are outlined. I had to put it aside but as some point it was either finish the book or finish the restoration. I couldn’t do both at once. I was really concerned about restoring the film before some of the key people had died. I decided that it was more important and what I had to finish first. The book is to be completed as soon as possible.
What is the premise of the book?
The Celluloid Noose is a multi card story; it’s about the hunt for the making of Nuremberg and its suppression. The epilogue will be the legacy of the trial and the film. It is true that this story has never been told. My father never wrote about it and saved the documents thank god and in addition he wrote about 300 pages of letters home in the six-month period for the trial. But he never told the story. Having his recollections I’ll be able to piece the story together, the story for the hunt and the preparation of the film and the impact of the trial. It’s an amazing story in its own right. I think its fascinating and never been told, it should be a good book. Once the DVD is done I’m planning to then concentrate on the book and get it done.
What else would you like viewers to know going into seeing the film?
There are several key things that I think are very important to know. The first is that the film was completed in 1948 and that not a frame of film was changed. The film existed, complete, we only made another negative of the film. We didn’t change a single frame.
Also, the narration is not made up either, Liev re recorded the original narration, and not a word was changed there either. Finally, you’ll see a lot of references to Lorentz as the director of the film, Schulberg wrote and directed the film. Lorentz was the person who hired Schulberg and fought very hard to get the film produced according to his vision and Justice Jackson’s vision and Schulberg’s script. Three scripts were submitted and only the Schulberg script is an accurate portrayal of how the trial was conducted. He was critical in the film being made and being made the way it was. My father went on to fight for the release of the film in 1949.
Thank you Sandra!
What is most fascinating about this film is that through complete sound and picture restoration from the original 35mm film, viewers are in a time capsule to 1945. The audience is now a willing participant in the International Military Tribunal and its search for justice for those silenced.
Each individual takes the journey frame by frame to see the important of remembrance, to never again allow the destruction of humanity or the destruction of our own souls. Everyone involved in the process of putting this film together has done more than taken up the call. They have offered up the truth, good and bad, so that there is no question – ever – that crimes against humanity are tolerated.
The Schulberg family, through their father’s documents as well, have shared history, and an experience I personally will never forget. It is an imperative to see “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today”.
Of all the World War II documentaries, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” is the first. It’s also the official one about the first Nuremberg trial, and has been withheld from U.S. distribution until now.
When the war was over and the top Nazi brass charged with crimes against humanity, prosecutors wanted to make their case using the Nazis’ own records.
Stuart Schulberg (with U.S. government funding) was assigned the task of sifting through the records in Berlin and assembling the film.
“The war was over, but there was no peace,” the narration begins as we see scenes of utter devastation. “Despair crouched over the continent.”
Schulberg lays out the Nazi plan of conquest matter-of-factly, using written records and describing the methodical progression of lies, threats, and invasions used on the way to world domination.
Some of the images here will be familiar. Others may not – skeletal prisoners in hospital beds being used for “medical” experimentation; an improvised gas chamber using automobile exhaust; Jews being marched naked through the streets.
It’s chilling to see these 22 Nazis with headphones, all staring straight ahead or down, never looking at each other, occasionally called upon to testify. Some deny all, others seem repentant, a few claim they were as duped as the German people who allowed this to happen.
This film was assembled by Schulberg’s daughter Sandra from the only available copy – the German one (the film was widely shown in Germany in 1948-49 as part of the de-Nazification program). The soundtrack had to be reconstructed from scratch, using the soundtrack on the print as a guide. Liev Schreiber recorded the original narration.
There seems to be only speculation about why this film was suppressed in the U.S., but political expediency may be a reasonable guess. The U.S. government may not have wanted to highlight German crimes when the Marshall Plan (which would rebuild much of Germany) was about to take effect. Or perhaps the plan was to focus public attention on the threat of Soviet communism (the U.S.S.R. was quickly becoming our enemy by 1948).
Chief U.S. prosecutor and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson made the now-famous opening and closing statements. In closing, he said, “Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war.”
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” is horrifying but required viewing.
The full title for the restored reissue is Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (the Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration). That sounds dry, pedantic, archival. And yet,Nuremberg, made from 1945 to ’47 but never widely seen, brings to us the most important of international tribunals. This is the official film of the postwar trial of the Nazi leaders, men who had — not far away — paraded in pomp at the infamous Nuremberg rallies (one of which became art, of a kind, in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will).
Bereft of their dead Führer and Dr. Goebbels, the accused included suave “visionary” Albert Speer, air-marshal and art-pillager Hermann Goering (who looks guiltlessly bored by the crushing evidence of infamy), and odious Hans Frank, the chief tormentor of Poland (his mousey apology is a jaw-dropper). Most of the accused would be hung. Others (like Speer) got long prison terms, but how do you really punish people who so gladly constructed hell?
The film’s hero is the main American prosecutor, stern and eloquent Justice Robert H. Jackson. Its added value, beyond the trial scenes, is a powerful torrent of images about the Nazi rise, their serial crimes, their systematic “logic” of sadism. Designed to answer the staggering questions, “What happened, and why?” the movie does a searingly credible job, though the Holocaust is short-served (the full impact of that tragedy would take time to seep in, and films are still struggling with it).
Made by producer Pare Lorentz’s team, notably Sgt. Stuart Schulberg (brother of the famous Budd), the movie was shown in Germany but never released in America. This restoration of a German archival print was produced by Sandra Schulberg, Stuart’s daughter, and Josh Waletzky. As narrated by Liev Schreiber, this piercing testament has none of the stark humor found in writer Malcolm Muggeridge’s diary for March 19, 1946:
“Goering said under cross-examination at Nuremberg that he was sorry about the burning down of the Reichstag because he had to requisition the Kroll Opera House as alternative accommodation, and he regarded opera as in every respect a superior enterprise to the Reichstag.”
Screening in U.S. theaters for the first time since its 1948 completion, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" is a harrowing and no-frills documentary, restored by Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the filmmaker.
When Marine Corps Sergeant Stuart Schulberg was assigned to make the film as a member of John Ford's OSS War Crimes film team, he and his crew produced an up-close and detailed documentary on the trials of top Nazi war criminals.
Though the film was released in Germany and elsewhere, it was never released in the U.S. As original negatives and sound had been lost or destroyed, Sandra Schulberg and filmmaking partner Josh Waletzky created a new 35mm negative from a surviving print in Germany, and reconstructed the soundtrack.
With actor Liev Schreiber re-creating the original narration, the film is presented as audiences abroad saw it in 1948, two years following its completion. Beginning from the prosecution's famous opening remarks, and continuing through evidence and eye-witness testimony, including testimony from the many accused, the film becomes an instant piece of vital history, even if more than 60 years old.
Filled with on-the-spot insight and up-close details, this restoration is both riveting film and valuable learning tool. The film opens Friday for one week only at the Ken Cinema in San Diego. Sandra Schulberg appears both Friday and Saturday evenings to discuss the film and restoration.
The War Crime trials at Nuremberg set the precedent, introduced a radical principle into international law. It defined the notion of a War Crime, holding individuals (political, military and industrial leaders) responsible for murder and "Crimes against Humanity" in the context or waging an aggressive war.
Commissioned by the U.S. War Department, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today was written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg, a veteran of the John Ford’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Field Photographic Branch/War Crimes Unit, charged, in 1945, with locating Nazi film evidence to be shown in the courtroom at Nuremberg.
Stuart’s older brother, Budd (another senior officer in the unit) was a member of the team of writers and editors who assembled the original materials used in the documentaries "Concentration Camp " and "The Nazi Plan", used as prime evidence against the 24 Nazi War Criminals.
Ford’s OSS unit was also asked to film the Trial, but they were so busy assembling footage to show at the Trial, that they had to decline.
After the trials, during the denazification period, Shulberg was again commissioned to make a documentary using the Nazi footage. Schulberg, Pare Lorentz (“The Plough That Broke the Plains”, “The River’) and editor Joseph Zigman, were limited, as the Army Signal Corps cameramen and still photographers, who filmed the Trial, shot only 25 hours of a trial which lasted 10½ months.
Conceived as a lesson for future generations, the longer film contained footage of the trial as well as the evidentiary films they originally compiled.
It is the ultimate courtroom drama, more riveting than any fiction or recreation could ever be. Raw and harrowing, even though we already know the facts displayed. What’s more, it's a paean to the scrupulous detailed nature of the trials themselves, an example of the highest democratic ideals at work. The defendants were accorded the very human rights denied their victims. Those who had rode roughshod over the moral norms of humanity were allowed to defend themselves. The fascination is what they chose to admit, deny or justify, and how. Their excuses are astonishing as they blame their conveniently dead leaders Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler.
We see small children and elderly, with numbers on their arms, as a voice over explains that those who cannot work will be exterminated. The piles of bodies we've seen many times before. But in this context they awaken our deepest dread as we listen to he questioning of the prosecutors of the four victorious powers in 1945 and the final decision of the judges: "Death by hanging." (Some were acquitted, others imprisoned in this first, filmed, round of trials.)
The filmmakers imagined the film would be shown world wide as the definitive anti-war lesson. Instead, the film was only shown in Germany. It was supposed to premier in the US in 1949. It was the beginning of the Cold War, rife with anti-Red sentiments and propaganda. The US didn't want to remind people that the Soviets, their Cold War enemies, were (in the definitive Orwellian twist) their World War II allies. Watching the closing statements of the Soviet prosecutor Lieutenant-General Roman Andreyevich Rudenko seemed inflammatory. "During the blockade of Berlin in late 1948, the film was deemed 'politically incorrect' because it showed that the Soviets were allies during the war and the trial." Additionally, in order for the Marshall Plan of reconstruction to be effective, we wanted to cast the Germans as good trading partners.
Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson, who had taken leave from the Supreme Court in 1945-46 to head the American prosecution team at Nuremberg, had protected the film script from the meddling of U.S. military officials, was outraged and campaigned to reverse a decision by the government to show the film to the New York City Bar Association. He wanted the Trial, the first of its kind, to stand as a lesson for all time.
At the time, Walter Winchell called the War Office complicet with the Nazis because they refused to show American audiences the film. The Washington Post launched an investigation. Shulberg’s researchers discovered the troubling fact that a certain faction of the American Military (including Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall) was against the notion of the Trial itself, outraged that German Officers were being tried with civilians before a mix of military and international civilian judges.
As Sandra Schulberg explained "In early 2011, my colleague, Nuremberg scholar & law professor John Barrett, forwarded to me a letter he had found, dated November 19, 1948, addressed to Justice Robert Jackson, signed by then Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall. Royall informs Jackson that due to policy changes, “Nuremberg” is not in the interest of the government or the Nation, and will not be released to the general public. Sixty years later the reconstructed film premiered (in its the first public screening in North America) at the 2010 Jewish Film Festival in Toronto.
Sandra was raised in France and Germany and a renowned producer of independent films. Her first job was as line producer for Robert M. Young's "Alambrista". She worked on John Hanson and Rob Nilsson's "Northern Lights", Philip Kaufman's "Quills" and many notable indies.
In 2003, approached by Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin Film Festival, Schulberg compiled a retrospective of Marshall Plan films for the festival. It was her first adult experience watching her father's film. Thus began a large-scale effort to preserve and exhibit the films of the Marshall Plan, With the support of the Academy Film Archive (AFA), Shulberg's 25-film retrospective, "Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan, 1948-1953", that has been touring U.S. and European cities since 2004. She is currently in production on a Marshall Plan film DVD collection, which will include interviews with surviving Marshall Plan filmmakers, and a companion book.
50 years later Sandra and her brothers were cleaning the New York apartment of their mother who had just died. When Shulberg arrived for one of her stints, she found a group of boxes set aside by her brother Peter. He had discovered reels of film and numerous documents regarding the Making of Nuremberg and the controversy that followed. Sandra Schulberg began to inventory the documents and invited two Holocaust scholars to examine them: Ronny Loewy (of the Deutsches Filminstitut) and Raye Farr (Director, Steven Spielberg Film & Video Archive, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). It became clear they were extremely important and previously unknown. She began a five-year effort to assemble a team and raise the necessary funds to restore the film.
Ironically, Sandra, who had spent her life telling stories on the screen, had found the most important story she would probably ever have to tell.
Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky created a new 35mm negative and re-constructed the soundtrack using original sound from the trial (with digitally restored audio elements.) The new 35mm film negative was created under the supervision of Russ Suniewick at Colorlab, Rockville, MD (specialists in archival restoration and preservation.) The negative was sent to DuArt Film & Video in New York, where new 35mm release prints were struck under the supervision of DuArt Chairman Irwin Young, and associate Steve Blakely. Schulberg, who began her career as Robert Young’s AD, had the sad honor of having her film become the last film print struck by the Al Young's famed DuArt lab, which ceased film processing in 2010.
Restoring the sound track and original score was a daunting and surprising journey. Stuart Schulberg described the soundtrack of the original film-"It became necessary to secure the wax recordings of the proceedings stored in Nuremberg, to re-record the pertinent words on film and then to synchronize that sound recording with the lip movements of the respective defendants...Many weeks after the original request, the records arrived from Nuremberg. The discs were re-recorded on film in half of one day, and about a month later the meticulous job of ‘dubbing’ the original voices of the defendants was completed.” In the restoration Josh Waletzky had an even harder job, since most of the voices were obscured by the English language narration.
Ronny Loewy, one of the Nuremberg film experts in Germany, volunteered to search for the original music tracks. He discovered the surprising news. The composer was Hans-Otto Borgmann, who, in 1933, composed the music for a Nazi propaganda film "Hitlerjunge Quex". One of his songs from the film "Unsere Fahne flattert uns voran" became the official anthem of the Hitler Youth.
Schulberg and Waletzky were stunned. How could he have been cleared to work on Nuremberg? Bundesarchiv researcher Babette Heusterberg reported that Borgmann had been a member of Nationalsozialistische Betriebszellenorganisation (NSBO), the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur (KfdK), and the Reichsfilmkammer, but there was no evidence of his membership in the Nazi Party (NSDAP).
Records showed that In 1946 Borgmann was interviewed by the Office of Military Government, Information Control Branch, in Berlin on October 20, 1946, and barred from all cultural activities. In 1947, citing a possible job offer from Eric Pommer, chief of the OMGUS Motion Picture Branch, he reapplied. By then, the U.S. Army had no objection to his employment in the U.S. Sector, and reclassified him. He had his Persilschein (whitewash.)
The music tracks were lost, but Schulberg found Borgmann’s handwritten, fully-orchestrated, musical cues for the Nuremberg film in her father’s files. With this as guide, composer John Califra synthesized the music obscured by the original narration. He worked closely with Waletzky, a composer himself, to precisely match the reconstructed music to the rest of Borgmann’s score.
Liv Schreiber re-recorded the original narrative.
We hear Justice Robert H. Jackson’s famous opening and closing statements to the Tribunal, and the testimony of 22 high -ranking Nazi defendants (including Göring, Hess, and Speer) and their defense attorneys – all in their own voices – as well as bits from the English, Russian and French prosecutors.
"The first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world...civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated." declaims Jackson.
A montage of images establishes the Nazi Party’s rise to power, tracing the "open, notorious conspiracy" to Hitler's manifesto "Mein Kampf"
and the "Führer Principle." Quicky, Schulberg surveys the
book burnings and the end of the democratic principles in the Weimar Republic, the re-armaments program as the Krupp plants retool under Herman Göring), compulsory military service, loyalty oaths, Lebensraum (living room) and Hitler's successive invasions of peaceful neighbors Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, each after offering assurances of peaceful coexistence.
Hitler’s military adjutant, Colonel Friedrich Hossbach revealed (in 1937) a secret meeting between Hitler, Commander-in-Chief of the Army Werner von Fritsch, Commander of the Navy Admiral Erich von Raeder, Minister of Aviation Hermann Göring, Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, and Minister of War Werner von Blomberg. Hitler unveils his plan to launch war.
"To improve our military and political position, we have no choice but to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously."
Stuart Shulberg learned well the lessons of montage editing from Eisenstein and Agit Prop photomontage satirist John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld). Images of Stalin, Pope Pius XII and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt are shown as Hitler exclaims "Now, Poland is where I want her. My only fear is that some Schweinhund (Pig dog) will propose mediation (Roosevelt and the Pope made appeals.) Destruction of Poland! It will give a propagandistic reason for the outbreak of war. It doesn't matter if it is plausible or not."
Next it's the Axis pact, as Hitler parcels out the world for Axis domination. Land invasion of Russia (again without declarations of war); air war on Britain. General Lahousen details a conference planning the atrocities waged against Poland as footage of crimes against prisoners of war in Poland, Italy, Czechoslovakia, France and Belgium are shown, as well as the total destruction of the Czech village Lidice. We watch Himmler’s destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto: the toothless Non aggression pact with Stalin.
Stuart Schulberg's clear, relatively restrained history (given what the barbarism he was reporting) details the Nazi genocidal assembly line of death.
Defendant Fritz Sauckel, Chief of Slave Labor, explained the policy on forced labor. "All these people must be fed housed and treated so as to get the greatest possible use out of them at the lowest possible cost." As defendant Martin Bormann (tried in absentia) was quoted,” The slav(e)s should work for us. When we no longer need them let them die. German and European dissidents and Jews died alike. Wilhelm Frick, the Minister of the Interior, managed the murder of aged, insane or incurable Germans, the "useless eaters." Hermann Göring advised plunder "This incessant worry about other people must stop once and for all."
The now familiar images of the Concentration Camps, the medical experiments, the deadly examination of transports to the camps, as doctors chose valuable slaves and sent the weak, elderly or children to the gas chambers.
Epic piles of corpses followed by images of loot transferred to vaults of the Reichsbank under the control of defendant Walther Funk (Minister of Economics) in charge of the aryanization of Jewish property.
Several men seem repentant, though our satisfaction in hearing that is slight in the face of the horror detailed before us.
The narration explains that the Nazi labor chief Robert Ley professed. "With our anti Semitism we violated a basic commandment of God's creation. It is hard to admit mistakes. The existence of our entire nation is at stake. We must have the courage to red ourselves of anti-semitism. God has taught me that in my cell at Nuremberg."
Hans Frank (Governor-general of Nazi-occupied Poland, called the "Jew butcher of Cracow" said before the court for "Years we have fought against Jewery, allowed ourselves to say terrible things. A thousand years may pass. The guilt of Germany will not have been erased."
The defense called 61 witnesses and 38,000 affidavits on the defendants as well as a storm of affidavits on behalf of the entire German Military and Intelligence infrastructure.
Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of Staff of the German High Command, admits he signed an order, which stated that, "Human life in the East is absolutely worthless." Unrepentant Göring denies he knew of the extermination of the Jews "I knew only of certain cases where excesses were committed." (Göring suicided the night before his execution.)
Soviet Chief Prosecutor Rodenko declares, "These crimes have been proved. They are irrefutable either by the defendants' testimony or by the arguments of the defense. The are irrefutable because it is impossible to refute the truth and truth is the durable result of this trial." The French Prosecutor François de Menthon declares, "Now is the time for you to hear, in the silence of your deliberations, the blood of the innocents crying for justice."
The original 1948 film was written and directed by Stuart Schulberg; edited by Joseph Zigman; music composed by Hans-Otto Borgmann; produced by Pare Lorentz and Stuart Schulberg. Restoration created by Sandra Schulberg & Josh Waletzky; original music reconstructed by John Califra.
The 1948 documentary, never before shown in the U.S., shines an important and fascinating light on the events at Nuremberg.
By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Never before seen on U.S. screens, the documentary "Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today" compels us as much because of its complicated and fascinating history as for what it has to show, which is a lot.
Written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg and meticulously brought back to life by his daughter Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky, "Nuremberg" was commissioned by the U.S. War Department to answer a very specific need.
Once the November 1945 to October 1946 Nuremberg trial of top Nazi leaders, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer, was concluded, the Allies wanted a film that would both show what had happened in the courtroom and demonstrate why such an unprecedented trial for, among other things, "crimes against humanity" had been necessary.
Shown extensively in Germany, where it was a key component of the Allies' de-Nazification campaign, "Nuremberg" was supposed to be shown in the U.S. as well, but a change in the political climate apparently doomed that. Though no hard proof exists, most experts theorize that by 1948, with the Cold War gearing up, the powers that be in Washington decided that showing a film that made the Soviet Union look good and cast a dark light on our newly minted ally West Germany was simply not politically expedient.
So "Nuremberg" disappeared, nearly literally. By the time Sandra Schulberg and Waletzky thought of bringing it back, the only print they could find was of the German version. And the soundtrack had to be reconstructed from scratch; for the restoration, Liev Schreiber effectively reads the 1948 narration.
That soundtrack is one of the film's strongest points, allowing us to hear the Nuremberg prosecutor, U.S. Supreme CourtJustice Robert H. Jackson, giving his legendary opening presentation. More than Jackson's attack on the Nazis for "acts that have bathed the world in blood and set civilization back a century," what is memorable is his eloquent defense of the need for a trial for these kinds of crimes.
"Civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored," Jackson thundered, "because civilization cannot tolerate their being repeated." The idea of using international law against these men as opposed to summary execution, he continued in a memorable phrase, was "one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason."
"Nuremberg" begins not with Jackson but with shots of war-ravaged cities and the idea that "hopelessness circled Europe like a bird of prey." Given that situation, the voice-over says, "the people wanted to know the answers, they wanted to know what happened and why."
First is a succinct history of the Nazis' rise to power in Germany through what the film describes as "fraud, deceit, intimidation and coercion." As it does throughout, and as the trial did as well, "Nuremberg" backs its assertions via copious use of the Nazis' own films and records.
As it goes on to catalog the crimes committed, "Nuremberg" makes extensive use of the kind of concentration camp atrocity footage that has become somewhat familiar today but was all but unknown to the public when this film was made.
Still, even for those who have seen a lot, there are things here that are especially disturbing. These include shots of the destroyed Czech village of Lidice, liquidated as a reprisal for the assassination of dreaded Nazi official Reinhard Heydrich, and rare footage of an improvised gas chamber that killed people with automobile exhaust.
"Nuremberg" also lets us listen in to some of the testimony of the accused, which ranges from denial to talk of "idealism betrayed" as well as the words of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, who insisted that Hitler "deceived the world, Germany and me."
Perhaps the most striking thing about this film seen today is the moral clarity and assurance of the victorious prosecutors, who set a standard for "crimes against humanity" trials that is still followed. These people must have felt that what the Nazis put the world through was so awful that World War IIcould not help but be the war that would put an end to wars.
As we know all too well, that was not to be.
Screening for the first time in the U.S. is the historically riveting 1948 documentary, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today.” “Nuremberg” chronicles the Nuremberg Trial of 1945-1946, where the top leaders of the Nazi party were tried. This court proceeding set the standard throughout the world for prosecuting war criminals and crimes against humanity.
Almost as important, and certainly as interesting, is the history surrounding the making of “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today.” To talk about the film and enlighten the audience about its historical significance as well as what was involved in its making, its suppression and its recent restoration is Sandra Schulberg, director of this newly restored documentary and daughter of original film director Stuart Schulberg. Schulberg will appear at the Nuart Theatre on Saturday and Sunday at the 5:15 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. shows. She’ll also appear at the 3:00 p.m. show on Sunday. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. screenings, Schulberg will also be on hand to answer questions.
On Monday, June 6, Michael Berenbaum, Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, at the American Jewish University joins Schulberg at the Nuart at the 5:15 and 7:30 p.m. screenings. Berenbaum is also the co-producer of the Oscar-winning film “One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissman Klein Story.”
Some interesting background information from Schulberg’s press notes concerns how Stuart Schulberg became involved in the production. In preparing for the Nuremberg Trial, U.S. Chief Prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson knew that he wanted to use the Nazis’ own documentary film footage as evidence against the Nazi defendants. Meticulous record keepers, the Nazis kept written and filmed evidence of their entire war operation, including footage from their concentration camps, medical experiments, executions, as well as military speeches, signed affidavits, etc.
Therefore, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) film team, under Hollywood director John Ford, sent Budd and Stuart Schulberg to assemble such a film by combing through the seized Nazi footage. In the press notes, Sandra Schulberg says that the Schulberg brothers at times were sabotaged in their attempts to locate footage. Once they even found caches of film burning; someone had been tipped off just before they arrived. In time for the trial, the group completed the four-hour film, “The Nazi Plan” which Jackson presented in court. Clips from the U.S. and British liberation of concentration camps, titled “Nazi Concentration Camps,” were also used as evidence at the trial (and in “Nuremberg”).
The importance of this filmed proof was far more damning than any witness’ testimony. In “Nuremberg” chief prosecutor Jackson states in his opening remarks about the defendants, “We will show you their own films, you will see their own conduct and hear their own voices.” Basically, with all of this filmed and photographic evidence, the defendants convicted themselves.
Having completed “The Nazi Plan,” Pare Lorentz, head of the Film/Theatre/Music in the Civil Affairs Division of the U.S. War Department asked Stuart Schulberg and his editor Joe Zigman to create a documentary from the filmed footage of the Nuremberg Trial, which became this important “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” documentary.
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” is extremely rich in historical detail both on the screen and behind the scenes. One hopes that Sandra Schulberg will somehow make an additional documentary just about the making of this “Nuremberg” restoration. But until then, you’ll have the chance to ask Schulberg your inquisitive questions this week at the Nuart Theatre.
BY RON GILBERT
Sixty three years ago Stuart Schulberg completed the film “Nuremberg Its Lesson for Today “ which he alone, wrote and directed. He was the producer with Pare Lorentz and the U.S. War Department on this film which was to document the landmark war-crimes trial of 22 top-ranking Nazis by an international military tribunal.
Navy Lt. Budd Schulberg was a senior officer in John Ford’s OSS Field Photographic Branch/War Crimes unit, and did play a role in locating & assembling the Nazi films and photos that were presented as evidence in the Nuremberg courtroom. The trial started on November 20, 1945 and ended on October 1, 1946. The assemblage of that footage in which Joseph Zigman, the editor made into a film for the world to see but was suppressed by the United States government and it was only shown in Germany and the Soviet Union.
We are privy to the trial and then we are shown footage on many of the crimes that were committed so we are seeing what the investigation found in order to present their case.
The film presents Hitler’s book Mein Kamp published in 1925 and his treachorous journey starts there with his pattern of fraud, deception and intimidation and the statement of “We are a peaceful people and do not want war”. Printed affidavids of this are presented to countries whom he attacks very soon afterwards. We hear the voices of the accussed and the statements of the prosecutors.
Nuremberg is a documentary, structured in four parts to reflect the four indictments and the Nuremberg trials were to establish justice rather than revenge as the norm in dealing with aggressor nations. The United States, set a historic standard for global justice and human rights, codifying the concept of the war crime and validating the notion of an international criminal court.
So let’s start at the beginning of the story behind Nuremberg:
It's Lesson for Today which originated when U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, appointed chief prosecutor for the IMT by President Truman, decided to round up the Nazis' own photographs and film footage to be introduced as evidence. The U.S. Army's Office of Strategic Services formed a special unit—commanded by director John Ford—to locate this material, and based on tips from informants (among them the legendary Leni Riefenstahl) collected a wealth of images before they could be destroyed. The unit created two films that were shown in court: The Nazi Plan, which ran four hours, and Nazi Concentration Camps, which compiled British and American footage of the camps being liberated.
Jackson also wanted the OSS unit to record the entire trial, which lasted ten and a half months, though ultimately that chore went to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which managed to shoot only about 25 hours of footage. After the trial was over, Pare Lorentz was assigned as the producer and along with Stuart Schulberg who was the writer /director and producer. Schulberg used available footage and he was able to draw on complete audio recordings of the trial, which he synced up with what imagery there was, and on the library of archival material that had been collected.
The first indictment, for conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, was the most complex but also the most critical: it allowed prosecutors to include Nazi acts of persecution against Jews and other minorities before the actual outbreak of war and, even more important, obviated the defendants' claim that they were just following orders (the so-called "Nuremberg defense"). As a legal concept, conspiracy was limited to the British and American traditions of jurisprudence, so Jackson took responsibility for making the case in court. Schulberg condenses his argument into a concise history of fascism in Germany: the publication of Mein Kampf, the rise of the Nazi Party, the burning of the Reichstag, the campaign for national rearmament, the introduction of compulsory military service, the conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Hitler's public pronouncements about his good intentions are contrasted again and again with his steady buildup of a war machine that could dominate the world.
The remaining indictments were divided among the other participating nations. The British prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross, presented the case that the defendants had waged wars of aggression in violation of international treaties (which leads Schulberg quite naturally to the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and the beginning of World War II). The French prosecutor, Francois de Menthon, enumerated the Nazis' epic war crimes, including their killing of civilian hostages, looting of art treasures, exploitation of slave labor, and conducting of medical experiments on prisoners. And the Soviet prosecutor, Roman Andreyevich Rudenko, exposed Germany's crimes against humanity, which encompassed not only the Holocaust but the mass murder of Slavs, Gypsies, and Soviet prisoners of war—all told, as many as 17 million people.
As the 22 defendants sit in their dock, listening to earphones, the prosecution lays it all out: the rise of Adolf Hitler; the diabolical plans for armed domination; the horrors committed against prisoners of war, civilians of occupied nations, disabled people, Jews. At each stage, for each count against them, unvarnished footage of war and atrocities unspools. We see - just as they did in Nuremberg - the clips of invasions, speeches, goose-stepping armies, hollow faces and mountainous pile-ups of emaciated corpses. After all of the decades, these images retain a terrible power.
For me the most surprising aspect of the trial may be that only 12 defendants went to the gallows; seven more served prison terms ranging from ten years to life, and three were acquitted.
In the end, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today may itself have become a casualty of international politics. For reasons that have never been made clear, the War Department chose not to distribute the movie in the U.S., and when Lorentz offered to buy the film and release it himself, he was turned down (he finally quit in frustration). John Norris, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote about the controversy in 1949 and speculated that the government was afraid images of Nazi atrocities would turn public opinion against the Marshall Plan's goal of rehabilitating Germany. If that's true, then the quashing of a documentary film seems like a small price to pay for the peace that's prevailed in Western Europe ever since. Like the Nuremberg trials, the Marshall Plan became an international symbol of America at its best, a fragile boat of civility making its way up a river of vengeance.
Sandra Schulberg has brought to us the film her father created on the Nuremberg trials and has made her father proud by restoring it so that all the world can see his film that was buried for over 6 decades. She & Josh Waletzky created the restoration and she also made sure that all the credits were accurate.
The negative was lost, along with many sound elements – so Schulberg's daughter Sandra mounted an effort to find it and restore it. The 35 mm print was found in Germany at the Berlin Bundesarchiv and shipped its 35mm “lavender” print By the end of September 2009, a new 35mm film negative had been created under the supervision of Russ Suniewick at Colorlab, in Rockville, MD., The negative was then sent to DuArt Film & Video in New York, where new 35mm release prints were made under the supervision of DuArt Chairman Irwin Young.
The search for the original music tracks seemed impossible to excerpt those sections of the score that were married to the narration. Ronny Loewy one of the Nuremberg film experts in Germany volunteered to search. Although hope of finding the music tracks of composer Hans-Otto Borgmann. were lost , but Schulberg found Borgmann’s handwritten, fully-orchestrated, musical cues for the Nuremberg film in her father’s files. With this as guide, composer John Califra synthesized the music obscured by the original narration. He worked closely with Waletzky, a composer himself, to precisely match the reconstructed music to the rest of Borgmann’s score.
She brought in actor Liev Schreiber to redo the narrative which was done accurately and only first names were added to the clarify those involved. Working with sound designer Joshua Waletzky, she pieced together a new negative and soundtrack incorporating original sound.
In early 2011, Nuremberg scholar & law professor John Barrett, forwarded to Sandra a letter he had found, dated November 19, 1948, addressed to Justice Robert Jackson. It is signed by then Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall. Royall informs Jackson that due to policy changes, NUREMBERG is not in the interest of the government or the Nation, and will not be released to the general public. As a result it was never theatrically released and is now on American movie screens for the first time in history – more than 60 years after it was made.
What is stuck in my mind after watching this very moving and informative documentary on the Nuremberg Trial are the words ”Crimes against Humanity”. These crimes are still being committed in the present day we all must face them and deal with them in the most appropriate manner. My question to all the powers out there in our country is “What Happened and Why”? President Obama should make it mandatory to be shown in schools and unversities so we will always be reminded of what happenend and what could happen when a dictator takes control over a country and their people suffer the consequences. It will take the German people many more generations and perhaps a 1000 years to recover from the atrocities of the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler but in helping in the restoration at this film have become our best allies.
Two emotionally absorbing, political documentaries also out this June are "The Last Mountain" and "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today." "The Last Mountain" documents the life-threatening hazards of mountain top coal mining in the Appalachians and follows a dedicated citizenry (including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) who try and stop it. "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," is the actual, restored documentary from 1948 covering the historic Nuremberg Trial of 1945-1946 and the International Tribunal who prosecuted the top Nazi leaders. Filming the trial itself, including the actual Nazi films that chronicled the Third Reich's atrocities, this documentary is an amazing piece of history, as horrifying now as it was then. Although shown in Germany in 1948, this film was never shown in the U.S., until now.
These fascinating documentaries are not to miss and will be available this summer at your local theater, through On Demand cable services or DVD. The Golden Age of Documentaries is here to enjoy. And unlike most multiplex popcorn films that always leave you hungry, these documentaries will stay with you and keep your mind working long after the closing credits.
By Pamela Kerpius
Maybe the greatest sign of confidence a criminal can have is documenting his or her own crimes. The Holocaust footage taken by the Nazis during their regime, as well as the period that foresaw their large-scale oppressive reign of power, takes this to a terrifying extreme. If you’ve been through basic schooling or have ever watched the History Channel, you’ve seen the horrifying images that have accumulated in our collective memory since the end of the Second World War: the shattered storefronts and bonfires, the human medical experimentation and starvation imposed on the European Jewish populace and the mountains of corpses.
As frequently as we see these images their power is never diminished. Yet, in the newly restored documentary Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, the faces of the perpetrators – clean shaven and neatly dressed – sit in two civilized rows in a courtroom, where their crimes unfold to us using unending reels of torture footage, film the Nazis themselves shot for their own posterity, that adds startling life to all of the still photographs that we’ve seen repeatedly.
For any Holocaust denier still left out there (and they do exist), the newsreels seen here flatly refute them. It’s always been difficult to understand how a case for Holocaust denial ever grew any legs, but it’s hard to argue with the willfully ignorant. And there it is in grainy black and white, every starved human frame, every corpse piled up like animal carcasses; the picture does not lie, Photoshop did not precede these crimes.
The Nuremberg Trials took place and were filmed from 1945 to 1946, but the release of Nurembergwas withheld in the United States for political reasons. Originally directed by Stuart Schulberg, the footage was found and restored by Schulberg’s daughter Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky at the beginning of the last decade. It has releasing in theaters for audiences to see this exposé of Nazi war crimes, including up-close views of its key players and propagandists (Hermann Göring and Martin Bormann, two of the most notorious), and is narrated by actor Liev Schreiber.
BY IRIS MANN
Once again, the summer season, noted for youth-oriented blockbusters, manages to include some serious fare aimed at more mature, discerning audiences, including several projects dealing with the World War II era and its aftermath.
The filmmakers of “The Debt,” a Nazi-hunter movie slated to open Aug. 31, could not have planned their release any better. The movie, which arrives on the heels of the American assassination of Osama bin Laden, concerns three Mossad agents who become iconic figures for having hunted down and killed a Nazi war criminal (Jesper Christensen). The plot cuts back and forth between the 1960s, when the capture and killing is reported to have occurred, and the late 1990s, when the three are confronted by unexpected and unsettling events. “The Debt” is double-cast, with one set of actors playing the Israeli agents during the earlier time period and another set portraying the three some 30 years later. The older version of the central character is played by Helen Mirren, the younger one by Jessica Chastain.
Director John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) said he was attracted to the material because he felt it had the potential to engage audiences on several levels.
“It has to do with people accounting for sins of the past, as it were — in particular, the pursuit of a Nazi war criminal, and the bringing of that person to justice. So the material is compelling to start with. It’s also an extraordinarily good thriller. It has a great narrative. But, above and beyond that, and this is what’s unusual about it, it has a psychological and emotional complexity, and, indeed, a moral complexity that is unusual to find in contemporary thrillers.”
Madden continued, “It’s about the relationship between present and past, not just in the whole idea of what does it means to bring somebody to justice some period of time after those events have been supposedly committed. … But, the film is also about moral responsibility.”
The moral and legal responsibility of the major Nazi perpetrators was ultimately determined in the precedent-setting war crimes trial at Nuremberg, which was documented in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg in his film “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today.” The doc consists of highlights from the trial, including the legendary opening and closing speeches by Justice Robert H. Jackson, and presentations by prosecutors from the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The prosecution bolstered its case using footage that Schulberg and his brother, Budd, had helped assemble from the Nazis’ own films and photographs, along with motion pictures taken as the Allies liberated some of the concentration camps, and the documentary interweaves that material with the trial segments.
Although shown in Germany after the war, “Nuremberg” was never released in the United States. Stuart Schulberg’s daughter, Sandra, along with Josh Waletzky, spent some five years restoring her father’s film so it could be shown in this country.
“If I were not a professional film producer,” Sandra Schulberg said, “it might never have occurred to me to restore the film and try to get it released in the U.S. But, faced with the facts — the fascinating mystery of what had happened to ‘Nuremberg’ after its German release — this seemed to be my schicksal, my fate. ‘If not I, then who?’ I thought. ‘If not now, when?’ ”
Schulberg also wanted to find out exactly why her late father’s film had been suppressed in this country.
“In the fall of 1949, nearly a year after the German release of the film,” she said, “John Norris, a reporter for The Washington Post, began an investigation. His first story, dated Sept. 19, was headlined: ‘Army Reluctant To Clarify Inaction On Nuremberg Film.’ ”
As part of his article, Norris wrote: “It is known that strong forces in the Army opposed the entire war crimes program from the beginning — or at least after it was decided to try German army chiefs and general staff members. Army Secretary Kenneth Royall and Undersecretary Draper were said to be in this camp and clearly were in favor of rebuilding Germany as a bulwark against communism. Too quickly and with too little regard for a resurgence of Nazism, some said.”
Schulberg explained that Norris’ charges were substantiated by a letter from Secretary Kenneth Royall, addressed to Justice Jackson.
“To my surprise,” she said, “the letter is dated November 1948, almost a year before The Washington Post got on top of the story. Royall writes to Jackson: ‘In this country no general release is under consideration. It is my opinion that the theme is contrary to present policies and aims of the government; therefore it is felt that the picture at this time can be of no significant value to the Army and Nation as a whole.’ ”
Now, more than 60 years after it was made, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today [The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration]” is being seen by American audiences for the first time.
The documentary has a one-week exclusive engagement, June 3-9, at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre, and Sandra Schulberg will appear on June 3 at the 5:15, 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. screenings; and on June 4 and 5 at the 12:45, 3, 5:15, 7:30 and 9:45 screenings.
By Ella Taylor
Delivering the news in the late 1940s that Universal Pictures would not release Stuart Schulberg's documentary about the 1945-46 Nuremberg trials of 22 senior Nazi officers, the company's public relations flack explained to the film's producers that "The subject matter and the way it is treated is altogether too gruesome to stomach."
But now that we are up to our necks in Holocaust iconography, are we unshockable? Does the release of a remastered Nuremberg, 60-plus years after the trial, add to the uncomfortable sense that we all may be perpetuating genocide porn? Certainly it adds to our growing desensitization, though it's clear that was not the intention of Schulberg's daughter, Sandra, and Josh Waletzky, who supervised a painstaking restoration for the film's first theatrical release in North American theaters. With sober narration by Liev Schreiber, Nuremberg is clearly a labor of love and posthumous restitution to the Schulberg brothers (Stuart's famous sibling, Budd, was involved in the filmmaking as well).
The new film's most notable achievement is a refreshed soundtrack that allows us to actually hear the defendants' translated testimony, a tawdry ragbag of defiance, denial, rationalization, Hitler blame and mutual betrayal. Also newly audible are American prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson's stirring addresses: "Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war," he said. If there's a takeaway for audiences today, it's a sad one of lessons ignored or flouted after half a century of global mass murder. (Nuart)
By Carla Meyer
Published: Friday, May. 13, 2011
"Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," commissioned by the U.S. government to document the landmark 1945-46 Nazi war-crimes trials, finally is reaching American theaters more than 60 years after its completion.
Directed by Stuart Schulberg, who served in the Office of Strategic Services film unit commanded by director John Ford, "Nuremberg" was finished in 1948 and released in Germany, where it "played an important role in the de-Nazification of Germany conducted by (its) military government," said Sandra Schulberg,a film producer who with Josh Waletzky restored her father's documentary. Schulberg will appear with the film today at the Crest Theatre.
A planned release in the United States never happened. Sandra Schulberg recently viewed a letter, turned up by Nuremberg scholar John Barrett, dated 1948 and signed by the then-secretary of war, giving insight as to why.
The letter, addressed to Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who had been chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, informed Jackson that because U.S. policy toward Germany had changed, showing the film to U.S. audiences would no longer have served a purpose.
"There were people at the State Department who were worried about the fact that in 1948 and '49, we were committed to rebuilding Germany," Schulberg said. "They were afraid that if you showed this to Americans, it would remind them of how much they really hated the Nazis and Germany."
The film also had been rejected by at least one studio head for its graphic depiction of Jewish and other concentration camp victims.
Though a significant portion of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" is devoted to the Holocaust, its scope is far broader. It offers a step-by-step account, from "Mein Kampf" onward, of Adolf Hitler and top Nazi officers' planning and execution of a war of aggression.
The film is "extremely helpful in understanding how one frames war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression," said David Scheffer, a Northwestern University School of Law professor and former ambassador at large for war-crimes issues under the Clinton administration. Scheffer spoke last week at a screening of the film in Chicago.
"It establishes so many of the important precedents in both law and practice in prosecuting war criminals that we use today. This film gives you an understanding of the origins of laws and procedures that are far more common today than they were in the 1940s."
The "Lesson for Today" subtitle was included with the 1948 film as an acknowledgment of the two years between the trials' conclusion and the film's completion. Yet the principles of Nuremberg still are being reinforced – and tested – today.
"I think what happened (recently) with Osama bin Laden does challenge somewhat what occurred at Nuremberg," said Scheffer, who as ambassador participated in the creation of international criminal tribunals for war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
"Prior to Nuremberg, there was … tremendous pressure to simply summarily execute the Nazi leadership. I think it was a credit to the United States and (then-) War Secretary (Henry) Stimson to push back against the hand of vengeance (in favor of) accountability through a fair trial – and educate the world in the process."
"The film 'Nuremberg' reminds us how significant it is to have (the accused) have the right to defend themselves, and then in most cases, be convicted," Scheffer said. "That option was available (with bin Laden), but the decision was made that he would be considered a 'belligerent combatant' and that he was a fair target for killing."
(The United States is not a member of the permanent International Criminal Court, and that court covers only crimes committed after it was established in 2002).
As "Nuremberg" shows, having war criminals speak for themselves establishes precedent and adds to the historical record. It also, for film viewers, can be fascinating to watch, with the "Nuremberg" defendants' calm demeanor standing in sharp contrast to the monstrous acts of which they are accused.
"What is extraordinary is to hear these defendants, trying to show how they are apologetic – or not apologetic," Schulberg said.
Stuart Schulberg was a "junior member" of the OSS unit that sought Nazi-shot film footage to use as evidence, his daughter said, but his brother, Budd, was a top man in the unit. Budd Schulberg, a "Nuremberg" producer and a screenwriter who would win an Oscar for "On the Waterfront," also had been in charge of bringing propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in as a material witness.
"He told me he thought she should be arrested, but that was not the warrant he had," Sandra Schulberg said of her uncle, who died in 2009. "He said she kept protesting that she was just an artist."
Sandra Schulberg, a New York-based film producer ("Quills," "Undisputed"), had seen only bits and pieces of "Nuremberg" when, while sorting through her mother's things after her death, she found her late father's records of making and researching "Nuremberg."
"They revealed this really amazing – and, I realized, untold – story not only about the making of 'Nuremberg,' but the hunt for the Nazi films that were shown at the trial," Schulberg said.
The discovery sparked an idea to preserve the film, though she had some reservations.
"I was worried that if you brought the film back, it would remind people how horrible the Nazis were, and I didn't want people blaming present-day Germany," Schulberg said. "Germany has learned the lessons of Nuremberg better than any other country. They are leaders in the world today in finding ways to resolve conflicts by peaceful means."
Since no negative existed, the filmmakers worked from the best existing print, which was in German. Actor and prolific documentary narrator Liev Schreiber recorded his narration from the original script, and the soundtrack was reassembled using in-house audio from the trials.
The restoration makes available to the public a film that, in its absence, "left a big hole in the historical record," Schulberg said. "This is a unique document because it is the one and only film about the trial that tells the whole story of the trial."
Sixty-three years late, this week marks the Chicago premiere of documentary filmmaker Stuart Schulberg's account of the 1945-46 Nuremberg war crimes trial. Produced by the U.S. War Department, the 80-minute film was shown all over Germany in 1948, though never in America. With the Marshall Plan in place, the film's stern mixture of trial footage, shorthand Third Reich history lesson and archival depictions of incomparably awful human suffering was considered bad timing — a reminder too soon.
Of course, no reminder of moral horror on this scale can come too soon, or too late. America's role in this international military tribunal remains an inspiration, especially considering the fragility of our international moral authority (as recent presidential administrations have proved). U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, a primary force behind the making of "Nuremberg," had the idea to collect the Nazis' visual evidence, primarily stills and film footage, before it was destroyed. The last words we hear, read on the restored film's soundtrack by Liev Schreiber, are Jackson's. The trials, he said, serve as a warning to "all those who plan and wage aggressive war." The less familiar part of his statement immediately precedes that sentence: Nuremberg, as Jackson asserted with an idealism bordering on naivete, reminds the world that "those who start a war will pay for it personally."
Reviewed by DOUGLAS J. GUTH
Senior Staff Reporter
The decades have not diminished the impact of the Holocaust on the international psyche, so it follows that the recently unearthed and restored film that documents the prosecution of some of the Holocaust’s most infamous architects has a comparable significance 60 years after it was made.
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” opening today (May 6) at Cedar Lee Theatre, was written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg. A veteran of the OSS War Crimes Unit, Schulberg was tasked with compiling Nazi film evidence to be used against the 22 defendants charged as war criminals at Nuremberg.
The film was distributed throughout Germany in 1948 and 1949 as part of the country’s de-Nazification program, but political concerns prevented it from being released in the U.S. “Nuremberg” effectively disappeared from public consciousness, and the original film’s negative and sound elements were lost or destroyed.
Schulberg’s daughter Sandra, working alongside sound designer Josh Waletzky, created a new negative and reconstructed the soundtrack using original sound from the trial. The result is an unflinching look at the Nazi Party’s rise to power and the horrors inflicted on tens of millions of people in the name of world domination.
The 2009 reprint offers harrowing footage of war victims interspersed with audio and video from the landmark court proceeding that laid the foundation for all subsequent war crimes’ trials. More than anything, “Nuremberg” is an important historical document that gives insight into the men who blindly followed Adolf Hitler into madness.
Seeing the faces and hearing the words of the defendants is the most fascinating aspect of the restored documentary. Every atrocity levied against them is illustrated by the same footage of war and brutality that was actually shown as evidence at Nuremberg.
Images of emaciated corpses and prisoners of war kept in an open field like cattle still have an awful power even after 60 years. The film recording these horrors carries a similarly forceful impression.
Not rated. 1:20. In English and German with English subtitles.
A suppressed documentary on the Nuremberg war-crimes trial finally arrives in Chicago
By J.R. Jones
This week the Music Box will present the Chicago premiere of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, a film produced by the U.S. War Department in 1945 and '46 to document the landmark war-crimes trial of 22 top-ranking Nazis by an international military tribunal. Though the movie was released in Germany in 1948 as a way of confronting citizens with the grim reality of the Holocaust, it's never been shown in the United States until now, which gives its 63-year-old subtitle an ironic twist. For some viewers, the movie's chronicle of Nazi aggression will seem dully familiar, the sort of thing broadcast constantly on the History Channel. On the other hand, when Newsweek recently asked a thousand randomly chosen Americans to try their hand at the U.S. naturalization test, only 60 percent of them could identify the nations we fought in World War II. So the movie's lesson might be more rudimentary now than it was back then.
Nuremberg may be appreciated best not as a documentary but as an artifact of the prosecution itself, structured in four parts to reflect the four indictments, though even in this respect it has something to teach us. Imperfect as they were, the Nuremberg trials were a landmark in international relations, a truly heroic effort, mere months after the bloodiest conflict the world has ever known, to establish justice rather than revenge as the norm in dealing with aggressor nations. When the Allies first began to consider the fate of Germany, Joseph Stalin had recommended the summary execution of 50,000 staff officers, an idea that appalled Winston Churchill but appealed to Franklin Roosevelt. Instead, the International Military Tribunal, jointly administered by France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States, set a historic standard for global justice and human rights, codifying the concept of the war crime and validating the notion of an international criminal court.
The story behind Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today is so interesting one wishes that, instead of merely restoring the film for U.S. release, the producers had incorporated it into a longer work (just as Yael Hersonski used surviving footage from a Nazi propaganda film about the Warsaw ghetto for his recent documentary A Film Unfinished). The movie originated when U.S. Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, appointed chief prosecutor for the IMT by President Truman, decided to round up the Nazis' own photographs and film footage to be introduced as evidence. The U.S. Army's Office of Strategic Services formed a special unit—commanded by director John Ford—to locate this material, and based on tips from informants (among them the legendary Leni Riefenstahl) collected a wealth of images before they could be destroyed. The unit created two films that were shown in court: The Nazi Plan, which ran four hours, andNazi Concentration Camps, which compiled British and American footage of the camps being liberated.
Jackson also wanted the OSS unit to record the entire trial, which lasted ten and a half months, though ultimately that chore went to the U.S. Army Signal Corps, which managed to shoot only about 25 hours of footage. After the trial was over, Pare Lorentz—the great documentary maker who'd chronicled the Depression in The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1938)—commissioned a movie about the trial in his capacity as film coordinator for the U.S. War Department. The assignment went to a young member of the OSS unit, Stuart Schulberg (whose father, B.P. Schulberg, had been a key executive at Paramount Pictures, and whose older brother, Budd, would script On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd). Schulberg was hamstrung by the dearth of available footage, though he was able to draw on complete audio recordings of the trial, which he awkwardly synced up with what imagery there was, and on the library of archival material that had been collected.
The first indictment, for conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, was the most complex but also the most critical: it allowed prosecutors to include Nazi acts of persecution against Jews and other minorities before the actual outbreak of war and, even more important, obviated the defendants' claim that they were just following orders (the so-called "Nuremberg defense"). As a legal concept, conspiracy was limited to the British and American traditions of jurisprudence, so Jackson took responsibility for making the case in court. Schulberg condenses his argument into a concise history of fascism in Germany: the publication ofMein Kampf, the rise of the Nazi Party, the burning of the Reichstag, the campaign for national rearmament, the introduction of compulsory military service, the conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Hitler's public pronouncements about his good intentions are contrasted again and again with his steady buildup of a war machine that could dominate the world.
The remaining indictments were divided among the other participating nations. The British prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross, presented the case that the defendants had waged wars of aggression in violation of international treaties (which leads Schulberg quite naturally to the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and the beginning of World War II). The French prosecutor, Francois de Menthon, enumerated the Nazis' epic war crimes, including their killing of civilian hostages, looting of art treasures, exploitation of slave labor, and conducting of medical experiments on prisoners. And the Soviet prosecutor, Roman Andreyevich Rudenko, exposed Germany's crimes against humanity, which encompassed not only the Holocaust but the mass murder of Slavs, Gypsies, and Soviet prisoners of war—all told, as many as 17 million people.
Considering the enormity of the crimes, the most surprising aspect of the trial may be that only 12 defendants went to the gallows; seven more served prison terms ranging from ten years to life, and three were acquitted. Thousands more Nazis were tried later, including doctors who'd supervised sinister experiments, industrialists who'd profited from slave labor, and judges who'd enforced corrupt laws (the subject of Stanley Kramer's 1961 drama Judgment at Nuremberg). But no matter how many Germans stood in the dock, Nuremberg became a lightning rod, a symbol of how international law can only approximate justice. After all, no American was ever prosecuted for the U.S. firebombing of civilians in Germany (not to mention the atomic bombing of Japan), and the infamous Katyn Forest massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers in 1940 had to be dropped from the IMT case because the real perpetrators were the Soviet secret police.
In the end, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today may itself have become a casualty of international politics. For reasons that have never been made clear, the War Department chose not to distribute the movie in the U.S., and when Lorentz offered to buy the film and release it himself, he was turned down (he finally quit in frustration). John Norris, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote about the controversy in 1949 and speculated that the government was afraid images of Nazi atrocities would turn public opinion against the Marshall Plan's goal of rehabilitating Germany. If that's true, then the quashing of a documentary film seems like a small price to pay for the peace that's prevailed in Western Europe ever since. Like the Nuremberg trials, the Marshall Plan became an international symbol of America at its best, a fragile boat of civility making its way up a river of vengeance.
By ANN HORNADAY
More than 60 years after it was made, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” arrives in American theaters as something of a minor miracle.
In 1945, the U.S. prosecutors at the International Military Tribunal made two revolutionary decisions: They commissioned Stuart Schulberg, a filmmaker with the OSS Field Photographic Branch, to create documentaries about Nazi history and atrocities that would be used as evidence in the trial of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. And they announced that they wanted the trial itself to be filmed as a document of a new form of transitional justice.
The resulting work was shown in Germany in 1948 and 1949 as part of the greater de-Nazification program. But it was withheld from American audiences (for reasons that have never been clear) until now.
“Nuremberg,” a meticulous restoration by Schulberg's daughter Sandra and Josh Waletzky, faithfully preserves the original 1948 documentary, adding new subtitles and a narration by Liev Schreiber.
The intervening decades make the film's messages all the more potent — and not only in its depiction of how economic insecurity, intolerance and demagoguery can be used to manipulate the most depraved forces of a civilized society. “Nuremberg” also stands as a fascinating record of a nascent international court system, the wages of aggressive war and a country's tentative steps toward coming to grips with its history.
Schulberg's father made “Nuremberg” for the U.S. War Department and the U.S. military government in Berlin, using footage he and his screenwriter brother Budd gathered for the two evidentiary films Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson requested: a 4-hour documentary on the history of Nazism and a 1-hour documentary about the concentration camps. Schulberg also had access to 25 hours of the trial itself, which lasted nearly a year. Cobbling together the Nazis' own propaganda footage (some of it shot by Leni Riefenstahl), some postwar footage he himself filmed and the trial testimony, Schulberg created a fascinating collage, juxtaposing the bitter truths of the war — its lies and cruelties and mass murders — with scenes of its most notorious architects being confronted about their roles.
It's a tawdry, dispiriting tableau. Viewers will be familiar with some of the most distressing images in “Nuremberg,” but Schulberg and his team managed to uncover their own fresh hells, such as a film depicting an early gas chamber, using a car with a long exhaust pipe leading into a small cabin. At the trial, the accused war criminals — 22 in all, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Albert Speer — looked alternately bored and disgusted, shielding their eyes from the movie lights with dark sunglasses.
Because “Nuremberg” was aimed primarily at German audiences, some references to German history and institutions will be lost on contemporary American audiences. But the specificity of its mission adds to the allure of a film that possesses a riveting brand of rough, raw immediacy. Seen alongside the equally extraordinary “A Film Unfinished,” with its Nazi footage of the Warsaw ghetto, “Nuremberg” provides yet another mesmerizing lesson in how even the most cynical propaganda can be recast in the service of truth.
And with terms like “war crimes,” “military tribunals” and the “Nuremberg principles” now part of a sometimes overheated political vernacular, this heroically preserved film offers a sobering lesson in where and why many of those ideas were first conceived. The “today” of its original title may be been meant for a different generation, but “Nuremberg” couldn't be more of the moment.
BY ROGER EBERT / May 4, 2011
Of all the many documentaries about the Holocaust, this was the first, made before the term was routinely linked to the event more properly called the Shoah. "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" was edited from many hours of film taken at the 11-month Nuremberg Trial, which starting in 1945 placed 22 high-ranking Nazis on trial for crimes which together amounted to an outrage against decency. Assembled and edited by Stuart Schulberg with U. S. government funding, the film was exhibited throughout Germany in 1948 and 1949, and then taken from release and never seen in America.
It gave audiences the spectacle of seeing such iconic Nazis as Göring, Borman, Hess and Speer, now humbled in an international courtroom, earphones clamped to their heads as they listen to the irrefutable evidence of their infamy. The film intercuts statements by the prosecution and defense and brief statements by some of the defendants.
As the record of crimes is read out, he film edits in horrifying footage from other documentaries made for the U. S. Army by such as John Ford. I hadn't seen all of these images before. Jews being marched naked through the streets, gloating mobs empowered by flimsy armbands, skeletal "subjects" of "medical experiments," the impossibly emaciated survivors of the death camps. An unspeakable sequence of corpses being piled into a mass grave, raising the question of why such film was shot, and why anyone agreed to be seen in it. The systematic extermination of six million Jews and nearly as many others was carried out boldly and openly, without apology, and when the unrepentant Göring is asked in the dock if he ever said human life was worthless, his answer rings out:"Jawhol!"
Most of the others seem repentant, and many in their final statements express resentment at what they see as Hitler's betrayal of their values, whatever they thought those were. It is revealing that even then, with the horrifying portrait of their evil deeds laid bare, they instinctively glorified Hitler so much that it was all his fault. Every single one of them was apparently only following orders, even those shown to have personally signed documents ordering the murder of children and those too weak to be useful slaves.
The film is not sophisticated; it is a bludgeon in words and images that cannot be presented otherwise. It was seen as a weapon of "denazification." Some of it feels anachronistic, because at Nuremberg for the first time evidence was assembled and presented that has later become well known. Many Germans claimed at the time they didn't know what was being done in their names; for some of them it must have been true, and the purpose of this film was to show them their evil leaders, sitting in the dock--never, ever, in the footage here, ever looking at one another.
The film, as I said, was never seen in America. This print has been assembled under the supervision of Sandra Schulberg, Stuart's daughter, and Josh Waletzky, who began with an archival print found in Berlin. They have made the decision to restore the original film. Good enough, but there could have been two modern additions. Subtitles would be invaluable to identify the defendants. And there could have been an explanation of why the film was suppressed.
At the time of the Nuremberg trial, it was a growing embarrassment that Stalin, an ally during the war, was as guilty of atrocities as anyone in the dock. And, as Robert McNamara much later said that Gen. Jimmy Doolittle told him after the bombing of Tokyo, that, too, was a war crime.
This point is well made by Salon's film critic, Andrew O'Hehir, who writes: "Even amid all the contradiction and ambiguity of the Nuremberg process, the argument made there was clear: All the nations of the world had to be held to the same standard, and every nation that waged aggressive warfare and committed war crimes, no matter how large or rich or powerful, would be judged accordingly."
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today
Stuart Schulberg and his writer brother Budd (who penned On the Waterfront, among other gritty classics) documented the Nuremberg trials of 1945 and 1946 for a movie that was all set for release in 1948. But for some reason it never made it to U.S. theaters. More than 60 years later, Stuart's daughter Sandra restored the film, which is just now getting a proper release (it played at the Cleveland International Film Festival in March). Even after all these years, this straightforward account of Nazi war crimes still manages to shock. It opens Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre.
By Amy Biancolli, HEARST NEWSPAPERS
Some films are so important that they resist all criticism and render it moot. The unearthed and restored Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, for instance: Anyone with any interest in Hitler, the Holocaust, and the international war-crimes trials that followed should see it.
This is a documentary written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg, a veteran of the OSS War Crimes Unit who was charged with tracking down Nazi film evidence to be used at the Nuremberg trials. Commissioned by the War Department and screened throughout Germany (as part of the de-Nazification program), Nuremberg intercuts audio and video from the trials with footage that was entered as evidence in the prosecution's case.
Because of postwar political complications (most likely, the Cold War), the film (Nürnberg und seine Lehre) was never released theatrically in the United States. It had all but evaporated from history - the negative was lost, along with many sound elements - when Schulberg's daughter Sandra mounted an effort to restore it. Working with sound designer Joshua Waletzky, she pieced together a new negative and soundtrack incorporating original sound. It's an extraordinary document.
As the 22 defendants sit in their dock, listening to headphones, the prosecution lays it all out: the rise of Adolf Hitler; the diabolical plans for armed domination; the horrors committed against prisoners of war, civilians of occupied nations, disabled people, Jews. At each stage, for each count against them, unvarnished footage of war and atrocities unspools.
We see - just as they did in Nuremberg - the clips of invasions, speeches, goose-stepping armies, hollow faces, and mountainous piles of emaciated corpses. After all the decades, these images retain a terrible power.
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (Nürnberg und seine Lehre) *** 1/2 (out of four stars)
"People wanted the answers," narrates Liev Schreiber. "They wanted to know what happened and why." In 1945, World War II was over and the victors endeavored to provide those answers, through the forum of the Nuremburg war crimes trial. A first version of this documentary was assembled in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg from footage of the war and the courtroom; restored by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky, it now reveals not only the horrors embodied by the Nazi officials, but also suggests how the trial imposed order — and offered answers — for traumatized survivors. Images of Nazi atrocities, cut alongside testimonies and prosecutors' assessments, assert that the trial was righteous in every way, a model of legal and moral process. Given its postwar origin, the film can't consider concerns that those convicted might have been tortured to extract confessions, or other possible imperfections in the process. Still, the film conveys the efforts to restore some trust in institutional authority, as a source of answers, as impossible as that may have been.
Judgment of "Nuremberg" has been long in arriving.
But now, 63 years after the documentary made at the behest of the U.S. War Department and the Office of Strategic Services was completed and shown in Germany — but shoved into a cubbyhole committed to oblivion in the States — it is premiering this weekend at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Restored and restating one of the most important trials of the 20th century, "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" offers just that — as well as what it provided more than six decades earlier.
The lessons are not lost on Sandra Schulberg, whose father, Stuart Schulberg, and uncle, Budd Schulberg, were two members of the OSS team (along with such notables as Ray Kellogg) responsible for this timeless but somehow lost-to-time documentary of the trial of war criminals of Hitler's heinous ring.
"Death by hanging!" was the fate awaiting many of the noxious Nazis in the German city where the trial was held in 1945 and 1946.
But why was the public literally left hanging for so many years, as the film found its way to German screens immediately but not to American audiences?
It is a puzzlement of mazes and mistakes as well as guarded secrets that secrete somewhat a distrust of the American public to handle two enemies at one time.
As one journalistic wag reasoned of what would be a six-decade delay, Americans — by postwar, taken up with the sinister Soviets — could only handle one enemy at a time.
And had the public here seen "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" then, the reasoning went, there is little doubt they would have marshalled forces to derail what was the Marshall Plan of redevelopment of Germany.
A viewing of this film in 2011 sets back the calendar on its ear and year, to a time when Nazi atrocities were carried out with ease and sleaze by barbarians at the gates of Auschwitz and Mauthausen.
The film, hailed by at least one critic as "one of the most historic films never seen," shows off horrid war atrocities in film clips — the inclusion at the trial a startling effective tool by Nuremberg's chief U.S. prosecutor — defended by shrugs of shoulders by seemingly even-tempered men in suits and ties who just years earlier, in their spiffy uniforms and with sadistic temperaments, had shrugged off Jewish humanity as one geared for the ash heap.
Heaps of praise have since come Sandra Schulberg's way, as well as filmmaker Josh Waletzky (director, "Partisans of Vilna"), who have restored some sense of sanity — as well as the print/soundtrack itself — to the injustice of this "Nuremberg" left unattended.
Meant to Be
Producer Schulberg shoulders a responsibility that she shares with her father and other filmmakers, calling it "bashert" to have brought "Nuremberg" through trials and tribulations over the past eight years or so.
"It was meant to be — bashert — on two levels," she says, one being "that I 'inherited' the documentary," a soiled copy of which was found in her late father's files, "and the other is that I am a movie producer.
"The project would have been daunting for a dentist or a lawyer, but not for a movie producer. It is well within my competence. I didn't have to worry as being identified solely as Stewart Schulberg's daughter; I have a long career behind me as a producer."
And a future, apparently, as well. The final product on the Ritz screen — replete with title cards from the original German shoot — is a frightening a reminder of, as Wordsworth once said, "what man has made of man."
There is a poetic justice that "Nuremberg" finds a screen on the 50th anniversary of the release of the feature film, "Judgement at Nuremberg," the fictionalized account of a later Nuremberg trial (there were 12 in all.) The one refreshed onscreen by Schulberg is probably the most historically prominent, with such Hitler henchmen as Rudolf Hess and Herman Göring at the docket of life and death.
In a way, the opening now is a vindication for those whose original roles have not been tarnished by time: Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, whose role as an articulate and defiantly dynamic U.S. chief prosecutor is only enhanced with viewings; original producer Pare Lorentz, whose frustration with the inability to get the film shown in the United States led to his stepping down from his position as chief of the Film, Theater and Music Section of the War Department, where the late filmmaker became "one of the leaders of the American documentary tradition," avers Schulberg; Ray Kellogg of the OSS; and Joe Zigman, the original film's editor.
And, of course, her father and Bud Schulberg, the latter who would go from on the war front to make "On the Waterfront."
Schulberg's father's fight was diminished somewhat by another assignment and another battle he was asked to lead by the U.S. government: What did you do in the postwar, Daddy? After "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" was finished, "he was asked to stay in Europe and make de-Nazification films," says his daughter.
In covering the history of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," did Sandra Schulberg discover a coverup? "I would not have said that before, but I know now" — having seen what she calls a "smoking letter" of an order signed by the then Secretary of the Army, Kenneth C. Royal, revealed by author John Q. Barrett in his book about Justice Jackson — that the film was held so as to not hold up the implementation of the Marshall Plan.
The filmmaker can understand Royal's reasoning. She herself "had some hesitation" before proceeding with the documentary's restoration, fearing it would also restore past hates and "remind Americans — Jews in particular — of the Nazi horrors.
"But Germany has learned its lesson since Nuremberg and should get tremendous credit" for the about-face it has taken since the war, morally and politically, she claims.
The nuances of Nuremberg are not lost on others: Argentina, with its long hated history of dictatorial rule and "disappeared" protesters, has welcomed the film as has Guatemala, which recently hosted a screening of the film translated into Spanish.
Its message is not lost in translation or in transition to other countries. More than anything, says Schulberg, "the echoes of Nuremberg," and now this movie, sound the alarm for potential victims of suppressed states as they dance up to the precipice of prejudice and see how to avoid that fatal fall.
Stuart Schulberg’s “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” brilliantly documents the first Nuremberg trial of Nazi officials – known as “The Trial of the Major War Criminals” – conducted by the International Military Tribunal from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. This film was a crucial component in the Allies’ campaign to de-Nazify postwar Germany. But it didn’t receive a U.S. theatrical engagement until September 29, 2010, when the Film Forum in New York hosted the restoration created by Schulberg’s daughter, Sandra, and Josh Waletzky.
It opens at the Charles today – and Sandra Schulberg will be introducing and/or discussing the film for every weekend showing. This engagement provides Baltimore moviegoers with an extraordinary opportunity to witness a vital and harrowing piece of history and explore its nuances with the person most responsible for bringing it to light.
What caused the six-decade delay?
Stuart Schulberg made the film for the U.S. War Department’s Civil Affairs Division (his co-producer was the legendary documentary-maker Pare Lorentz, then head of the department’s Film, Theatre and Music arm). By the time he completed it, in 1948, America’s priorities had shifted. Government authorities believed that a lucid, devastating analysis of the Third Reich’s crimes and atrocities, culminating in the annihilation of European Jewry, would undercut popular support for the Marshall Plan, the bold “European Recovery Program” that started rebuilding Germany and all of Western Europe in April 1948. American leaders were eager for U.S. citizens to see West Germany as an ally against their new Cold War enemy, the U.S.S.R.
They shouldn't have been so calculating or so squeamish. “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” specifically focuses on the men who turned “just following orders” into a rule of state. It highlights the suffering of common people throughout Europe. Most important, its swift, surgical treatment of the Shoah has a concentrated potency that never veers into what some critics have dubbed "Holocaust porn."
Stuart Schulberg would go on to a distinguished news and documentary career, including years as NBC’s Senior Documentary Producer. Other skilled moviemakers contributed to this movie’s power, notably Stuart’s older brother, Budd Schulberg, the fiction-writer ("What Makes Sammy Run?") and screenwriter ("On the Waterfront") who was the senior officer in charge of compiling filmed evidence for the U.S. prosecution.
Sandra Schulberg and Waletzky have performed miracles of healing for this restoration. This print even syncs audio recordings of the trial with the documentary’s images, so that audiences can hear the actual voices of the defendants and prosecutors.
But after a half-decade of work on this restoration, Sandra Schulberg, herself an acclaimed executive producer (Philip Kaufman’s “Quills,” Walter Hill’s “Undisputed”), says that the real executive producer of “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” was U.S. Supreme Court associate justice Robert H. Jackson, the lead prosecutor at the first Nuremberg Trial.
Jackson sets the tone with his opening statement: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law, is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.”
The late Lt. Comdr. Morton E. Rome, of Baltimore, was a key member of Jackson’s staff in Nuremberg. His daughter, Nancy, will attend the Baltimore premiere of “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today.”
Here are excerpts from my interview with Sandra Schulberg.
Sandra Schulberg on her own first reaction to the film:
I first saw the film as a sentient adult when my friend Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin Film Festival, asked me to put together a retrospective of Marshall Plan films for his festival. He felt it was important to show “Nuremberg” as a scene-setter. I was disinclined because that was looking backward and the Marshall Plan films were looking forward. But the films were linked, and not just because of my father. Stuart wrote and directed “Nuremberg”; he was also head of the Marshall Plan Motion Picture Section. One reason “Nuremberg” was kept out of theaters in the United States was that [members of the U.S. government] were worried that it would undermine American support for rebuilding Germany through the Marshall Plan.
When I saw it then, in 2004, I wondered how Stuart and his editor, Joe Zigman, could put together such a condensed version of the rise of the Nazi party, the events of the war, and what the Nazis called “the Final Solution” — the industrialized slaughter of the Jews. I was initially confused by the internal logic of the film, but it followed the logic of the trial. The movie’s overall matrix comes from the four counts: conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, committing crimes against peace and [engaging in] wars of aggression, then war crimes and crimes against humanity.
[Supreme Court associate justice] Robert Jackson, the U.S. prosecutor, thought it was crucial to establish a legal basis to condemn governments for wars of aggression. All the evidence wouldn’t have coalesced and been codified were it not for his decisions. This first Nuremberg trial laid the groundwork for twelve more Nuremberg trials – people assume the trial in “Judgment at Nuremberg” was the same trial, but it wasn’t, that was just the trial of the Nazi judges.
On the film’s portrayal of the Holocaust:
The section depicting the persecution and annihilation of the Jews comes relatively late in the film, with the crimes against humanity, but it’s extremely powerful. Some images are awful but familiar; some have been buried for 60 years.
While Stuart was editing the film in Berlin, he found footage that belonged to a Nazi officer, Artur Nebe, of emaciated, naked people in Mogilev (then in Poland, now Belorus), in September, 1941. They were being taken off an open flatbed truck and led into a small building. Hoses, piping, were connecting the exhaust of a running car into the building. It was the first Nazi film of an atrocity being recorded at the same time it was being committed. We're seeing part of the experimentation that led to mobile gas vans and then to the creation of the gas chambers.
I am often asked, when I show the film, why don’t we see any victims, why don’t we hear the testimony of people who survived the camps? That was really Jackson's decision; he was really the driving force behind the trial and in many ways this movie. Once his team found voluminous records, he reasoned that they would have a better chance to convict the Nazis by using their own documents against them. He felt that the defense would do its best to impugn the testimony of eyewitnesses, so it was much more compelling to use written and filmed documents. Jackson was taking a very long view – because he was so very foresight-full, he left an incontrovertible record.
The impact of the filmed evidence at trial:
Uncle Budd [Schulberg] was the senior member of the team that put the moving-picture evidence into the films “The Nazi Plan” and “Nazi Concentration Camps.” The film of “Nazi Concentration Camps” was shown first, a week into the trial, and that really shook up the courtroom. The prosecution wanted to see the faces of the defendants during the showing of the film. According to one psychologist, they didn’t know if [Nazi Party Secretary] Rudolf Hess was experiencing amnesia or just feigning it at the beginning of the trial. By the evening of the day they showed “Nazi Concentration Camps,” he had decided that he’d regained his memory. From then on he participated and didn’t pretend he didn’t know what was going on.
Stuart described, in a letter he wrote, that he had lit the dock so they could see the faces of the defendants, but there was too much light – it would have washed out the screen when they were showing “Nazi Concentration Camps.” As he began to mask the lighting, the prisoners were brought in; they had to come up in groups of two, because the elevator was so small. Little Stuart — he was the youngest man on the team — soon found [Luftwaffe commander and original Gestapo chief] Hermann Goring stepping over him, towering over him. Goring was always the first one in the front bench. Stuart noted Goring’s glee when he realized that they were going to be watching pictures. “Nazi Concentration Camps” wiped the smiles off their faces.
The new meaning of the subtitle: “its lesson for today”:
The irony is that Germans learned the lessons of Nuremberg better than anyone else in the world. There’s a famous quote of Jackson's, in which he says that now we’re sitting in judgment of the Germans, but we must be willing to apply the same standards to our own conduct. Some people who see this film today immediately want to go back to discussing what the Nazis did — they want to know if there are any Nazis left today who need to be prosecuted.
I try to lead them back to the present, to what Holocaust education is like in today's Germany, where it's mandatory for kids to visit the former concentration camps and read the pertinent literature. I talk about Germany’s leadership role in the International Criminal Court. I don’t want people to see this film as just another nail in the Nazi coffin. I want them to use it to reflect where the front lines are today — where the Nuremberg principles are today — what Americans need to do to galvanize our officials to support the International Criminal Court.
When I show this film to young German kids, I can’t let them leave the theater thinking that they’re guilty. We have a moral obligation to reassure them that they're not. [Reich Law Leader] Hans Frank, when he was trying to show repentance, said. “A thousand years will pass and the guilt of Germany will not be erased.” I don’t believe that; my father didn’t believe that.
Restored 1948 documentary about Nazi war crimes remains relevant
By Lee Gardner
Clumped together closely in their courtroom box, the Nazis look like ordinary men. They sit stoically, their hair either close-cropped or slicked back. Most wear suits, though some sport uniforms without rank insignia or medals. Many wear headphones to keep up with the translation of the proceedings; a few hide conspicuously behind sunglasses. But asNuremberg’s footage follows the Nuremberg Trials through late 1945 and on into 1946, it becomes harder and harder to fathom that these men did the monstrous things they did, as detailed in the exhaustive case mounted against them by an international team during the first international “war crimes” trial in human history. Almost more difficult to fathom is the idea that they ever thought they’d get away with them.
The Nuremberg Trials were designed to ensure that no one would ever presume that again. But in the wake of genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and Bosnia and various dubiously motivated acts of international aggression since—not to mention the unending muddle that is the search for a resolution regarding the detainees held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay—the shining idea that a righteous international gathering could convene to expose and punish such evil definitively seems distant and faint. There is, then, perhaps no better time for the restoration and release of Stuart Schulberg’s long-unseen 1948 feature-length documentary on the trials.
Nuremberg begins with the sort of newsreel-style thumbnail history that is likely to remind viewers (some unpleasantly) of History Channel fare. But this isn’t a rote retelling of history as much as a piece of it. Working on behalf of the U.S. government, Schulberg worked as part of a team to uncover Nazi footage of their own atrocities, some of which was used as evidence at the trial as well as combined with film of the initial 10-month proceedings to create Nuremberg. While the archival footage is brutally compelling (e.g., men in white coats assisting walking skeletons into a small brick building, which is revealed to be hooked up to the exhaust pipe of an idling automobile), it’s the relentless narrative of the courtroom case that makes this battered-looking celluloid so gripping.
Most everything here is well-known history, but to hear the prosecutors and Schulberg lay it all out astonishes anew. How Hitler’s rising National Socialist party set fire to the German parliament building, the Reichstag, as a cover/catalyst for a de facto coup d’etat. How Hitler and his top officials reassured Austria that they had no plans to undermine the country’s sovereignty while making plans to do exactly that. How Hitler made the same reassuring noises to Czechoslovakia and Poland just months before brutally invading. How Hitler described the German people as “peaceful, peace-loving, and above all tolerant” while plotting to wipe out the country’s Jews, dissidents, and disabled, the latter termed “useless eaters.” How, as naked international aggression sprawled into world war and German ruthlessness grew, one witness testifies that Adm. Wilhelm Canaris worried aloud that the military would be held accountable one day. How Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering responded to hesitance, second-guessing, and compassion: “This incessant worrying about other people must stop.”
Germany was held accountable after the war ended, in the persons of these powerful men. Some of them remained unrepentant; Nuremberg is worth seeing if only to catch a brief snippet of Goering on the stand testifying that neither he nor Hitler had “the slightest idea” that their government was murdering millions of Jews, and indeed that he believed the Reich’s approach to its Jews involved “emigration not eradication.” (Convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, he killed himself before his death sentence could be carried out.) Others seem, finally, to understand the gravity of what they took part in. In his closing statement, propagandist Hans Fritzsche makes a surprising and effective observation. The rest of the world expected nothing good from Hitler, he argues—now imagine your disappointment and disgust if you, like many Germans, did. (Fritzsche, a relatively minor functionary, was acquitted of all charges.)
In his closing statement, Russian prosecutor Roman Rodenko argues that the truth of the Nazis’ crimes had been definitively established, and that “truth is the durable result of this trial.” That truth is a little more secure now that Schulberg’s film has finally seen the light of day again.
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today is guaranteed to make you queasy. And sadly, the nausea you’ll feel won’t be the result of low-budget slasher gore but the real-life actions of German Nazis—and the realization that not only is mankind capable of the most heinous of acts, it also has the gall to feign ignorance of these atrocities.
As unsettling as Nuremberg can be, this restored documentary about the international trial of top Nazi war criminals is also a reminder of how good can ultimately triumph over evil.
Just a few months after World War II ended, an international legal team of American, British, French and Russian lawyers prosecuted the leading Nazis who remained alive. To create a document that would show Germans that the Nazis had been tried fairly—and lay a foundation for how crimes against humanity would be handled in the future—the War Department and U.S. military government commissioned Stuart Schulberg to create a documentary that included courtroom footage of the trial as well as images from the war.
When Schulberg’s documentary was completed in 1948, it was screened in Germany but never shown in the United States because Secretary of the Army Kenneth Royall deemed it “contrary to the present policies and aims of the government.” Over time the picture negative and sound elements were lost or destroyed, making it unlikely that Nuremberg would ever see the light of day stateside.
Now, 60-plus years later, filmmakers Sandra Schulberg (Stuart’s daughter) and Josh Waletzky have created a new 35mm negative using the German Federal Archive’s best print and reconstructing the soundtrack using original sound from the trial. To help keep the story’s flow coherent, actor Liev Schreiber narrates the proceedings using words nearly identical to the movie’s original narration.
The Nuremberg restoration project is a noble effort, and as a historical document there’s no questioning the film’s value. But as a theatrical release it can be frustratingly choppy, incoherent and repetitive. That’s partially understandable: Only 25 hours of footage of the 11-month trial was shot, yielding an incomplete picture of the proceedings and making it challenging for Schulberg and Waletzky to sync audio and video from the trial.
Still, one wonders if taking a non-traditional approach to the source material would have resulted in a more coherent, engaging modern-day viewing experience. As presented, the sum of Nuremberg’s parts fails to exceed the whole. Expanding the film with additional interviews, footage, graphics or narration may have strayed from traditional restoration practices but resulted in a stronger overall product.
Nonetheless, there are individual scenes in Nuremberg that burn into the mind. Listening to Nazi leaders talk about how they were shocked—SHOCKED! —to learn of the atrocities happening under their noses plays like a grotesque exercise in shirking responsibility. Apparently, scapegoating those above and below you in the line of command isn’t a new phenomenon.
Then there’s the testimony and footage regarding the Nazi concentration camps. These scenes are a brutal and necessary reminder of the depths to which humanity can sink. As the original filmmakers intended, there are lessons here that must never be forgotten, and by helping ensure they’re remembered, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today lives up to its original mission.
By ROB THOMAS/The Capital Times
After a relatively sedate January, this weekend brings a slew of new movies to Madison screens, nine total if you include all three showings in the "Oscar Nominated Shorts 2010" series at Sundance.
For Oscar watchers, the most anticipated film on the list is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "Biutiful," which was nominated for both Best Foreign Language Film and Javier Bardem for Best Actor. Bardem does deliver a gem of a performance as a terminally ill man who can communicate with the dead, although to me the film suffers from its long running time (nearly 2 ½ hours) and Inarritu's insistence on going bleak for the sake of bleak.
Speaking of bleak, the downsizing drama "The Company Men" opens at Eastgate and Star Cinema. Given the star power of the cast (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello) it's a rather low-key rollout; perhaps the studios are nervous folks won't want to see a movie about corporate executives getting pink-slipped. But it's a very well-acted movie, and Affleck brings so much heart and charm to the lead role that he keeps it alive and entertaining as well as authentic.
The other big movies hitting theaters are the usual early February hodgepodge, including the animated "Gnomeo and Juliet," the 3D concert film "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," and a new Adam Sandler movie, "Just Go With It," in which he plays a single plastic surgeon pretending to be married with kids so that Brooklyn Decker will date him. Because, secretly, all women really want to bust up somebody else's marriage, right, gals? Adam Sandler, you are so perceptive about the fairer sex.
The best of the multiplex bunch, based on early reviews, seems to be the old-fashioned swords-and-sandals epic "The Eagle," starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, and Donald Sutherland in what, his sixth wise-old-mentor role so far this year? I wonder if he gets killed, so the hero has something to avenge.
Or, if you can't decide what to see, there's always the Oscar shorts programs, this include separate screenings of the Animated, Live Action, and for the first time Documentary nominees. This year's batch of animated films is especially strong and very family-friendly, including the new Pixar short "Day & Night" and gorgeous adaptations of the kids' books "The Gruffalo" and "The Lost Thing."
I was not crazy about most of the nominees for Live Action, the exception being the sweet and funny "God of Love." But you can get that (along with all the other short films) individually via iTunes. The documentary nominees are also all worth seeing, although be forewarned that they're all 30 to 45 minutes long, which will make for a long sit at the theater.
The UW Cinematheque (4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave.) has a nice coup on Friday night at 7 p.m. with a screening of the documentary "Nuremberg: Its Lessons For Today," about the famous Nuremberg trials of over two dozen high-ranking Nazi officials. The film was commissioned by the U.S. government in 1948 but then suppressed until this fall.
It's a restored print, featuring English titles and narration by actor Liev Schreiber As a special treat, producer Sandra Schulberg, who is the daughter of the director, Stuart Schulberg, and oversaw the restoration, will be in attendance and will serve on a post-show panel discussion with some UW faculty members. I imagine the first question will be "Why did the U.S. government suppress a film about the Nuremberg trials?"
On Saturday night, as part of its "Patterns of Shadow" salute to three great Hollywood cinematographers, Cinematheque will be presenting a double feature of two films lensed by cinematographer Lee Garnes, the hard-boiled 1931 drama "City Streets" (starring Gary Cooper, and based on a Dashiel Hammett short story) at 7 p.m., and the offbeat romance "Zoo in Budapest" at 8:30 p.m.
Patrick Keating, a UW graduate and assistant professor at Trinity University in San Antonio, curated the entire "Patterns of Shadow" series. He'll make a special appearance in Madison on Saturday to introduce both films. Remember that all Cinematheque showings are free, but seating is limited and first-come, first-serve.
Elsewhere on campus, the Memorial Union is celebrating Charles Darwin Day with a special showing of "Creation," starring Paul Bettany as everybody's favorite evolutionary theorist, at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Fredric March Play Circle, 800 Langdon St.
Over the weekend, the Union will be showing "Love and Other Drugs," the romantic comedy-drama starring the apparently often-naked Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Haven't seen it, but I did see the gonzo Korean Western "The Good, The Bad, The Weird," which is playing at midnight Saturday at the Play Circle. The Sergio Leone homage is an insanely entertaining two hours of beautifully-staged mayhem, and highly recommended.
By Todd Stevens
The UW Cinematheque is a haven for Madison film buffs. With no first-run movie theater on campus and Memorial Union focusing mostly on recent releases, the Cinematheque serves as our own personal window into film history every Friday and Saturday night in 4070 Vilas Hall. Its screenings feature new series each semester delving into new genres, filmmaking techniques and trends in world cinema. This semester is no different, featuring four intriguing series exploring scattered facets of the film universe. The Daily Cardinal spoke with Cinematheque Director of Programming Jim Healy to take a look at each individual series, as well as preview some of their upcoming semester highlights.
Mann of the West: The Westerns of Anthony Mann
Perhaps the most well-known profile in this semester's Cinematheque series centers on famed director Anthony Mann, who is revered in Hollywood for helping to craft the image of the American west along with other directors such as John Ford and Howard Hawks. Healy feels the Anthony Mann series has perfect timing, as the western genre seems to be going through a revival.
"Now that the western is kind of back with ‘True Grit' being such a hit, I think people can see some of the scenes being laid in Anthony Mann's films," Healy said. According to Healy, Mann's influences can be seen in the works of current auteurs like Kelly Reichardt, whose styles were formed at least in part by Mann's westerns. The series continues next Friday with the Jimmy Stewart film "Bend of the River," showcasing a collaboration between two of the most iconic figures in the western genre.
Patterns of Shadow: Hollywood Film and the Art of Lighting
Switching focus from directing to the art of cinematography, "Patterns of Shadow" highlights the work of three of Hollywood's most noteworthy cinematographers of old: Lee Garmes, James Wong Howe and Arthur Miller. While not always noticed by the general public the cinematographer is vital to the look of a film, and this series analyzes some of the greatest examples of black and white cinema artistry. The Cinematheque has already screened one of the most famous examples of James Wong Howe's work in "The Sweet Smell of Success," but some of the most underrated work is yet to come from Miller in the films "Dragonwyck" and "Wee Willy Winkie."
"(Miller) is a guy who spent almost his entire career at 20th Century Fox and doesn't get the recognition of someone like James Wong Howe, maybe just because he never wrote his memoirs, never ran around celebrating himself," Healy said. Healy himself has never seen "Dragonwyck," so even for him this series contains an element of discovery.
Nollywood Rising: Nigeria's Booming Film Industry
The Cinematheque delves even deeper into unexplored territory with its series on Nollywood, the center of the rapidly-expanding Nigerian film industry that still remains mostly unknown to American audiences.
"One of the reasons why we're doing it and kind of what drove me to it was it's something to explore and it's something to discover," Healy said.
Nollywood cinema may seem obscure, but according to Healy it actually revolves around accessible genre films, including popcorn action flicks and broad comedies. In this case, one of the movies featured is "Osuofia in London," an action-comedy that appeals to a wide swath of tastes.
"That's who the films are made for, they are made for Nigerians," said Healy. "Though they do rise above the pack of typical genre fare."
Reconstructions, Restorations and Rediscoveries
Healy has a particular affection for the "Reconstructions" series, as it is the one where he had the most input and considers his specialty, allowing for the most freedom in choosing the lineup.
"It allows for a great deal of variety and one-off screenings united under one umbrella," Healy said. "You've got something like ‘Nuremberg,' which is a highly publicized restoration, as well as something like ‘Upstream,' the John Ford film that less than two years ago was completely lost to history, then rediscovered and shown again."
Friday the Cinematheque will screen "Nuremberg: Its Lesson Today," a series of restored films from the Nuremberg war crimes trials, complete with a talk afterward from Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the film's director. But an even more intriguing selection may be "The Leopard," a 1963 Italian film starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon, which went through several trials before its proper version saw American soil, with its first appearance in the states cut 40 minutes short of its original runtime.
"In the early 80s Americans finally got to see the long version for the first time," Healy said, "but they didn't go in and really clean up the negative."
This version has gone through both color and sound restorations in the last 10 years, so this screening should impress not only with its story but also with its presentation, much like the entire "Restorations" series.
Delivering the news in the late 1940s that Universal Pictures would not release Stuart Schulberg's documentary about the 1945–1946 Nuremberg trials of 22 senior Nazi officers, the company's PR flack explained to the film's producers that "the subject matter and the way it is treated is altogether too gruesome to stomach." But now that we are up to our necks in Holocaust iconography, are we unshockable? Does the release of a remastered Nuremberg, 60 years after the trial, add to the uncomfortable sense that we all may be perpetuating genocide porn? Certainly it adds to our growing desensitization, though it's clear that was not the intention of Schulberg's daughter, Sandra, and Josh Waletzky, who supervised a painstaking restoration for the film's first theatrical release in North American theaters. (Sandra Schulberg will be in attendance at the Lagoon Cinema's screenings on Friday and Saturday.) With sober narration by Liev Schreiber, Nuremberg is clearly a labor of love and posthumous restitution to the Schulberg brothers (Stuart's famous sibling, Budd, was involved in the filmmaking as well). The new film's most notable achievement is a refreshed soundtrack that allows us to actually hear the defendants' translated testimony, a tawdry ragbag of defiance, denial, rationalization, Hitler-blame, and mutual betrayal. Also newly audible are American prosecutorJustice Robert H. Jackson's stirring addresses: "Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war," he said. If there's a takeaway for audiences today, it's a sad one of lessons ignored or flouted after half a century of global mass murder. —Ella Taylor
Daughter painstakingly restores dad’s film
By Daniel M. Kimmel
Special to the Advocate
Viewers of “Nuremberg” will have to wait for the DVD and accompanying book to get the full story as to why this 1948 documentary took more than 60 years to be shown in the United States. Directed by Stuart Schulberg (whose brother, Budd Schulberg, wrote “On the Waterfront,” and contributed to the film), it was a massive undertaking requiring footage from various sources, including Nazi film archives that were in danger of being destroyed.
The film was never shown in the United States – even though a movie on the same subject produced by our wartime ally the Soviet Union was getting US screenings – for various and perhaps conflicting reasons. Sandra Schulberg, daughter of Stuart and a producer in her own right, helped put together the restoration.
Restoring the image was relatively easy. A complete copy of the movie existed in the German film archives. The problem was the soundtrack. It had to be put together from scratch, which meant coming up with English narration and audio recordings to match the images. “Where we had the live sound and the picture to match it, we let you hear it,” Schulberg said.
The music track also had to be reconstructed, as there was no written score and some of the existing music was combined with German narration. The restorers hired a composer to listen to and transcribe the music, and used a synthesizer to recreate the original sound. “It was the hardest thing we did,” Schulberg said.
So why was the film never shown in the United States? One reason was that government officials feared it would rile up audiences against Germany at a time when the United States was reconstructing the country under the Marshall Plan and entering the Cold War against the Soviet Union. “It was very politically awkward in 1949,” said Schulberg, who noted that another obstacle was that American military officials objected to the fact that German military figures had been tried by a civilian tribunal. It got to the point that the US Army denied a request by Nuremberg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson to show the documentary to the New York Bar Association; he screened the Soviet film instead.
This was noted at the time, with several people criticizing the government for suppressing the film. Journalist William L. Shirer, who would write “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” called it “a scandal” that American viewers could not see the documentary. Columnist Walter Winchell went further, condemning the officials who prevented the film’s release to his “Hall of Shame” and accusing them of, in effect, being complicit in covering up Nazi war crimes.
There was another problem as well. American distributors balked at the documentary’s graphic depictions of the death camps. “How could you think of showing this to an entertainment -seeking public?” an executive at Universal Pictures wrote in a letter unearthed from the files.
As a result, after the film finished its run in German theaters, it was shelved and largely forgotten.
Sandra Schulberg decided against including an introduction to the film explaining why it had been suppressed. “It’s just too complicated a story to reduce to one card” preceding the film, she noted. Instead, the material will be presented on the DVD and in the book she is preparing. For the moment, she has the satisfaction of having restored her father’s work and ensuring that it is available to American viewers at last.
By Daniel M. Kimmel
If you ask film buffs about the post-World War II war crimes trials in Germany, the movie that will be cited is “Judgment at Nuremberg,” the 1961 Hollywood dramatic blockbuster with an all-star cast. It’s an important film to be sure, but while the feature focuses on serious crimes, it’s based on the later trials.
“Nuremberg” tells that story, and the amazing thing is that the film was made more than 60 years ago and is only reaching American screens now. (See accompanying article for the behind-the-scenes story.) Featuring a painstakingly restored soundtrack, the film shows the surviving German leaders facing the evidence of their wartime actions.
Created to be shown to German audiences so they could not deny what had been done in their name, it was a devastating indictment. The filmmakers, working under the authority of the Allied command – but primarily the Americans – were able to film about 25 hours of the trial. The trial itself lasted 10 months. We see and hear the opening statements of the prosecutors, including US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson.
The film itself is only 80 minutes, and gives a concise summary of the evidence presented of war crimes, including footage from the death camps. In a landmark decision, filmed evidence was ruled admissible at trial. We see excerpts from both films produced for the trial: “The Nazi Plan,” spelling out in detail the wartime record of betrayal and destruction; and “Nazi Concentration Camps,” which was an hour version of a longer film produced by the US military and known as the “Army Signal Corps Atrocity Film.”
Perhaps the most dramatic material is at the end when we hear the defendants speak on their own behalf. We don’t quite get what would later be called the “Nuremberg defense” – that the defendant was “only following orders” – but we do hear man after man claiming to be shocked by what he saw, claiming he had no idea. A few argue that the material is somehow out of context. It’s hard to say from just the film who was sincerely appalled. A few of the defendants were acquitted, while most were sentenced to long prison terms or death. The most prominent of the defendants, Hermann Goering, would commit suicide in his cell rather than face the hangman.
Released in Germany in 1948 and 1949, “Nuremberg” was intended as part of the educational process of “de-Nazification,” where the German public would be shown the record of crimes and their leaders being punished. For various political reasons, plans to show it in the United States were cancelled. This restoration brings an important historic and cinematic document to American viewers at last.
Restored film of first trial of top Nazis premieres in US
By Loren King
Stuart and Budd Schulberg are renowned figures in television and cinema history — Stuart produced “David Brinkley’s Journal’’ and “Today’’ for NBC in the 1960s and his older brother, Budd, wrote “On the Waterfront’’ and “A Face in the Crowd.’’ But their most enduring legacy might be “Nuremberg,’’ the 1948 documentary commissioned by the United States military about the first war crimes trial of Nazi leaders in 1945, just six months after the end of World War II. Although released in Germany, the film was withheld in the United States for six decades until Sandra Schulberg, Stuart’s daughter, restored it.
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today’’ opens Friday at the Kendall Square Cinema with Sandra Schulberg present for question-and-answer sessions on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Schulberg first learned of the documentary in 2003 while going through papers in her mother’s apartment. “Nuremberg’’ had never been “lost,’’ she said, as much as it was “actively shelved’’ by the United States government for various political reasons including the advent of the Cold War and skittishness over the images of the Nazi death camps in the documentary. “A 16mm print sat on my father’s shelf near his TV for more than 20 years. But that was useless for restoration,’’ said Schulberg. Eventually she tracked down a 35mm print that had been stored in government archives at a facility in Nebraska. She then embarked on a five-year effort to raise money to restore the original 35mm film.
“I’m not a historian or a Holocaust scholar but watching my father’s film for the first time, in 2004, I felt as though I got new insight into the rise of the Nazi party. Growing up, I knew about my father’s later career in television, but like many children, we didn’t talk about what happened before I was born,’’ she said. “By the time I became interested in this film, in 2004, my father was long gone. I was lucky I could ask Budd.’’
To her great sadness, Budd Schulberg died in August 2009 before restoration of “Nuremberg’’ had been completed. “But he knew that I’d accomplished it and he was very happy,’’ she said.
As part of director John Ford’s Washington, D.C.-based Office of Strategic Services Field Photographic Branch/War Crimes Unit, Budd and Stuart Schulberg were dispatched to Europe to compile footage from Nazi propaganda films, newsreels, and private movies that hadn’t been destroyed by the Germans at the end of the war. The assembled footage was used as evidence during the first Nuremberg trial of the top Nazi war criminals. There were later trials of lesser Nazis; “Judgment at Nuremberg,’’ the 1961 feature film, deals with the trial of Nazi judges. The United States War Department, with direct input from Justice Robert H. Jackson, the US prosecutor at Nuremberg, commissioned Stuart Schulberg to complete a documentary about the first trial that attempted to hold accountable some 22 principal architects of Nazi atrocities, including Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, and Albert Speer. For Sandra Schulberg, it was essential that the restored film allow audiences to hear the voices of the Nazis as well as Jackson’s famous opening statement that outlined the mission and importance of the historic tribunal.
“My vision from the beginning was to use the original soundtrack and narration,’’ said Schulberg. The new narration, spoken by Liev Schreiber, “contains very minor changes’’ from Stuart Schulberg’s original, she said. Since the surviving film had only a German soundtrack, the biggest challenge for the restorers was to create an English soundtrack from courtroom recordings. For that task, Schulberg turned to editor, composer, and filmmaker Josh Waletzky, who directed the acclaimed 1986 documentary “Partisans of Vilna,’’ about the Jewish partisan movement in Lithuania during World War II.
Waletzky said the Nuremberg courtroom testimony was originally recorded on cylinders, then transferred to reels. He had to synchronize the sound with visual footage, a painstaking but important process. “The goal from the beginning was to get us as close into that Nuremberg courtroom as possible. It was tricky because the filmmakers recorded everything over the 10-month trial, but filmed only 40 hours,’’ he said.
Schulberg and Waletzky wanted to hear the actual voices of the defendants as they delivered their denials and the impassioned words of the US, Soviet, French, and British prosecutors, even if the sound and image were not in sync. “We wanted to preserve the exact intention of the original filmmakers as closely as possible using the audio in the original ‘loose sync’ style,’’ said Waletzky, who also supervised the recording of the film’s original score, re-created by composer John Califra from musical cues made by the film’s original composer, Hans-Otto Borgmann, whose many credits included Nazi propaganda movies.
For Schulberg, the restoration and long-delayed showing of “Nuremberg’’ in the United States is part of the rich legacy of her father and uncle but also a “vindication’’ for Pare Lorentz, the film’s original producer. “This is a posthumous tribute to Pare Lorentz. He was more disturbed than my father was about what happened to the documentary,’’ she said. “Pare resigned [as head of Film, Theatre and Music in the War Department’s Civil Affairs Division] in frustration over the bureaucracy that would not release the film in the United States. He was personally outraged and tried to buy back the rights and release it himself. I think it had a bigger psychological impact on Pare than on my father, who went on to make de-Nazification films as part of the Marshall Plan in Germany after the war.’’
Schulberg said she is struck by the impact the documentary is having in countries that are facing their own history of war crimes, such as the former Yugoslavia and Guatemala. She said 2,000 Guatemalans packed a theater last year for a Spanish-language screening of “Nuremberg.’’
“The film resonated for them because of the atrocities and disappearances their country endured in the 1980s,’’ she said. “It’s vital that people remember the innovative legal groundwork established at Nuremberg that attempted to hold people accountable for crimes against humanity and acts of aggression. Nuremberg is a mirror into which we all must look, individually and as nations.’’
By Amy Biancolli, Hearst Movie Writer
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today
Documentary. Written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg and reconstructed by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky. Narrated by Liev Schreiber. (NR. 80 minutes. In English, Russian, French and German, with English subtitles. At Bay Area theaters.)
Some films are so important that they resist all criticism and render it moot. The unearthed and restored "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," for instance: Anyone with any interest in Hitler, the Holocaust and the international trials that followed should see it.
This is a documentary written and directed in 1948 by Stuart Schulberg, a veteran of the OSS War Crimes Unit who was charged with tracking down Nazi film evidence to be used at the Nuremberg trials. Commissioned by the War Department and screened throughout Germany (as part of the de-Nazification program), Nuremberg intercuts audio and video from the trials with footage that was entered as evidence in the prosecution's case.
Any criminal proceeding pumped up with enough celebrity, controversy, or lurid detail guarantees it will be slapped with a “Trial of the Century” (TOC) appellation.
The 20th century averaged one TOC every five years or so. Sex, death, and deceit swirled around the trials of celebrities like Fatty Arbuckle and O.J. Simpson. President Clinton was impeached. Patty Hearst and Charles Lindbergh Jr. were thrown into the glare of the media after being kidnapped. The 1921 Chicago Black Sox scandal almost destroyed baseball.
Charles Darwin (through proxy John Scopes) was tried for espousing the theory of evolution. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed after being convicted of passing top-secret information about the hydrogen bomb to the Soviet Union. Robert Oppenheimer, who directed the Manhattan Project, which had been organized to create the first nuclear fission weapon, later lost his security clearance for arguing the world was not ready for the far more powerful thermonuclear fusion bomb.
In the most remarkable criminal proceedings of the 20th century, the Nuremberg Tribunals attempted to contextualize the eruption of mass psychopathology by identifying and punishing the perpetrators of WW II.
Simply put, 61 million people (over 2.5% of the world’s population at the time) died due to the criminal actions of a small group a leaders who had taken totalitarian control of their countries.
Ironically, the real “Trial of the Century” — even though it had been filmed, edited and ready for distribution — has never been shown to American audiences, until now.
Josh Waletzky and Sandra Schulberg, whose father made the original film, have produced a new 35mm print that includes the original spoken soundtrack, which was not available in the 1947 version.
Earlier this week, Culture and Events spoke to Sandra Schulberg in New York by phone about her newly restored film, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today.
The film was originally made for a worldwide audience. Why hasn’t it ever been shown in the United States until now?
Schulberg: When they couldn’t agree between Washington and Berlin on who should make the film and what script to use, Pare Lorenzt, whose job it was at the War Department (which became the Department of Defense) to oversee this film, gave the three competing scripts to Justice Robert H. Jackson (chief U.S. prosecuter at Nuremberg). I know this because in my father’s records I found Jackson’s letter saying, “The only script I that can approve is the Schulberg script because it’s the only script that really reflects the structure of the trial.”
Justice Jackson was the final arbitrar, which I think may be the only time in history that a sitting Supreme Court justice wound up working as an executive producer, if you will.
They finished in April of ’48, but then it took time to plan the German release, and then, as we have learned, the U.S. government decided it was “unsafe” for American audiences, even though they had planned to make a film for posterity, not just for the German audience.
In the ‘70s, the War Department turned over prints of the film to the National Archive, although the negative was destroyed. I had to create a whole new negative and we had to totally reconstruct the soundtrack because the original sound elements were also lost or destroyed.
That was already 30 years after the film was made. It had been sitting in the Archive ever since. Anyone could have gone in and did what I did, but no one had interest in restoring the film and the soundtrack and bringing it back to life.
After my mom died we were clearing out her apartment and we found these boxes and boxes of documents about the making of the film. We found a 16mm print that had been sitting there for all these decades which was of no use for the restoration, but it taught us another little piece of the story.
To get around the accusation that the government was outright banning or censoring the film, they made a few 16mm prints that they stocked in what was called the “Signal Corps Library.” If you knew it was there and you were a teacher, you could get a copy of it.
But we also know that Justice Jackson tried to get a copy of the film to show to a private meeting of the New York Bar Association and the government wouldn’t let him have a print. You could call him the main star of the film! It goes to show you the length to which the government went to keep the film from entering the public discourse.
Given the wide availability of handheld media devices, photographic evidence is quite common today — Rodney King and Abu Ghraib being two of the most notorious examples. What was the status of photographic evidence in when the Nuremberg Tribunals began?
Schulberg: My father and uncle had found quite a lot of film that they thought they could use in the courtroom and they started working hand-in-hand with the prosecution. I know from my father’s letters that a number of the lawyers who worked for him were very skeptical about this because it had never been done before. It was really a kind of revolutionary notion to introduce moving pictures — a lot of them — as evidence.
My father wrote home to my mother saying, “We had a hell of a time convincing the stuffy attorneys about the value of our film materials but now they’re calling us.” He was so pleased and relieved when he could give them film that shows a member of the Schutzstaffel (SS) at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp who claimed he was never there. So the prosecution overcame their initial skepticism, I’d say. In that same letter, he said that Justice Jackson had called to congratulate them.
Why is Nuremberg relevant today?
Schulberg: Back in 1948, my father named this puzzle, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, because they were so concerned that the film might seem dated. The trial was over in ’46, and they were worried that people wouldn’t think it’s relevant anymore. The film is being shown in U.S. theaters for the first time now, more than 60 years after it was made, and oddly enough, it’s very contemporary.
There was a huge gap in time between the Nuremberg Trials and the first of the International Tribunals starting with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the early 90s. That was really the first time the international community came together to try to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes, and so on.
The notion of “Crimes Against Humanity” was one of the areas of the law that was really pioneered at Nuremberg. This was a relatively new area of law, and precedent is being established as we speak. The International Criminal Court (ICC) only began to function in 2003, and it handled only a very few cases.
The film is coming at a very opportune moment because this year the ICC is finally getting recognition. It’s finally getting the attention of jurists around the world — and of governments around the world.
So this film, I think, is going to be of great interest to Americans who maybe don’t know about Nuremberg, don’t understand its connection to the modern trials that have been launched in the last decade. It’s the basis, really, for the International Criminal Courts.
There are currently 114 states that are party to the ICC, but unfortunately, not the United States. It’s such a shame — we played such an important role at Nuremberg. We played a very important role laying the foundation for the ICC by working with many of the countries to create the Rome Treaty that established the court — and President Clinton signed that treaty.
The Bush administration tried to distance itself from the ICC, and the Senate never ratified the treaty, so we’re not a party to the ICC. We’re not subject to its jurisdiction.
What do you make of the irony that Germany — and not the United States — signed off on the ICC?
Schulberg: One of the most innovative areas of the law that was developed at Nuremberg was the notion of the “Crime of Aggression” — Count One of the Indictment — that Justice Jackson cared most deeply about and that he personally prosecuted. This whole notion of what constitutes aggression is something that the ICC and the international justice community as a whole — including very good people in the Obama administration — have been wrestling with.
It is a very tricky issue because sometimes you intervene militarily in order to prevent human rights abuse. Sometimes an act of aggression is a pre-emptive act, and sometimes it’s a true act of aggression. Because there’s a huge amount of disagreement about this, including people who feel that the United States should not have invaded Iraq. This is an area that has been actively debated.
I think what is fascinating for people today who are interested in this debate is to go and see Nuremberg, because you see how this area of the law was developed, how dramatically the case was proven. There are two areas of the law that were really advanced at Nuremberg — one is regarding the legal definition of and the evidence required to prove aggression — that was a big leap forward that was made at Nuremberg. The other was “Crimes Against Humanity.”
There had been a long history — several century’s worth of precedent about what constitutes a war crime. There have been traditionally laws and customs of war, but the notion of “Crimes Against Humanity” was really a much newer area of the law. That includes the crime of genocide, which then became codified separately.
The Crime of Aggression, the very act of starting a war, is perhaps the greatest crime of all. What's so touching, I must say, reading about the trial, reading about Justice Jackson, the ideals of the other prosecutors — they really thought that by holding this trial, that they were going to stop all future wars. They really thought that if you held military leaders accountable — not the little people, but the leaders at the top — that you would set such an example that no one would dare follow in those footsteps.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the cure-all that they had hoped. But that doesn’t mean it’s still not worth pursuing those ideals: “The force of law” instead of “The law of force.”
These are the really important and interesting groundbreaking elements that you can see emerging from the Nuremberg Trials. It is very dramatic. Nuremberg is a great anti-war film; it is one of the great anti-war films of all time. I think that’s ultimately its most important message, “Its Lesson for Today.”
By: Anita Katz 01/20/11 6:00 PM
Released and restored after a decades-long shelving, “Nuremberg” was made during the denazification period to serve as an official account of Nazi atrocities and of the landmark trial where chief Nazi perpetrators were judged and sentenced.
Originally shown only in postwar Germany, this 1948 documentary still makes a weighty, stirring impression.
A product of both artistic and governmental design, the film was written and directed by Stuart Schulberg, who worked with the Office of Strategic Services’ John Ford-headed Field Photographic Branch.
Schulberg was assigned, along with his future-screenwriter brother, Budd, to assemble Nazi-related footage that could be used as evidence against the Nazis on trial in Nuremberg.
The project also included filming the trial itself, to show that the trial was fair and to document the historic 1945-46 proceedings, which established the foundation for future trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The finished documentary, officially titled “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” combines all of the above into a weaving of Nazi history, Nazi horror, and post-Nazi efforts to determine what happened and punish the guilty by a means affirming the return of civility and reason.
Long unreleased in the United States for reasons never identified concretely (a Cold War mentality objecting to the depiction of the Soviets, our then-allies, as good guys may be responsible), the restored film’s visual and audio improvements are the result of efforts by Sandra Schulberg (Schulberg’s daughter) and Josh Waletzky. Narration by Liev Schreiber has been added.
As one might expect from this combination of courtroom action, history lesson, and documentary technique, the film suffers from tonal incongruities.
But altogether, it is a comprehensive, compelling account of the first Nuremberg trial and the events prompting it.
A gold mine of substance is packed into just 80 minutes, from Hitler’s country-by-country conquest plan to images of rubble-strewn postwar Europe. The death-camp footage, some of it taken from Nazi reels, remains horrifying and serves what still feels like an urgent purpose in terms of substantiating the charges against those responsible. (The defendants, who collectively lie, blame their offenses on dead superiors, and express remorse that can’t disguise their hope for leniency, include Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and Hermann Goring, among others.)
Also notable are the statements of prosecutor Robert H. Jackson, who calls the trial a “warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war.”
While it’s hard not to reflect sadly on how humankind would conduct itself in the 20th century’s ensuing decades, there was indeed something constructive and momentous about what transpired at Nuremberg, and this film deserves applause for presenting it.
Three and a half stars
e release of Pare Lorentz's documentary entitled Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today offers modern audiences a chance to witness footage that was never released in the United States but was shown throughout Germany following World War II. This documentary is also important because it commemorates the first time that film was actually used as part of the prosecution's plan to indict the Nazis with material taken from their very own film archives.
Finding incriminating footage was easier said than done (some of it was actively being destroyed by Nazi sympathizers). Budd Schulberg(who had written "What Makes Sammy Run?" in 1941) apprehendedLeni Riefenstahl as a material witness at her country home inKitzbühl, Austria. He subsequently took her to the Nuremberg editing room to help the OSS team identify the Nazi figures in her films as well as other German film material they had captured. His brother,Stuart Schulberg, who took possession of the photo archive ofHeinrich Hoffmann (Hitler’s personal photographer), became the unit’s expert on still photo evidence. As Stuart Schulberg wrote:
“The greatest technical difficulty involved the use of original recorded testimony from the trial itself. It was important, if the film’s authenticity was to be convincing, that Goering and his colleagues speak their lame lines of defense in their own, well-known voices...It became necessary to secure the wax recordings of the proceedings stored in Nuremberg, to re-record the pertinent words on film and then to synchronize that sound recording with the lip movements of the respective defendants...Many weeks after the original request, the records arrived from Nuremberg. The discs were re-recorded on film in half of one day. About a month later the meticulous job of ‘dubbing’ the original voices of the defendants was completed.”
Stuart Schulberg and Joseph Zigman's 78-minute film was first shown to an audience in Stuttgart on November 21, 1948. The reason the film was never shown in the United States may well have been because its producers could not negotiate a distribution deal with any of the Hollywood film studios.
Watching the documentary today offers a fascinating look at a critical moment in the 20th century when key Nazis were tried before an international court. Considering how easily people throw the word "Nazi" around in today's media, it's especially important for younger generations to see what the real thing looks like. It also offers some terrible but valuable insights into what some Americans did at Abu Ghraib.
The "today" in Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky's restoration of Stuart Schulberg's (Sandra's father's) documentary is 1948; but today we are the first Americans to see this wrenching film about the rise and progress of Nazism and the Nuremberg Trials. The film has been shown since last year at various American film festivals and will be seen in the San Francisco Bay Area for a limited time starting January 21st.
Stuart Schulberg, with the assistance of his brother Budd (screenwriter of such classics as "On the Waterfront"), made the 80-minute film at the request of the US War Department and John Ford, then working for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). Its aim was to record the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals and to show the Germans how their nation had got to where it was after the war.
Germans did indeed flock to the film (it would be fascinating to hear their honest reactions), but it was never released in America. The reasons are obscure: was it because, in 1948, the Soviet Union, partner in the trials, was no longer America's ally? Or because the US didn't want ugly truths about Germany to interfere with the Marshall Plan? Or simply because the War Department, State Department, and Army didn't want the American citizenry to dwell on the past? Nobody knows.
The film was judged lost, until Sandra Schulberg discovered a German-language copy in her parents' home and resolved to restore it. Synchronizing the visuals with the trial's transcripts (narrated by Liev Schreiber), she has achieved this remarkable task.
The first part of the film was based on two other Schulberg documentaries, which were shown during the trial: the four-hour "The Nazi Plan," and the one-hour "Nazi Concentration Camps." These were created from footage that the Nazis themselves had made and that were in the process of being destroyed by surviving Nazis. The second part consists of the trial itself, including excerpts from the opening and closing statements by the lead judge, Justice Robert H. Jackson. Twenty-two prisoners, among them Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess, and Albert Speer, sit in the courtroom, many wearing dark glasses against the glare of the lights used for filming. (Though the trial lasted the better part of a year, from November 1945 to October 1946, only some 25 hours of film were shot.)
The film's first segment chronicles the rise of the Nazi party, including the Reichstag fire and German rearmament; and the progress of the war—the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria and occupation of Czechoslovakia, then the conquest of Poland, Belgium, France, etc. Cynically, Hitler declares his friendship with each country before invading it. Russian POW's are starved and frozen; the Polish intelligentsia, clergy, and nobility are murdered; the Czech village of Lidice is liquidated in reprisal for the assassination of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Though much of this footage is familiar to history buffs and people who see a lot of documentaries, it's nevertheless hard, at times impossible, to watch.
The elimination of the Jews forms an important part of the first segment. Again, much of the material is familiar though nonetheless shocking. "We knew the people were dead when the shrieking stopped," says one Nazi about an improvised gas chamber.
Finally we hear the Nazi prisoners' defense statements. Some simply deny their guilt, or blame each other, including Hitler. Göring claims that he didn't know that the Jews were being exterminated, though he admits that "certain excesses" had occurred. Several Nazis admit their guilt and shame, calling for a repudiation of dictatorship and hope for the future. The verdicts are then read out, one by one. Three defendants are acquitted; the rest are sentenced to long prison terms, or, in many cases, to death by hanging. (Göring cheated the executioners by committing suicide.)
What are we today to make of this document? Some of the subtitles and, in fact, the title, show their age (who today would talk about a "lesson for today"?), and so does the momentous score, created by John Califra from cues by original composer Otto Borgmann (ironically, the composer of scores for Nazi propaganda films).
Much of the historical material, as mentioned, is familiar. What seems different - and bracing - is the belief in justice and its swift administration. It's reassuring to know that many, though by no means all, of the Nazi perpetrators didn't get away with it.
It would be better yet if there were more footage of the courtroom proceedings, but we can take pleasure in the fact that we are among the first Americans to see this material at all.
One of the biggest growth industries in film in the past several years is the so-called "outrage documentary," a nonfiction production that points out a social, economic, or similar public policy problem, or problem-to-be, that needs to be addressed immediately. The guiding principles of this particular strain of advocacy film are: 1) The more outrageous the better, and 2) Act now or the world as we know it will crumble.
Global warming (An Inconvenient Truth), predatory Wall Street financiers (Inside Job), unhealthy foodstuffs (Food, Inc.), racial prejudice against illegal immigrants (9500 Liberty), nuclear proliferation (Countdown to Zero), poor public education (Waiting for Superman), poor public health care (Sicko), unrepresentative government (Gerrymandering), America's unjust war in Vietnam (The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers), America's unjust war in Iraq (Taxi to the Dark Side), and the effects of greed and corruption on the democratic process (Casino Jack and the United States of Money) are just a few of the ills covered by recent outrage docs. Seemingly no subject is too far-fetched or too insignificant, as long as it exposes a wrong to be righted.
Now it's time to revisit the granddaddy of all outrage docs, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, the history of the Nuremberg war crimes trials (1945-1946) of German Nazis conducted by the Allied occupation forces after World War II. Beside this film, commissioned by the US War Department and written by Hollywood screenwriters (and brothers) Budd and Stuart Schulberg under the direction of documentarian Pare Lorentz, practically all other documentaries on the subject of injustice come up short.
In grainy black and white, a group of ashen-faced, middle-age men sit in a heavily guarded courtroom, and the Nazis' own government-made documentaries — meticulously detailing their crimes against humanity — begin to unspool. We've seen most of the images because they've been reused in various docs in the years since, but in 1945 this was brand new material, captured footage, the proud record of the Master Race conducting its business: hostility toward civilians, death camps, slavery, institutionalized racism and intolerance, war profiteering, and wholesale murder. The film offers 78 minutes' worth of horror and guilt, with the condemned conspirators having fashioned their own celluloid noose.
This timely revival of the film originally titled Nürnberg und seine Lehre — restored by Stuart Schulberg's daughter Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky and with a narration by actor Liev Schreiber — is about more than piles of corpses and bombed-out buildings. If nothing else, the words of Nuremberg prosecutor (and US Supreme Court justice) Robert H. Jackson should stifle Holocaust-deniers: "There is no count in the indictment that cannot be proved by books and records." But let's also remember the book burners, and the fact that defendant Walter Funk's Reichsbank claimed all the gold wrenched from victims' mouths. Learn the history, read your Orwell, and never forget. Sandra Schulberg will speak at select January 21 screenings at Lanndmark's Shattuck in Berkeley.
"We will show you their films" So said Justice Robert Jackson during his opening remarks at Nuremberg, setting the stage not only for the historic prosecution but also for film history. After so much subsequent repackaging, it's bracing being returned to this initial use of the Nazi archive as hard evidence in Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today, the documentary produced by Pare Lorentz and the Schulberg brothers for the Office of Strategic Services in 1948. Though it screened widely in postwar Germany,Nuremberg never made it to American screens — one wonders whether the film's vision of US-USSR cooperation wasn't as much a stumbling block as its images of atrocities. WhileNuremberg won't soon replace Eichmann in Jerusalem as a probing account of the war tribunals, this crisp restoration remains a fascinating document of the moral condemnation of Nazi Germany in formation. Modern viewers may be surprised, for instance, by how long it takes before the Holocaust (still not called by that name, of course) is invoked. History casts a withering eye on Russian and American prosecutors denouncing military aggressions and needless civilian deaths, but one is nonetheless struck and even moved by what Nurembergrepresents — specifically, the need to give a rational account of the terms of the peace, and to begin remembering. As with all the films produced by Lorenz, Nuremberg benefits from great rhetorical economy and fluid pacing. Now one only wishes that John Huston's 1946 Let There Be Light — a harrowing postwar document of mentally disturbed veterans also produced for (and then suppressed by) the Army — would receive the same treatment. (1:18) (Goldberg)
January 18, 2011 7:00 am by John Seal
Also opening at the Shattuck Cinemas on Friday (in this case for an exclusive one-week run), the recently restored Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today is an important and still relevant U.S. War Department documentary from 1946. A tale of justice renewed and restored,Nuremberg blends footage shot during the trial of the major German war criminals under the jurisdiction of the International Military Tribunal with Nazi film recovered, ironically, by the OSS, and provides a brief but damning summary of the crimes for which the suspects were charged. It is, in short, a bittersweet record of a time when the international rule of law was reaching its apex. Kudos to Sandra Schulberg, daughter of director Stuart Schulberg, for restoring her father’s film — which, as per its subtitle, still has lessons to teach us today.
Sophie Brickman, Chronicle Staff Writer
In the last month of production before the release of his documentary film that brought viewers into the Nuremberg courtroom to witness the sentencing of 22 senior Nazi officials, Stuart Schulberg, like any slightly obsessive artist, was still working on his title.
First, he chose "Day of Wrath." Then, "A New Day Dawns." But, on the final shooting script, dated April 1948 - which his daughter, Sandra, found years after his death - he'd crossed that out and penciled in "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today." He was concerned that too much time had passed since the 1945 trial, and wanted to stress its relevance to German audiences.
Schulberg was more prescient than he realized.
Now, 62 years later and newly restored by Sandra Schulberg and sound designer Josh Waletzky, "Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today" is making its U.S. theatrical premiere (it opens Friday in the Bay Area ), complete with footage of unspeakable horrors - piles of bodies, emaciated prisoners - and courtroom drama.
American officials initially repressed the film's release for reasons undocumented, though it's believed they were wary of stoking anti-German sentiment in the diplomatically delicate postwar years.
"It's ironic that I inherited this challenge," said Schulberg, a film producer and Columbia University professor. She first saw the film at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival, and after sorting through boxes of her father's documents and letters, decided to restore it.
"I never had an interest in dealing with - I'd say I actually had an aversion to - dealing with the Holocaust in my own work," she said. "But it seemed very obvious that this work needed to be done. It's a labor of love."
For her father, who served in the Marine Corps, the Holocaust was inextricably linked to his work. In 1945, the director John Ford sent him to Europe as part of the OSS Field Photographic Branch to find film evidence to use in the Nuremberg trials. Stuart's older brother, Budd - a former Navy lieutenant who later wrote "On the Waterfront"- joined him two months later.
The story of the making of the original film is full of all the drama and intrigue of a John Ford Western. On their hunt across Europe for material, the brothers found burning cans of film set ablaze moments before they arrived.
"There was a sense that people had been tipped off," Budd Schulberg later told his niece. When the Russians found film reels before the Americans and didn't want to hand them over, Budd Schulberg, like any patriotic citizen, got them drunk.
The team edited the recovered evidence into a four-hour film for the prosecutors, and in 1946, Stuart Schulberg was commissioned to make a documentary about the trial, to be used in the re-education and de-Nazification effort in Europe. "Nuremberg" premiered in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1948.
Though the complete trial was recorded on audio, only 25 hours of film were shot inside the courtroom. The original film contained narration that masked the voices of those in the courtroom, but Sandra Schulberg and Waletzky remastered the soundtrack so viewers can now hear Justice Robert Jackson as he makes his powerful opening and closing statements and Nazi leader Albert Speer as he talks about the repercussions of "following orders blindly."
Sandra Schulberg did not change a single frame of the original film, and hardly tweaked her father's script at all, merely adding a few explanatory notes here and there for contemporary viewers. Liev Schreiber took over the role of narrator.
Sandra Schulberg is now deeply enmeshed in the family work, which has proved more germane to the present day than she ever imagined.
She recently translated the film into Spanish and attended a screening in Guatemala, expecting a tiny crowd. Two thousand people showed up. She speculates that has to do with the 2005 discovery of Guatemala's National Police archives, which included incriminating information about the government's involvement in the country's civil war, during which 200,000 people died or disappeared. The cache of information has lead to the prosecution of former policemen.
"They see Nuremberg as a model," she said.
Remembering the days when she first started to toy with the idea of taking on the work, which she refers to as her "inheritance," she smiles.
"I was concerned people would say it was dated, or that this project was going nowhere," she said. "But it's the other way entirely. It's as if these issues were ripped from today's headlines. They resonate."
by michael fox , correspondent
Stuart Schulberg, a Jew working for the great director John Ford in the U.S. government’s film unit at the end of World War II, was charged with finding German-shot footage to be presented at the Nuremberg trial of the top surviving Nazi brass.
Speed was essential, as Germans with access to photographic evidence were wasting no time destroying it.
Although the Nazis’ vast trove of documents proved invaluable to prosecutors, Schulberg’s compilation films — “Nazi Concentration Camps” and the four-and-a-half-hour “The Nazi Plan” — arguably had the greatest impact on the courtroom.
In conjunction with all of that, Schulberg (who died in 1979) was assigned by the U.S. War Department to make the official film of the 10-month trial. His concise yet comprehensive work, “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today,” was screened widely in Germany upon its completion in 1948.
But the film was quietly shelved in the United States and forgotten. For the last five years, Sandra Schulberg, the filmmaker’s daughter and a veteran independent film producer, has devoted herself to giving “Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” a second life.
“I had many doubts along the way because it was so hard to raise the money, and people didn’t respond to the obvious historical mandate that it should be restored and shown,” Schulberg says in a phone interview from her East Coast home.
This terrifically crisp, crackling and invaluable documentary is opening at three Bay Area theaters Jan. 21, and another Jan. 28. The film’s run in the Bay Area is being co-presented by the Human Rights Center at U.C. Berkeley and the Goethe-Institut San Francisco. (The website http://www.nurembergfilm.org has a lot of interesting information about the film.)
“Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today” had its local premiere in October at the Mill Valley Film Festival, with Schulberg in person. She returns to the Bay Area and will speak at some screenings Jan. 21 to 23.
The 80-minute film is ostensibly a record of the trial, and Schulberg and filmmaker Josh Waletzky went to great lengths to enhance the film by replacing some narration with original audio of Justice Robert H. Jackson and the British, French and Russian prosecutors, as well as defendants Hermann Goering, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Albert Speer and others.
“What surprises me,” Schulberg says, “is that people who do know this material very well, who are experts on the cinematography of the Holocaust and who didn’t expect to learn anything from the film, had never heard the defendants speaking in the courtroom in response to cross-examination, or in their final summations, justifying or expressing recognition of what they’d done.”
In the course of depicting justice being served, the documentary uses the trial to frame the egregious history of the Third Reich from its beginnings through the Final Solution.
“As we get further away, the vast majority doesn’t know the details” of World War II, Schulberg observes.
Schulberg was conceived in Berlin during the blockade and born in Paris. Her father continued to make and supervise films in Germany and France through the mid-1950s, before returning to the U.S. and eventually signing on as TV newsman David Brinkley’s producer in Washington, D.C.
Schulberg hasn’t been able to unravel the mystery of why the film didn’t screen in the United States. One theory is that with the Cold War on, the government wanted all eyes on the Russians.
It is tempting to see veiled anti-Semitism as the real reason, given the State Department’s restrictions on the number of European Jews allowed into the U.S. in the 1930s and ’40s. In addition, recently declassified documents reveal U.S. efforts to camouflage or expunge the records of high-level Nazi figures — not scientists, mind you — and help them immigrate to this and other countries.
Schulberg won’t indulge in speculation, however.
“Regardless of whether there was a specific connection made between that policy of providing some refuge for some Nazis, the bigger-picture point was that the American government was trying to get the American people to focus on the Soviet threat and stop thinking about the Nazis,” she says.
“Nuremberg” opens Jan. 21 at the Opera Plaza Cinema in San Francisco, the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley and the Camera 3 in San Jose, and Jan. 28 at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. Producer Sandra Schulberg to speak at all screenings Jan. 21 in Berkeley and Jan. 22 in San Francisco, and some San Jose screenings Jan. 23.
Judith Gelman Myers
On October 13, more than 2,000 Guatemalans packed the Teatro Nacional in Guatemala City to see the 2009 Sandra Schulberg–Josh Waletzky restoration of the 1948 documentary Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, which opened last September in New York to rave reviews and is currently on a worldwide tour. For the Guatemalans, the film resonated because of the atrocities their own country endured in the early 1980s. Although the 1948 film was the official United States documentary about the Great War Criminals Trial in Nuremberg, until this year, it was only shown in German theaters.
For the first time in history—from November 1945 to October 1946—leaders of a Western nation were held to personal account for war crimes they had committed in the name of a state. The Nuremberg trial was so unique that Justice Robert Jackson, its architect and chief United States prosecutor, had the trial captured on film so that it would serve as a warning to future generations. The American government commissioned a documentary to be made about the trial, to show to a battered postwar world.
Under the auspices of the United States War Department and with direct input from Jackson, director Stuart Schulberg completed the documentary, which he entitled Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, in 1948. The film is organized around the four counts of the indictment against the Nazis and reconstructs the prosecution’s case as it unfolded during the trial, using film evidence presented in court as well as live trial footage. The film uses footage from evidentiary films that were presented at the Nuremberg trial. The result is a film that is at once shocking and intellectual, dispassionate and full of fury.
Nuremberg was shown throughout Germany in ’48 and ’49, giving viewers their first glimpse of what had actually taken place during the war. In preparation for the film’s distribution in America, Schulberg showed it to higher-ups at the War and State Departments. Without apparent explanation, officials decided that the film would not be released to American theaters. An outraged press protested, but to no avail. The Army quashed both the film and the reasons behind its suppression. (Speculation for the reasons include that the film was scheduled for release in the United States just as the Marshall Plan was being put into action, and the American Army felt the public wouldn’t support the plan if they saw the film; as of the film's release date, the Soviets were no longer our allies, a relationship contradicted by the film; a number of Army officials objected to the fact that soldiers were denied the right to claim they were just following orders. In addition, there was a great deal of conflict between the American Military Government in Berlin and the War Department in Washington over who would control production of the film.)
Nearly 60 years after Schulberg’s fateful meeting with the military, his daughter, Sandra Schulberg, found a print of the film in a corner cupboard in the family home. Then she found the documentation about its suppression. “When I heard that this film had never been released here, that the negative was lost, that it was buried all these years, I really felt it was a duty to restore it and bring it back,” she says.
As Schulberg didn’t want to change a frame of film, restoration in this case meant rebuilding the sound track. The original narration paraphrased what was being said in court; Schulberg wanted the audience to hear Jackson deliver the opening and closing himself and the defendants deliver their own denials. That involved not only the painstaking job of synchronizing sound to film but also re-recording the narrative track (delivered by Liev Schreiber in the restoration) and re-constructing sections of the musical track that could be integrated with the original.
The Schulberg–Waletzky restoration has ignited viewers’ passions. It is Sandra’s hope that screenings will be followed by panel discussions, as they have been in New York, where panelists have included Benjamin Ferencz, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trial of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen; Auschwitz survivor Ernest Michel, who served at the Nuremberg trial as a press correspondent for German newspapers (see interview); and Ambassador Stephen Rapp, ambassador-at-large on War Crimes issues, who speaks about the case law developed at Nuremberg as the foundation of today’s International Criminal Court.
Schulberg is currently promoting the film as well as working on a scholar’s edition DVD. Noting that the movie’s subtitle—Its Lesson for Today—was crafted in 1948, Schulberg reiterates its relevance for modern audiences: “This is a great antiwar film,” she says. Most viewers will agree with her.
For a schedule of national and international screening of the film, go to www.nurembergfilm.org.
Nuremberg Eyewitness: Ernest W. Michel
As it was getting dark, Ernest W. Michel crept into the forest with two of his friends. They waited till they were sure all was quiet, then slowly sneaked deeper and deeper into the woods. When he could only faintly hear the Nazis ordering their prisoners to continue on their death march, Michel ran through the trees until he was free for the first time after six years imprisonment in Paderborn, Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Seven months later, Michel—who had been kicked out of school at the age of 13 for being Jewish and whose parents had been selected for death as soon as they had entered the gates at Auschwitz—ascended to the press gallery to take his place beside Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite at the Great War Criminals Trial at Nuremberg. Michel had been hired as a reporter by DANA, the newly formed German press agency, and had gotten the Nuremberg assignment.
“The first time I come into the press gallery, 25 feet away from me sits Hermann Goering,” Michel recalls. “I felt like jumping down and screaming, ‘Why did you do this to me? Why did you kill my parents?’ But obviously I couldn’t do that, so I ate it on the inside.”
For eight months, he published under the byline “Ernest Michel, DANA Staff Correspondent (formerly prisoner No. 104995 at Auschwitz concentration camp).”
In the camps, Michel had made a vow to his parents and his friend Walter, who had not escaped: He would bear witness to the horrors he had survived so that no one would ever have to face them again. For the next 60 years, from his reporting job in a tiny town in Michigan to his position as executive vice president of UJA-Federation in New York, from organizing The World Gathering of Holocaust Survivors in Jerusalem to writing an autobiography, entitled Promises Kept: One Man's Journey Against Incredible Odds (Barricade Books), he spoke out again and again.
One of those speaking engagements was at the New York Film Festival press screening ofNuremberg: Its Lesson for Today. It was the second time the 87-year-old Michel had seen the film, and he was so moved that he was visibly shaking. In the foreword to Promises Kept, author Leon Uris writes, “Ernie Michel was chosen to live by a force beyond his own power.” Perhaps, but perhaps it was Mr. Michel who forced himself to live even beyond his own power, continued to speak out even though it made him tremble six decades after the fact.
The function of propaganda is…not to make an objective study of the truth, in so far as it favors the enemy, and then set it before the masses with academic fairness; its task is to serve our own right, always and unflinchingly.
—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
All governments make propaganda. The difference between totalitarian government propaganda and the democratic kind is that the former has a monopoly on truth; its version of reality cannot be challenged. Past, present, and future are what the rulers say they are. Which is why, from the official point of view, there is no stigma attached to the word “propaganda” in totalitarian societies. Nazi Germany had a Ministry of Volk Enlightenment and Propaganda, and the Soviet Union a Department for Agitation and Propaganda.
The idea that rulers should impose their own realities exists, at least as an aspiration, in democracies too. It was nicely summed up by a US government official not so long ago who stated that “we [the Bush administration] create our own reality.”1 But democratic governments and parties are not supposed to dictate the truth. We expect partisanship from our politicians; they can try to make their case. But the word “propaganda” has a negative connotation. It smacks of coercion, or official lying. And so propaganda cannot be called that, but must be disguised as “news,” or “information,” or “entertainment” (Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver). The propaganda department of the US government during World War IIwas called the Office of War Information, and on several occasions during the last Iraq war heroic myths were presented as news stories.
This is not an argument for moral equivalence. One can be arrested for exposing official lies in democracies, but the chances of that happening are a great deal slimmer than under dictatorships, where the fate of whistle-blowers and naysayers is often far worse than jail. Nor is it an argument against governments trying to propagate a message. This can be necessary to mobilize people behind a difficult but essential enterprise (fighting Nazi Germany, say). Perhaps the masking of propaganda is an inevitable bit of hypocrisy in a democratic society, even though slipping fictions into news stories as facts cannot be condoned under any circumstances.
Some propaganda is not only made for a good cause, but can be factually true. But if so, can we still call it propaganda? And if it is for a good cause, should we still mind that it is propaganda? If it is also good art (pictures commissioned by churches or kings or the Cuban Communist Party, for example), should we care about the cause? Some of these questions, and more, are raised by the current release of two fascinating documentaries, one the reconstruction of a US government film made in 1948 to justify the Nuremberg war crimes trials, and one about a perverse and vicious Nazi propaganda film, made in 1942, that was never completed or shown. Neither the Nuremberg nor the Nazi movie could be classified as great art, even though A Film Unfinished, the documentary about the Nazi movie, is certainly an extraordinary accomplishment.
The idea for Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was born in a special film unit of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) led by John Ford, the famous director. His associates were Navy lieutenant Budd Schulberg (who went on to write On the Waterfront, among other things) and Budd’s brother Stuart, a Marine Corps sergeant. The original idea was to compile visual evidence about the Third Reich to help Justice Robert H. Jackson, the US prosecutor at Nuremberg. The material was culled from Nazi propaganda films, newsreels, private movies, and indeed anything the fimmakers could lay their hands on that hadn’t been destroyed by the Germans at the end of the war.
This actually resulted in three films. Two were shown in the courtoom, entitled The Nazi Plan and Nazi Concentration Camps. These were not released to the general public. A third film, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, produced by Pare Lorentz, who had written documentaries during the New Deal, was directed by Stuart Schulberg. Now brilliantly restored by his daughter Sandra and Josh Waletzky, it was shown only to German audiences at the time. It combined material from the films shown at the trial with new footage shot of the trial proceedings by cameramen from the Army Signal Corps. The movie begins with part of Jackson’s opening statement about the trial being a way to make “peace more secure” and serve as a “warning against all those who plan to wage an aggressive war.”
Much of the film will be quite familiar to anyone who has an interest in Nazi history: the rallies, the speeches, the Blitzkrieg, the ghastly scenes of corpses being dumped into the mass graves of Belsen. The most unusual footage is the only scene not screened in the courtroom at Nuremberg, of a car pumping carbon monoxide into a sealed room. This improvised gas chamber was filmed by an SS commander who used such methods to kill Jews as well as mental patients.
The reconstruction of the 1948 documentary, which had only survived with a German soundtrack, is a remarkable feat: testimonies in the trial had to be transferred from wax recordings and synchronized with images on the screen; the score was recreated by the composer John Califra from musical cues jotted down by the original composer, Hans-Otto Borgmann, who, curiously, had had a previous career writing music for such Nazi propaganda movies as Hitlerjunge Quex (1933).
Although no doubt useful as a historical document for future generations who will be less familiar with images of the Third Reich, Stuart Schulberg’s film is especially interesting for what it tells us about the time when it was made: that short period between the Nazi war crimes trials, undertaken in the hope of building a better, more just world, and the beginning of the cold war, when harder-nosed policies prevailed. Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was a propaganda film, but the exact nature of the propaganda was contested from the beginning. This contest reflected bureaucratic battles within the US government, as well as political differences about priorities in the new postwar order.
Robert A. McClure, director of the US military government’s Information Control Division, saw the film as a tool to teach the Germans a lesson. It was to be part of the denazification programs set up by the Allied occupation governments, the cinematic counterpart, as it were, of forcing German citizens to tour the concentration camps and see what their country had done. The producer, Pare Lorentz, however, had a wider, more idealistic vision, shared by Justice Jackson and the War Department in Washington, D.C. The lesson for today had to be a lesson to us all. The trial, with its newly created laws, was meant to be a moral exercise, a beacon of justice to light the way to a better future, and the film, as Schulberg and Lorentz conceived it, was supposed to justify that goal.
In the short run, the War Department won this battle over messages. Despite various attempts by McClure and the military government in Germany to produce alternative scripts and make a different movie, one less tied to the trial itself and more to Nazi crimes in general, the Lorentz/Schulberg version eventually got made. By dividing the film into sections following the main indictments at Nuremberg—war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace—the documentary makes the case for the prosecution, without considering the legal problems of victors judging the vanquished according to laws that did not exist when the crimes were committed.2 Scenes of Hermann Göring running rings around Jackson in his cross- examination are not shown. Nor is any attention paid to Allied war crimes, such as the terror bombing of civilian populations, or to the fact that Stalin’s Soviet judges were hardly in a position to represent impartial justice or to prosecute crimes against humanity. The main Soviet judge, Iona Nikitchenko, had presided over some of Stalin’s worst show trials during the purges in the 1930s. He told his colleagues in Nuremberg that impartiality was just a waste of time. But challenging the Nuremberg trial in any way was the precise opposite of what the film was intended to do.
Since this movie was supposed to have a universal message, it was slated to go into general release in the US and elsewhere. Even though the message of the film accorded perfectly with Jackson’s views, he was worried about the use of Nazi propaganda material. Wouldn’t it look too convincing to the uninformed viewer? “Unless,” he said, “the audience is informed as to the falsity of the claims made in the propaganda films, the films really are what they were intended to be—good propaganda for Hitler.”3 It is difficult to see his point from our better-informed perspective today, but Jackson made sure that the films were carefully tailored to avoid giving Americans the wrong impression.
In the end, Americans were never shown the movie at all. It was good enough for the Germans, who flocked to see it in 1948 and 1949. But as the cold war began, Berlin was blockaded by the Soviets, the Marshall Plan gathered speed, and priorities changed. A new Communist enemy had to be faced. It was not expedient to stir up further American hostility against the Germans by paying too much attention to Nazi atrocities. Enthusiasm for war crimes trials began to wane in official quarters. And so, in the medium term, the line taken by the military government, that the lessons of Nuremberg should be confined to the Germans, won the day after all.
But now, after the cold war, the original purpose of the film has come back into its own, with an added twist of history. When it was made, and the trials were still going on, the persecution and genocide of the Jews were an important part of the Nazi story, but not yet the crux of it. This was before the publication of Anne Frank’s diary, before the Eichmann trial, before the Holocaust came to define evil in modern history, or was even used as a common term at all. The main purpose of the film was to warn the world against waging aggressive war. Now that the Holocaust is the most familiar, and in many cases just about the only thing many Americans know about World War II, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today will largely be seen as a warning against racism. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just shows how history lessons change with the times, regardless of the intentions of the people who originally conceived them.
One of the things Budd Schulberg turned up in the fall of 1948, from an archive in Soviet-occupied Babelsberg, site of the famous UFA movie studios, was a two-reel film shot by German cameramen in the Warsaw ghetto. Presumably this was from the same cache that was uncovered by East Germans less than ten years years later, part of an unfinished Nazi movie made in 1942, entitled Das Ghetto. The ghetto occupied less than 3 percent of the city land. Some 450,000 Jews were squeezed into filthy tenements, often without water, heat, or sanitation. By the time the ghetto was liquidated in April 1943, 100,000 had died of hunger and disease. That the movie had been made for propaganda is clear. One of the surviving German cameramen, named Willy Wist, admitted as much during an investigation in the 1960s into the deeds of a former SS commandant of the “Jewish residential district.” He said, “Of course we knew it had a propagandistic purpose.” But he claimed not to have known what that purpose was. Since the film was never completed, we still don’t know for sure.
A scene from A Film Unfinished, Yael Hersonski’s documentary about a 1942 Nazi propaganda film on the Warsaw Ghetto
The discovery, in the late 1990s, of outtakes from Das Ghetto revealed that many scenes in this “documentary” were actually staged. Over and over, neatly dressed Jews are made to walk past emaciated figures dying in the streets. Crowds are shown being violently dispersed by Jewish ghetto police wielding clubs. A plump young woman posing as a waitress in a luxurious restaurant—filled with other carefully selected Jewish extras dancing and eating lavish meals—is filmed standing outside, ignoring a skeletal person begging for a scrap of food. Sleek gentlemen in fur coats are lined up next to people in rags. Men and women, casting terrified looks at the camera, are made to jump up and down naked in a ritual bath.4 The diaries of Adam Cherniakow, head of the Jewish Council, describe how the Nazi film crew staged scenes in his own apartment, with someone impersonating him having meetings with men dressed up as Orthodox Jews.
The footage also contains horrifying scenes that we now know were part of daily life in the ghetto: whimpering children being forced by policemen to shake out a few bits of food from their ragged clothes, emaciated corpses being piled into mass graves. We almost never see any Germans, but it is enough to glimpse the faces of people passing the camera, full of terror and loathing, to know that they are there. As soon as the filming, which took thirty days, was over, Cherniakow was ordered to draw up lists of people to be deported to the camps. Almost none of them survived, including Cherniakow himself, who knew what awaited the Jews in Treblinka and took cyanide.
The question remains why this propaganda film was made, and why it was never finished. Turning one’s own crimes into propaganda is, after all, an eccentric thing to do, even for the Nazis. Perhaps the Germans wanted to convince people that the terrible conditions in “Jewish residential areas” were the fault of the Jews themselves, of their rich and callous leaders, and of their brutal ghetto police. If even the Jews treated their own people like Untermenschen, then the Nazis had the perfect right to remove this blight from the world. Most probably it was something along those lines. But why did they feel the need to make this case? Why did they even wish to show the horrors of the ghetto in the first place?
It may have been part of the systematic humiliation of their victims, before rushing in for the kill. Such humiliation is often the prelude to mass murder: think of the Serbian rape camps in Bosnia, or the horrors visited by Hindus and Muslims upon one another in 1947, or the massacres in China, Cambodia, and Rwanda, among many other places. The desire to degrade people before killing them probably speaks against any notions of inherent “exterminationist” mentalities.5 Rather, it suggests that people have to overcome certain barriers before they can exterminate fellow human beings willingly. First they must destroy their victims’ dignity and reduce them to groveling wrecks, no longer quite human. The film may have been made with that purpose in mind. We know that the Germans treated the Warsaw ghetto as a type of zoo, with special tours laid on for curious visitors, who were permitted to lash out at the wretched denizens with whips for their amusement.6 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto came from all classes and nations. Some had been German citizens. The more the victim resembles the murderer, in culture and background, the greater the need for degradation, hence, possibly, the peculiar cruelty of civil wars.
In any case, one of the great merits of Yael Hersonski’s A Film Unfinished is that she doesn’t press any answers onto the viewer. She doesn’t pretend to know precisely what the Nazis were thinking when they commissioned or made this awful film. What interests her is not to make a particular political or moral statement, even though politics may have inspired a certain line of cinematic inquiry. Hersonski, an Israeli in her thirties, is after something else, which has to do with the nature of cinema, with being a witness, with recording reality, and how it affects filmmakers as well as the audience. In her own words:
What I’m fascinated by is how [the Germans] documented their own evil. That’s fascinating to me because there is this cliché, a truthful one, about filmmaking as an act of observing, like a peeping tom. It’s not voyeurism, but standing there and staring. 7
Having grown up with films and photographs of the Holocaust, she fears that we have become numb to the images of horror. She writes: “I mean, we see it as far away, black and white images of history, as dry illustrations, as objective documentation—as allegedly objective documentation—like it got done by itself.” What she demonstrates with great finesse is how subjective our perceptions actually are. She shows the same footage from utterly different points of view: that of the cameraman, Wist, whose recorded testimony is read by an actor (Wist died in 1999), and that of several survivors of the ghetto who are now living in Israel. We watch the survivors watching the film, sometimes covering their eyes when the pictures (or the memories) become too painful. Their comments are mixed with readings from ghetto diaries, including Cherniakow’s.
The cameraman, an owlish-looking man in glasses, whose own image suddenly appears in one of the outtakes of the ghetto streets, as though by accident, does not come across as a deliberate liar, but as a man who lived his life in shocked denial. He was, in his own word, “shattered” by the experience, and tried to distance himself from it as much as he could afterward. Aware of the “terrible conditions” in the ghetto, he claims that he never had any inkling of the ultimate fate awaiting the Jews. They themselves had no idea, he recalls with great conviction, even though his contacts with the Jews can hardly have been intimate. When it comes to Wist’s own complicity in acts of sadism, such as the filming of naked people forced to humiliate themselves and others in the ritual bath, he hides behind technicalities, talking about the difficulty of filming in low light.
The survivors, filmed by Hersonski, mostly stare at the images in numbed silence, afraid, as one of them says, of recognizing her own mother in the crowd. One of the women can’t bear to look at the piles of corpses being dropped into a great hole in the ground, like rubbish in a garbage dump. She explains that when she lived in the ghetto, as a young girl, she grew so used to such things that it hardly affected her anymore, except once, when she tripped over a corpse and found herself with her face pressed against the face of a dead man. The memory of her mother comforting her with the extraordinary luxury of a crust of bread and a speck of jam still brings tears to her eyes. And she cries now when she watches the film. “Today,” she says, “I am human. Today I can cry again. I am so glad that I can cry and I am human.”
And what about us, the viewers who were neither victims nor complicit in the crimes? In some ways, this is the most painful question raised by Hersonski’s film, because there is an element of voyeurism in watching atrocities, whether we like it or not, and yet it is important to be reminded of man’s capacity for inhumanity, and not to forget what happened in the past. I can remember a debate in the German press almost twenty years ago, when an exhibition about the Holocaust was held at a villa in Wannsee, outside Berlin, the very spot where the logistics of genocide had been planned on a cold morning in January 1942 by brandy-drinking Nazi officials. Photographs were displayed on the villa’s walls of cowering women, stripped of their clothes, lined up in front of freshly dug pits in Poland and Lithuania moments before being shot. The pictures were taken by German killers, as mementos, a last humiliation before the murder of their victims.
Should we be watching this now? Should these women be humiliated once again by our gaze? Weren’t we all being turned into Peeping Toms too? It was decided by the organizers of the exhibition that the importance of showing historical evidence, of making sure people didn’t forget, was greater than the dangers of prurience. Hersonski, by making her film, clearly thinks so too. But implicitly, she takes the dilemmas of witnessing horrors further. Seeing what the Nazis did is one thing, but what about watching images of atrocities taking place in our own time? Mass murder and torture can now be seen in photography exhibitions, magazines, movies, the Internet, even on the evening news.
Talking about her film, Hersonski made this link with the present quite clear: “What is my ethical position when I’m sitting very comfortably in my living room and seeing whatever is happening a few kilometers from my city in the occupied territories?” Her point is not that Gaza is like the Warsaw ghetto and she does not suggest that Israeli behavior can be compared to Nazi mass murder. The question is how we respond to images of human suffering, especially if we can be held in some way responsible:
Then what do you do as a witness? It’s a terrible question—it’s a haunting, torturing question. It’s our essential question. I think that it was also a major reason why I made this film—because the Holocaust not only confronted humanity with an inconceivable horror but it also did mark the very beginning of the systematic implementation on film of that horror.
Hersonski believes that the bombardment of photographic images has numbed us. Others have thought this, and then changed their minds.8 It was not a problem that occurred to the makers of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today. Filmed atrocities were still too fresh, too shocking. Perhaps this also explains why the Nazis refused to finish Das Ghetto. German audiences might have been so horrified by the images of Jewish suffering that the propaganda message, whatever it was, would have got lost. One hopes that this would have been the case. The impact of A Film Unfinished is surely sufficient proof that, even in our media-saturated age, filmed images can still move our feelings, if not necessarily create a better world.
by Jerome Henry Rudes | Published November 16, 2010
In the Fall 2010 issue of MovieMaker, Jerome Henry Rudes writes on the efforts of Sanda Schulberg to restore Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today. Stuart Schulberg’s 1948 documentary on the post-World War II war crimes trial at Nuremberg was not screened in the United States for over 60 years following its completion.
In this companion piece to the printed article ("Lessons from Nuremberg: Justice and Film Preservation Converge"), Rudes discusses the necessity of restoring classic films—and the difficulties that doing so entails—with several experts in the field of film restoration: Richard Peña, program director at The Film Society of Lincoln Center; Sarah Finklea from Criterion Collection/Janus Films; Dan Berger from Oscilloscope Laboratories; and Dennis Doros, founder of Milestone Film & Video and member of the board of directors of the Association of Moving Image Archivists.
Jerome Henry Rudes (MM): How do you select a film to restore for contemporary audiences?
Sarah Finklea (SF): Janus theatrical releases and Criterion DVD releases are designed with an eye to what our audience would like to see. We listen to our audience. We also try to keep the schedules diverse, with a variety of countries, studios, directors, and time periods balanced.
Dan Berger (DB): The film’s accessibility and the pedigree of talent attached are major factors. In the case of our release of The Law, there was a well-respected yet still under-appreciated director in Jules Dassin. The film has a cast of some of the biggest international stars—Mastroianni, Lollobrigida, Montand, Mercouri and Brasseur. Also, The Law was relatively obscure; Oscilloscope was able to introduce something new rather than rehash what was already known.
Dennis Doros (DD): At Milestone, we are looking for films that are remarkable and will be appreciated over the years to come. Over the course of restoration and release, we have to see a film from 50 to 150 times, so it had better hold up for our own sake. We are not looking for films that are already considered masterpieces like The Red Shoes or The Blue Angel; we are looking for films that have been missed by the critics and historians over the years. There’s nothing better to us than bringing I Am Cuba or The Exiles into the canon.
MM: What are the technical hurdles involved in restoration?
SF: There is a tendency to overuse state-of-the-art digital tools. We try to stay focused on the cinematic quality of the film to retain the original look and grain. One of the biggest technical problems is a continuous vertical scratch, very difficult to remove completely. We undertake digital restoration in-house for our DVD and Blu-ray releases, but when projects need true film restoration, we turn to our colleagues at more traditional film institutions, like the Film Foundation or Academy Film Archive. In the case of Jean Renoir’s Rules Of The Game, we created a completely new digital intermediate after restoration because the elements were lost and the film was in dire need of help.
DD: Every film that we have restored is completely different in its technical problems. Each one always has some unique problem that we have not come across before and that needs to be conquered. We find solutions by working with the best labs and archivists. . . Rights can be the most difficult hurdle to overcome. It took us 15 years to find the rights holder to Anthony Howarth’sPeople Of The Wind. Sometimes we have to give up on a dream film because the rights are impossible to find or too expensive to acquire.
Richard Peña (RP): I think one should remain as faithful to the original work as possible, which becomes tricky, especially with re-recorded soundtracks.
MM: What’s the actual market for archival movies?
RP: This depends on the film itself. The ideal is to program a film that crosses over to a younger audience who may have heard of it, but never seen it. Certainly never seen it on the big screen. We recently showed some Sergio Leone westerns and were all delighted to see both the size and the youth of the audience. Sometimes restorations are for older, more hard-core film buffs.
DD: After 20 years, Milestone has a number of theaters that appreciate our taste. They know that our films will look magnificent and that Milestone will provide good posters, postcards, trailers, and encyclopedic press kits to market them. We still depend on print ads, though I know it sounds old-fashioned, and we have young employees who have created great websites for us. We also have very good relationships with the bloggers.
SF: Aside from the DVD market, there is a solid theatrical market for archival films. Most larger cities have at least one cinematheque or major art-house theater. Many have more than one, so the classics, particularly new restorations, end up playing in the same venue as newer art-house films. Unfortunately, TV almost never covers revivals and newspapers are cutting back on film coverage. The Internet is getting the word out to the right audience. Specialized sites along with Facebook and Twitter have helped to solidify the existing audience for revivals in theaters.
MM: Tell me a personal story relating to an archival film that you worked on?
DD: One of the first major films we released was Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba. Back in 1995, tensions were still pretty high with Russia and we had no idea how people would react to the politics. We had risked all our money on acquiring the film, creating great materials and publicizing it. At the time, you had to go to the New York newsstands at 11:00 pm to get the next day’s paper and read the reviews. As we were walking down from our West 96th Street apartment, we were discussing what a terrible mistake we had made and what we would be doing after we disbanded the company. We were trembling as we purchased the Times and opened it to the Arts section. There was a huge photo of I Am Cubagracing the page and an ecstatic review by Janet Maslin. We were absolutely in shock and deliriously happy. Fifteen years later, we still like to work as if it’s the last film we’ll every get to release and are thrilled when our hard work leads to any degree of success.
DB: When pulling out the film cans of The Law from the shelves of the French archive (the film was broken up into 1,000 foot reels, as opposed to today’s standard of roughly twice that), there turned out to be 14 reels of film. Taking the runtime into consideration and doing some math, there was too much film. All the reels, including the mysterious extra can, were sent to the States for inspection. We discovered that the extra can contained an elongated ending for the film, including a scene entirely cut from the final movie. It’s a campy, risqué scene, completely unnecessary in the context of the film, and rightfully cut. But it provided some interesting insight into the editing of the film (the scene was likely cut due to censorship concerns) and we’ve included it as an extra on the DVD.
SF: After we released the new restoration of Rules Of The Game, a critic called to say that he had seen the film many times in the past, but when watching our print in the theater he noticed a frog sitting on the base of a statue in one of the key scenes. He had never known it was there and was so excited that there were still new details to notice in such a revered classic.
RP: A few years ago we presented an Ang Lee retrospective, for which he offered to premiere the director’s cut of Ride With The Devil, featuring a few new scenes and some extended ones. As soon as it was over, I went up on our stage with Ang Lee for the Q&A, and the first thing he said was “That movie’s really too long now, don’t you think?”
MM: Can you describe how it feels to bring to the screen a film that hasn’t had an audience in many years?
DB: Absolutely worth the effort, even if the acquisition, preparation and release of the film was difficult. When The Law opened theatrically at BAM [the Brooklyn Academy of Music], I went and bought a ticket like any other spectator. It was definitely a fulfilling experience. There is something to be said about seeing the end result of a nearly three-year journey manifest itself in a room full of other filmgoers who really enjoy it. There’s nothing more fulfilling.
RP: Sharing great art is always a joy.
DD: Our biggest thrill is bringing out a film that never really had an audience, likeI Am Cuba, The Exiles, Mamma Roma and Killer Of Sheep, and make them part of the current film discussion. People always tell us afterward what an easy decision it must have been to pick those films to distribute. Just a few months before, people were questioning our sanity. We are attracted to films with an extreme degree of difficulty, then trying to make the impossible happen. The effort is worth it because of the nature of our product. Film can change lives. We have worked with filmmakers who have greatly enriched our own lives. To share these people and their films with friends and audiences is really a joy.
SF: It was very gratifying to put out Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and the Chaplin retrospective this past year, but even more exciting has been watching mounting interest in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House as it tours around the country. This relatively unknown Japanese film from 1977 has found a new audience in the US. Being able to work on a project like that is amazing.
—Jerome Henry Rudes
A documentary about the Nuremberg trials, one of the greatest dramas in history, will be shown tonight in Grand Forks. And one of the people most eager to see it is Reginald Urness, who had a virtual front-row seat at the real thing in 1946.
By: Paulette Tobin, Grand Forks Herald
A documentary about the Nuremberg trials, one of the greatest dramas in history, will be shown tonight in Grand Forks. And one of the people most eager to see it is Reginald Urness, who had a virtual front-row seat at the real thing in 1946.
Urness, then 19, was a “baby boy” soldier serving in occupied Germany, stationed at an Army base at Weiden, about 60 miles east of Nuremberg.
He may have been young, said the retired telephone communications worker, but even then he recognized the historic significance of the international military tribunal. At Nuremberg, the Allies tried 22 top Nazi officials for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“For some reason, I knew I wanted to be there,” Urness said Tuesday, seated in his sunlit living room. “I thought of being part of a very famous event.”
So, even though none of his buddies would join him, he caught rides by train to Nuremberg and spent two days at the trial, seated about 20 feet from Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess.
Tonight at 7, the 1946 documentary “Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today” will be shown in the Empire Arts Center, presented by the UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies. Written and directed by Stuart Schulberg (an Army sergeant and the brother of famous screenwriter Budd Schulberg), “Nuremberg” never was shown in the U.S. before this year. Sandra Schulberg, one of the persons who restored the film and Stuart Schulberg’s daughter, will be in the Empire tonight for the showing.
Urness said some of the details of his time in Nuremberg have become hazy. And it doesn’t help that a booklet he received about the trials when he was there in 1946, like most of his pictures from Germany, were destroyed in the 1997 flood.
His time in the courtroom was just before Goering committed suicide Oct. 15, 1946. Goering, who had been found guilty, escaped the executioner by swallowing poison just hours before he was scheduled to die by hanging. (There’s never been an official explanation for how he managed to obtain cyanide.)
Urness said he was prohibited from taking pictures in or of the courthouse (unless he stood outside the fence that surrounded the place), but he remembers the scene in the courtroom. Behind the dock of defendants stood white-helmeted guards. Goering seemed “very fidgety,” Urness said.
“I remember Goering moving constantly and Hess sitting next to him was very quiet,” he said. It was a busy courtroom with lots of coming and going. Goering and the other defendants often wore dark glasses, he said.
Urness and others in the courtroom had access to headsets so they could hear the proceedings translated to English, or one of several other languages.
Urness grew up at Leeds, N.D., and graduated in 1945 from Leeds High School. July 10, 1945, he was drafted. Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 8, 1945, so he became part of the occupational forces in Germany, completing basic training at Camp Fanning near Tyler, Texas.
He spent 10 days on a ship bound for Germany, nine of them seasick, landing in France, and then transported with his fellow soldiers in a 40 et 8 railroad boxcar (so named because it cold hold 40 men or eight horses) with no seats and no heat. Around them, in the industrial Ruhr Valley, everything appeared to be bombed to the ground.
On Christmas Eve near Bremerhaven, Germany, it got so cold he and his fellow soldiers removed a stove from an adjoining boxcar by sawing through the floor. Urness said he took coal from a Soviet train so they’d have something to burn. It was stamped with a hammer and sickle.
“It was a rude awakening for us young boys who always had enough food and enough coal for heat and always had our parents there,” he said.
Urness was assigned to the newly established 11th Constabulary Regiment, whose mission was to keep the peace and tour southern Germany with light tanks to impress on the German people that the American soldiers were still there. Many of the German people were homeless, jobless and starving. It was common for children to line up to eat out the Army’s garbage cans after meals, he said.
Urness traveled a bit while he was stationed in Germany, including a visit to the concentration camp at Dachau, where he saw a 20-foot pile of men’s, women’s and children’s shoes.
After 19 months in the Army, Urness returned to North Dakota, attended North Dakota State University and joined the North Dakota National Guard. In 1950, he was federalized with the National Guard because of the Korean conflict, assigned to the Cando (N.D.) Guard unit and spent 19 months at Camp Rucker, Ala. Urness served during two wars, but he never saw action.
Urness worked as a civilian with Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. For 25 years, he was manager for the telephone company at Grand Forks Air Force Base. After retiring, he farmed for four years at Leeds and still has a farm there.
He and his wife, Ardelle, had two children — Cindy, who teaches at NDSU, and Scott, an artist who died in 1991 of apparent heart failure. He was 35. They had two grandchildren. Ardelle died in 2000, just days after their 50th wedding anniversary.
A few years later, he married Roselynn, and they are getting ready to spend the winter (except for Christmas) in Arizona, which is where they met. At 83, he looks at least 10 years younger, and credits his fitness to years of running four miles a day and now daily morning workouts.
Their home is filled with family pictures, an old clock that he bought after it fell off the wall of the Leeds library and restored, and dozens of Scott’s paintings, prints and sketches. Urness owns several antique vehicles, including an award-winning Model T.
In 1983, he and wife Ardelle returned to Germany and visited the now-German Army base at Weiden, which hadn’t changed much at all. They also were in Nuremberg, where Urness visited the courthouse where he’d witness part of the Nuremberg trials so many years before.
“I sat on the same bench that I did when I was 19 years old, and also where Goering sat,” he said. “Again, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures.”
“Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today,” a U.S.-made film of the ground-breaking post World War II Nazi war crimes trials, will be shown Wednesday in Grand Forks with Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the film’s writer-director Stuart Schulberg, as a special guest.
By: Paulette Tobin, Grand Forks Herald
“Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today,” a U.S.-made film of the ground-breaking post World War II Nazi war crimes trials, will be shown Wednesday in Grand Forks with Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the film’s writer-director Stuart Schulberg, as a special guest.
One of the greatest courtroom dramas in history, “Nuremberg” shows how the four allied prosecution teams, from the U.S., Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union, built a case against top Nazi leaders, including Herman Goring, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer.
The film was shown extensively in Germany after the war, but the U.S. government prevented it from being shown in America for reasons that remain unclear. The restored film’s U.S. debut was in early October in New York City.
Its showing in Grand Forks came through a meeting earlier this year in Africa of Schulberg and Gregory Gordon, director for the UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies and a professor at the UND School of Law.
Schulberg and Gordon were at the International Criminal Court review conference in Kampala, Uganda, which also featured a showing of “Nuremberg: It’s Lessons for Today,” Gordon said. The film was a compelling overview of the trial, Gordon said, and a powerful reminder of why participants were at the ICC conference. Most thrilling of all for Gordon, the film was introduced by Benjamin Ferencz, one of the prosecutors at the Nuremberg trials, which began in November 1945 and ran through October 1946.
Gordon also had a chance to chat with Schulberg, who, as it turned out, had a North Dakota connection. In 1978, she was associate producer of “Northern Lights,” a movie shot in North Dakota about the establishment of the populist Non-Partisan League.
“Sandra said she would love it if the UND Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies could sponsor a showing of the film,” he said of their meeting. “She said she would come and introduce it and the Nuremberg film to UND and the Grand Forks community.”
On Wednesday, she’ll be in Grand Forks to make good on her promise. And, in addition to the 7 p.m. showing of “Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today” at Empire Arts Center, there will be a 2 p.m. showing Wednesday of “Northern Lights” at UND Memorial Union Lecture Bowl. Both movies are free and open to the public.
The Wednesday showing of “Nuremberg” in Grand Forks coincides with the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, also know as the Night of Broken Glass, a series of attacks against Jews throughout Germany and parts of Austria. Jewish homes were ransacked as storm troopers and civilians destroyed shops, synagogues and villages, leaving streets littered with smashed glass. Ninety-one Jews were killed, and 30,000 Jewish men taken to concentration camps.
For Gordon, the message of “Nuremberg” is important in Grand Forks where Nazi symbols have been posted, occasionally and anonymously, in public places.
“We want to raise awareness of the evils of the swastika,” he said.
“Nuremberg: It’s Lessons for Today” was completed by a U.S. military team that included writer and director Stuart Schulberg, Sandra’s father. Andrew O’Hehir, writing for Salon.com, said its immediate purpose was to convince the defeated German people to blame the deranged criminal regime that led them into war, not the victorious Allies, for their desperate state.
For another, O’Hehir writes, “Nuremberg” introduced an explosive and controversial principal into international law, the idea that political, military and business leaders could be held personally liable for waging aggressive warfare and for crimes against humanity.
“It’s oddly gratifying,” O’Hehir writes, “to hear some of the accused men, including Hans Frank, the former Nazi governor of Poland and Hitler Youth head Baldur von Schirach, express some awareness of their guilt and some measure of repentance. But when you’re reminded of the enormity of the criminal regime they enthusiastically supported and worked for, their words fade in importance.”
“Nuremberg” is a restoration by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletsky which preserves the original 1948 documentary, adding new subtitles and a narration by actor Live Schreiber. Ann Hornaday says in Going Out Guide online that the original filmmakers put together the Nazis’ own propaganda footage (some of it shot by Leni Riefenstahl), some postwar footage Stuart Schulberg himself filmed and the trial testimony.
“Viewers will be familiar with some of the most distressing images in ‘Nuremberg,’ but Schulberg and his team managed to uncover their own fresh hells,” Hornaday wrote, “such as a film depicting an early gas chamber, using a car with a long exhaust pipe leading into a small cabin. At the trial, the accused war criminals — 22 in all, including Hermann Goring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Albert Speer — looked alternately bored and disgusted, shielding their eyes from the movie lights with dark sunglasses.”
The New York Times review by A.O. Scott said “Nuremberg” makes viewers appreciate the scrupulous nature of the trials themselves, with their legalistic punctiliousness and deep moral passion.
“The guiding spirit of the Nuremberg trials is worth recalling now, in the midst of continuing argument about how to deal properly with enemies who show nothing but contempt for the norms of liberal society,” Scott wrote. “The Nuremberg answer was to hold onto those norms with a special tenacity, to afford the accused precisely the acknowledgement of humanity that they had denied their victims. That they were allowed to defend themselves also meant that they had, in front of the world, to choose whether to admit their depravity, lie about it or try to justify it.”
By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 8, 2010
A moment dramatic enough to be in a movie occurred during the making of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," Stuart Schulberg's documentary about the historic international military tribunal held in Germany in 1945-46. Schulberg and his brother Budd were searching for film footage of the Nazi regime and its horrors for use as evidence at the war crimes trial. And that search eventually took Budd to the doorstep of Leni Riefenstahl, the famous actress, director and Nazi propagandist, who in 1945 was living in Kitzbuhel, Austria.
"When she saw there was a uniformed officer at the door, she began screaming for her husband," says Sandra Schulberg, Stuart's daughter, who with Josh Waletzky has restored "Nuremberg." "She thought she was being arrested as a war criminal."
As Budd later recounted, he didn't immediately tell Riefenstahl otherwise. "He did have a warrant for her arrest as a material witness," Schulberg says, "and required her to help him in the editing room identifying people and footage."
The Riefenstahl encounter in many ways epitomizes the fascinating interplay between Hollywood and Washington that formed the context for the making of "Nuremberg," which was commissioned by the U.S. War Department and military government in Berlin to aid in the German denazification program during the years after World War II. The Schulberg brothers were scions of a storied movie family — their father, B.P., headed Paramount Pictures in the 1920s and Budd would go on to write "On the Waterfront" — and they worked for director John Ford, who headed the field photographic branch of the OSS, the intelligence-gathering precursor to the CIA.
The unit worked in the basement of the Department of Agriculture's South Building, Sandra Schulberg says. "That's where Budd and Stuart were headquartered throughout the war, making secret training films for OSS operatives who were infiltrating enemy lines in Europe." (Stuart Schulberg died in 1979; Budd died last year, at the age of 95.)
Although the "today" in "Nuremberg's" subtitle referred to the 1940s, it imparts just as timely and valuable insights for contemporary times — as a record of the trial that introduced such concepts as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity to the general public, and also as a demonstration of how economic insecurity, tribal mistrust and demagoguery can destroy an otherwise civilized society.
"Nuremberg," which in its restored version is narrated by Liev Schreiber, includes material filmed at the trial of 22 defendants — including Albert Speer, Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop — as well as scenes from the evidentiary films the Schulberg brothers created, one about the history of Nazism, the other a graphic one-hour film documenting the atrocities in the concentration camps.
Because much of that footage was culled from the Nazis' own propaganda films and newsreels, many of their images will be familiar to American viewers. But a few scenes might be unfamiliar and manage to shock with full and fresh force more than 60 years later. In one ghastly sequence, a group of emaciated people is trundled into a building where holes have been cut to accommodate an exhaust pipe leading from a van. The scene, filmed in Mogilev, Belarus, in 1941, documents a ghoulish precursor of what would become a rationalized system of mass murder in the extermination camps. Schulberg says her father found the footage in the apartment of an SS agent in Berlin.
"It's one of few documentations of the gassing that was shot by a German and that comes from a German source," she says. "There was no doubt much, much more, but we also think much was destroyed."
Her father and uncle became convinced that at least one of the two German editors they employed was tipping people off about their project. "They found two large caches of film still burning when they got to them," she says. But they nonetheless managed to assemble extraordinarily powerful films that, when they were presented at the Nuremberg trial, represented one of the first times film was ever used as evidence.
As for the trial itself, Stuart Schulberg had access to only 25 hours' worth of film that had been shot during the nearly year-long proceeding. "Nuremberg" highlights the indictments presented against the defendants — conspiracy to commit a crime against peace, waging wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity — each brought by a prosecutor representing one of the four Allied forces. While the defendants sit uncomfortably in the dock, many of them wearing sunglasses against the glare of the movie lights, the trial reminds viewers that such concepts have not been around all that long, and indeed have yet to be embraced by every nation. (The United States, for example, has yet to ratify the International Criminal Court, which itself was established after Nuremberg.)
As if the adventure and spycraft that informed the making of "Nuremberg" weren't intriguing enough, the film enjoyed a provocatively mysterious fate once it was made. Although it was shown throughout Germany as planned in 1948 and 1949 (the U.S. military government dispatched soldiers to ride on buses after screenings to eavesdrop, thinking they would get more candid reactions that way), "Nuremberg" was never released in the United States, for reasons that still can't be determined.
The films that Stuart Schulberg went on to make for the Marshall Plan couldn't be shown here because of laws preventing the government from propagandizing its own citizens. But Sandra Schulberg says there's no evidence that "Nuremberg" was censored for that reason. She speculates that the government may not have wanted to highlight German crimes when trying to gain popular support for rebuilding the country, or that the United States wanted to switch the nation's focus to the threat of Soviet communism.
Now that "Nuremberg" can finally be seen on these shores, she says, "I hope Americans will see it in the context of today. Not to focus so much on what the Nazis did, but what Americans can do to support the International Criminal Court and eventually put pressure on the Senate to ratify it." Noting that Germany did not join the coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003, she adds, "Germany has learned the lessons of Nuremberg better than anyone. They really have taken the Nuremberg Principles to heart."
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today
(80 minutes, in English, German, French and Russian, with subtitles, at the Avalon) is not rated. It contains disturbing images and nudity associated with the Holocaust and World War II.
In 1946, Stuart Schulberg was commissioned by the U.S. War Dept. to make a documentary about the Nuremberg trials. But for mysterious reasons, the film stayed unreleased and the negative disappeared. Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky have reconstituted a complete version from an extant German print, and despite past minings of the terrain (such as the French "Nuremberg: The Nazis Facing Their Crimes"), this re-excavated attempt to grasp the unimaginable, with its sober concision, clarity and inexorable buildup, packs an unexpected wallop. Docu opened Sept. 29 at Gotham's Film Forum following its New York Film Festival bow.
Stuart Schulberg, along with brother Budd, had already been instrumental in compiling the original documentary footage used throughout the trial: a four-hour assemblage titled "The Nazi Plan" and the one-hour "Nazi Concentration Camps," shot by Allied forces. From the beginning, Stuart Schulberg's full familiarity with the footage is obvious. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Nuremberg trials, aside from the utter heinousness and sheer scope of the charges, was the fact that the Nazis condemned themselves with their very own meticulously preserved words and images.
Docu is structured according to the sequence of presentation at the trial, from the opening statements to the final verdicts and sentences. Damning quotations from Nazi directives and minutes of secret meetings enliven the narration, re-recited here by Liev Schreiber in close approximation of the original film's voiceover. At first, the imagery registers as merely striking, picturing rowdy crowds in Munich streets as Hitler's gang gains ascendency. Irony rules the section on "crimes against peace" as, in rapid succession, treaties are signed, only to be immediately violated by unannounced Nazi territorial advancement. In this context, Japan's out-of-the-blue attack on Pearl Harbor following peace talks appears to be part of a well-established Axis pattern.
As each successive count of the indictment is read (first by the American prosecutor, then by the British, Russian and French prosecutors), the footage becomes increasingly disturbing. Visual evidence of war crimes include aerial shots of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, penned with no shelter on subfreezing, snow-covered plains. In Europe, piles of bodies line the streets of French and German towns, and emaciated members of the Polish intelligentsia and organized resistance are locked in buildings subsequently pumped full of carbon monoxide or set ablaze.
Jews barely receive a mention for the film's first 40 minutes, but the section headed "crimes against humanity" starts with shots of storm troopers inciting anti-Semitic hatred to serve as an introduction to Hitler's Final Solution. Although the visions of emaciated concentration camp inmates, of corpses being dragged and thrown into pits, and of infinite heaps of hair, gold teeth and eyeglasses have become quite familiar in the intervening years, their silent unspooling has lost none of its power to shock.
Schulberg does not include accounts of survivors who spoke at the trial, allowing the imagery of the film-within-the-film to speak for itself. Indeed, after this irrefutable accumulation of atrocities, the defendants' testimony and cross-examination ring particularly hollow. The surprisingly nuanced verdict, which finds two defendants "not guilty on this indictment" and sentences others to terms in prison (as well as many to death by hanging), constitutes, in the words of presiding Justice Robert H. Jackson, "one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason."
A piece of benign propaganda and a cogent primer on the criminality of Nazi Germany, the 1948 documentary Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was never released in the United States. The 2009 Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration, under review here, is a tribute to the tenacity of the original filmmakers as well as to the speed and eloquence with which the Allies brought nearly two-dozen high-ranking defendants to justice during the first Nuremberg tribunal. Screened as a sidebar at the New York Film Festival and slotted for a one-week run at Film Forum, the restored Nuremberg cries out for the widest possible dissemination.
Made by Stuart Schulberg and his brother Bud under the aegis of the U.S. Office of Military Government, it's no wonder Nuremberg was intended to convey a specific message on behalf of the victors: In essence, "Don't worry. Never again will civilized nations allow such crimes against humanity to be committed." Given the tense postwar atmosphere in Europe and fears about Soviet encroachment, it's also not a surprise that it was exhibited in occupied Germany as part of a de-Nazification campaign but never shown domestically. The geo-political dynamics were too complicated and uncertain. One supposes the American government didn't want to upset Russia nor distract their own citizenry from the tasks at hand with any self-congratulatory and, in retrospect, idealistic rhetoric.
The negative and soundtrack were subsequently lost or destroyed and so it fell to Stuart's daughter, Sandra, and her colleague, Josh Waletzky, to oversee a painstaking restoration. They created a new 35mm negative, got Liev Schreiber to re-record the narration and had the original music score reconstructed. Using film footage and other records produced by the Germans themselves, the Allies were able to present an airtight case against the defendants, including such notorious masterminds as Hermann Goering and Rudolph Hess. The Schulberg's and their cohorts in the U.S. military's movie unit were charged with unearthing much of that film before the trial, only a fraction of which could be incorporated into the documentary.
Astoundingly, only 25 hours of the actual trial, which lasted 10 1/2 months, were filmed. This constraint makes it all the more impressive that the Schulbergs, urged on by producer Pare Larentz, were able to create such a cohesive and comprehensive movie. A lot is covered in 80 minutes, starting with the moving opening statement of Justice Robert H. Jackson, who was one of four lead Allied prosecutors. What follows is a seminal and succinct survey of the genesis of the Nazi party, going back to the rearmament efforts of 1933. Tracing the legal proceedings, the picture outlines how the party consolidated power and eventually annexed Austria and Czechoslovakia, before invading Poland and setting off a global conflict. The Russian, French and British prosecutors then present umbrella counts against the defendants, including crimes involving the use of slave labor and "The Final Solution." A brief sequence is allotted to the defense and statements made by a few of the lesser-known defendants. Snippets of the summations are presented and then Schreiber reads out the verdicts one by one.
If you think you're inured to images from World War II, think again. The miles of footage entered into evidence contain views of atrocities that are sickening and dispiriting in the extreme. And if you believe there's not much more we can learn about Germany's conduct during the war, you're also mistaken. Nuremberg amounts to an incisive dossier on the heinous nature of the Third Reich. Nevertheless, as explicit and convincing as the case it makes may be, this essential non-fiction film has an inscrutable quality. Due to the enormity of the issues raised, from both historical and philosophical perspectives, Nuremberg is nearly as significant for what it doesn't show or say as for what it does.
Finally, it's a sterling example of how the medium can be deployed for the most noble of aims. At the same time, due to its mysterious suppression and the fact it was made possible by the Nazis own zeal for recording their barbarity, Nuremberg is a reminder that no film is immune to the distortions of politics, prejudice and fear.
(Stuart Schulberg, U.S., 1948)
Review by Nicolas Rapold
World War II and film history intersect with shadow-casting monumentality—in the use of film as a record of war and evidence of Nazi atrocities, in the crowded choir of personal and public accounts across hundreds of theatrical and broadcast documentaries, in the specific inquisitions of Marcel Ophüls and the massive war-movie output of Hollywood among others. Horrific images of rolling tanks and heaps of bodies rolling into pits are so familiar to many Westerners that reckoning requires a special effort, an unusually active engagement, a thinking-through of yet another encounter with this past.
Against this context of so much context, the restored Nuremberg—the U.S.-organized account of the 1945–46 war-crimes trials—is a ritual as much as it is a movie. Split between footage of the trials and a retelling of the rise of the Nazis, it was originally intended as Allied propaganda for German audiences, featuring a dutifully clear message and dour drumbeat pacing. The project was commissioned by doc god (and Lt. Col.) Pare Lorentz and at one time belonged to John Ford as a project, but was ultimately put together by Stuart Schulberg, who had been tasked with producing other such material as the U.S. strategized in the aftermath of the Allied victory. (As tidy and self-evident as such films seem now, they were not always well received: one reported German response went “If you spent more time bringing in food and less time making propaganda, we’d all be better off.”) Stuart’s daughter, multihyphenate Sandra Schulberg, previously curated a program of Marshall Plan commissions which played in the 2004 New York Film Festival, and, with Josh Waletzky, is credited for the audio-augmented, freshly subtitled restoration here.
The thrust of Nuremberg mirrors the two-step of the visuals (and of the 11-month-long trials): indelibly linking historical acts to individual responsibility. The courtroom profiles of Nazi top brass from Air Marshall Göring on down punctuate the collapsing skeletons of buildings, the endless huddles of deceived diplomats or crumpled civilians, or simply the official written directives read aloud in voiceover. Some footage that appears in the film, which drew on two previous Army compilations, was presented in the trial itself.Nuremberg builds its case slowly with what’s now a textbook recapitulation of Hitler’s ascendancy. Nevertheless, the chronicle’s beats (Reichstag fire, Sudetenland, Axis pact, etc.) still induce feelings of dread, grief, powerlessness, and loathing. (“Jawohl!” affirms Göring about Nazi strategies, but otherwise his grandstanding is largely kept off-screen.)
One of the film’s surprises might be the time devoted to demonstrating the militarism and duplicity of the Third Reich. Nuremberg builds a litany of reneged promises, recounting acts of aggression together with Hitler’s specific assurances to the contrary, as if to counter any possible national nostalgia. Organized by the quantifying-the-unquantifiable rubrics of the official charges—e.g., “Crimes Against Humanity”—the climactic item is the mass murder of the Jews, which receives less screen time than one might expect, though this footage was presented early on at the trial. And you almost long for more shots of courtroom spectators if only to provide some relief from the relentless focus on the prosecutors and defendants—this is clearly a film whose communal theatrical experience will be qualitatively different than home viewing.
The greatest theater in this “courtroom drama” might come with chief prosecutor among the multinational team, Robert H. Jackson, and his immortal closing arguments, ridiculing the shuffling denials from the front bench: “These men saw no evil, spoke none, and none was uttered in their presence.” Nuremberg is a film that satisfies and yet at the same time, like so many such records, leaves a yawning gulf between what is chronicled and what occurred.
By Frank Scheck, September 30, 2010 07:28 ET
Bottom Line: Vitally important historical documentary finally sees the light of day.
It's taken more than 60 years, but filmmaker Stuart Schulberg's powerful film documenting the landmark Nuremberg war crimes trial has finally been given a U.S. theatrical release. Adapted from an earlier version featuring the still relevant subtitle "Its Lesson for Today," the film is an important historical document that vitally merits theatrical exposure. After recently being showcased at the New York Film Festival, "Nuremberg" is currently receiving a premiere engagement at NYC's Film Forum.
Schulberg — who, along with his brother Budd (later the screenwriter of such classics as "On the Waterfront") — originally served in director John Ford's wartime unit documenting the war. He then was assigned the task of recording the 1945-1946 Nuremberg trials, in which the defendants included the notorious likes of Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goering, Albert Speer and other Nazi figures.
The film that resulted was suppressed by the U.S. government for political reasons, with the original negative either lost or destroyed. This effort, co-created by Schulberg's daughter Sandra and Josh Waletzky, is both a restoration of the original and an updated version featuring additional footage, a reconstruction of the musical soundtrack, and a new narration delivered that ubiquitous voice of PBS documentaries, actor Liev Schreiber.
Although much of the horrific atrocity footage on display will be familiar to history buffs, it has lost none of its power to shock. But the film is particularly valuable for its lengthy courtroom scenes — many of which are being seen for the first time — including the opening and closing addresses by American prosecutor Robert H. Jackson and snippets from the actual testimony of the accused and their lawyers. It's hard not to feel a chill, for instance, listening to Goering claiming that although he was unaware of the extermination of the Jews, he knew that "certain excesses" had occurred.
Why Stuart Schulberg's film of the famous Nazi trial was destroyed — and what it can tell us now
BY ANDREW O'HEHIR
Maybe the title of the documentary "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today"sounds a little pedantic and old-fashioned. That's because the "today" in question is not, like, today but 1948, when this film was completed by a United States military team and shown in occupied Germany. A compact and devastating record of the history-making trial — held in the symbolic birthplace of the Nazi Party — that held two dozen leading Nazi officials to account for the crimes of the Holocaust and other World War II atrocities, "Nuremberg" was never shown in U.S. theaters, and the master negative and soundtrack were destroyed, for reasons that remain mysterious. (But which can, I believe, be deduced from the evidence.)
Viewed cynically, the immediate purpose of "Nuremberg" was to convince the defeated German population that the blame for their material privation and collective despair lay not with the victorious Allies but with the deranged criminal regime that had led their nation into war in the first place. But writer-director Stuart Schulberg (an Army sergeant and the brother of famous screenwriter Budd Schulberg) clearly had larger goals in mind. For one thing, the Nuremberg trials presented a startling example of postwar global cooperation, with Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson serving as lead prosecutor alongside a team of British, French and Soviet colleagues. (This release is the result of a lengthy restoration process led by Sandra Schulberg, the director's daughter, and Josh Waletzky.)
For another, Nuremberg introduced an explosive and controversial principle into international law: the idea that political, military and business leaders could be held personally liable for waging aggressive warfare, for murdering civilians or captured enemies, and for the ambiguous category of "crimes against humanity." It was one thing to apply these new juridical concepts to the universally loathed Nazi regime, but quite another to confront the fact that they applied to everyone else as well. Jackson himself wrote to President Harry Truman that the Allies "have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for ... We are prosecuting plunder and our Allies are practicing it." Jackson was talking about the Soviet Union, of course — and it is more than a little rich that Stalin's murderous totalitarian state had the temerity to participate in a war-crimes tribunal — but as the Cold War proceeded, both superpowers became highly uncomfortable with the theory and practice of international criminal law.
You won't get any sense of the fascinating (and ongoing) legal and philosophical debate surrounding the Nuremberg trials, which have been attacked as a fraudulent exercise in "victors' justice" and defended as a breakthrough for international human rights. Schulberg paints in broad strokes, creating an intensely riveting 78-minute portrait that tries to capture both the flavor of a dramatic 10-month trial — one of the 20th century's first and biggest media spectacles — and the horrific history that provoked it. We hear extended snatches of Jackson's famously eloquent opening and closing statements, witness key moments in the testimony of the odious and unrepentant Hermann Göring — who committed suicide the night before his scheduled execution — and listen to a number of other high-ranking Nazis plead for their lives.
Schulberg intercuts snippets of German and Allied footage documenting some of the worst war atrocities, and even though that's no more than a few minutes of the film, and it's material many of us have seen before, in this context of judgment it assumes a hideous new power. It's oddly gratifying to hear some of the accused men, including Hans Frank, the former Nazi governor of Poland, and Hitler Youth head Baldur von Schirach, express some awareness of their guilt, and some measure of repentance. But when you're reminded of the enormity of the criminal regime they enthusiastically supported and worked for, their words fade in importance. Better to say they were wrong than not to, of course — but it doesn't make any of the dead come back to life. (Frank was among the nine defendants hanged; Schirach served 20 years in Spandau prison.)
"Nuremberg" does indeed contain a "lesson for today," but the lesson takes the form of an emotional roller-coaster ride, and its ultimate message is more than a little murky. Was Albert Speer, the dapper Nazi architect who was the only defendant to discuss not merely his own crimes but the evils of an authoritarian regime, really a reflective intellectual or just an eloquent spinmeister ingratiating himself to a new master? Did the limitations and hypocrisies of the Nuremberg process undermine its lofty goal of shining the light of reason and justice on some of history's cruelest crimes? (Whatever its flaws, Nuremberg was more than a kangaroo court: Two defendants, diplomat Franz von Papen and banker Hjalmar Schacht, were acquitted and released.)
And, to return to the question of this documentary's cloudy history: What was it about Schulberg's "Nuremberg" that made U.S. military authorities feel that it was OK for occupied Germans but had to be destroyed before Americans could see it? I'm not qualified to get all Glenn Greenwald on you, but even amid all the contradiction and ambiguity of the Nuremberg process, the argument made there was clear: All the nations of the world had to be held to the same standard, and every nation that waged aggressive warfare and committed war crimes, no matter how large or rich or powerful, would be judged accordingly.
By STEVE DOLLAR
It was the trial of the century—the 1945 prosecution of 14 of Adolf Hitler's inner circle for war crimes—but the film, paid for by the US government to document this historic event, was never released. This restoration brings the film back to light, with a faithful narration by Liev Schreiber and a meticulously tweaked audio mix, all the better to hear the Nazis squirm. Movie producer and Columbia University professor Sandra Schulberg, working with Josh Waletsky, had a personal stake in the project: It was made by her father, Stuart Schulberg. Its 78 minutes seem to have lost none of their power, still forceful in a focus that may have compelled its suppression as America sought public support to rebuild a postwar Germany.
Long Hidden, But Not Forgotten
Completed in 1948 but not shown until 2010, Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today is an extraordinary cinematic document of one of the most important trials of the Twentieth Century, the post-World War II trial of Nazi officials for crimes against humanity.
Recording the Trial and Using Evidentiary Archival Footage
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was written, directed and edited by Stuart Schulberg, who compiled footage shot during the first Nuremberg Trial (from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946) and archival Nazi-shot footage that was presented as evidence during the trial to show in no uncertain terms that Nazi officials were guilty as charged of crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against the peace, and deserved severe punishment for their actions.
The film shows how trial proceedings lead to the establishment of the Nuremberg principles, guidelines that still prevail today in the punishment of war criminals. guide the definition of treatment of war criminals.
The film's cast of characters is astonishing. You see Hermann Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Albert Speer and other big name Nazis sitting in the dock, and being questioned about their behavior and actions. The footage is chilling.
With Liev Schreiber voicing narration that connects evidentiary footage to trial footage, the entire film is an absolutely gripping real life courtroom drama. And, it is deeply disturbing. Some of the images, particularly those of the emaciated bodies of concentration camp victims of the Nazis, and of bodies of those who were murdered, are downright horrific. But this film should be required viewing for students of school social studies and history and, most certainly, anyone who aspires to political leadership.
Then And Now...
It's unclear just why Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today wasn't shown when it was finished in 1948, but thank goodness and Sandra Schulberg, daughter of Stuart Schulberg and an accomplished filmmaker in her own right, and her collaborator Josh Waletsky, that the restored film is now being brought to the world's attention at this moment in history, as contemporary perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity are brought to trial and the Nuremberg principles are again being considered. It is a lesson for today! See this film!
‘Nuremberg’ Hits American Screens 62 Years After Its German Release
By Nathan Burstein
More than six decades after its intended release, the documentary “Nuremberg” should have secured its own small but notable place in American film history. Funded, but later suppressed, by America’s government, the documentary records the first major trial involving crimes against humanity, and features then unseen footage taken by the Germans themselves.
But despite its unusual backstory and fascinating material, “Nuremberg” never made it to American theaters, even in the wake of Stanley Kramer’s highly successful 1961 movie, “Judgement at Nuremberg.” For reasons that remain unclear even 62 years later, the film is only now enjoying its American premiere, opening on September 29 at Film Forum in New York City. Newly restored by the daughter of the original director, the film remains a rich historical document, both because of what appears onscreen and because of the mystery of the movie’s long absence from American theaters.
“What I’ve concluded from newspaper articles and memos from the time is that it was a combination of factors,” Sandra Schulberg, who restored the film in conjunction with documentary maker Josh Waletzky, told the Forward.
It was Schulberg’s father, Stuart Schulberg, who directed the original “Nuremberg,” which documented the 10-month trial of many of the Nazi regime’s most notorious criminals. Combining dramatic moments from the court proceedings with images from before and during the war, the documentary screened across Germany in 1948 and ’49, part of the official de-Nazification campaign.
Running a swift but fact-packed 80 minutes, the film contains gruesome images — including footage shot at crematoria and mass graves that was shown at the trial and became an early instance of film evidence being used in legal proceedings. Prosecuted by each of the Allied powers, the trial made use of German-shot footage hunted down by an American team that had been led by Stuart Schulberg. Included in the team was Schulberg’s brother, Budd, a noted writer and later an Oscar winner for “On the Waterfront.”
“Extensive use of film as evidence had never been — it was an innovation,” said Sandra Schulberg, who told the Forward that she was “conceived in Berlin and born in Paris” in the years after the war. “They were very careful to get affidavits for every piece of [captured] film they showed. They knew that the Germans would be concerned about authenticity; they were very sensitive about possible accusations of it being propaganda.”
As a result, chief Nuremberg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson placed tight restrictions on what sorts of footage could be used, barring, among other limitations, anything that had previously appeared in Allied newsreels. During his search for German footage, Stuart Schulberg discovered film that had been rendered unusable by saboteurs. Despite this, he would eventually submit a four-hour film called “The Nazi Plan” for use in the courtroom, as well as a shorter film, “Nazi Concentration Camps,” which presented footage shot by American and British soldiers as they liberated the camps. Because of its Allied provenance, the latter film was shown in court but not used as evidence.
Schulberg later incorporated images from those films into “Nuremberg,” which remains startling even in a culture now familiar with scenes from the Holocaust. The footage exerted a powerful effect on the courtroom, changing the tenor of the proceedings and the attitude of the defendants, who ranged from former German air force chief Hermann Goering (sentenced to death) to one-time Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach (sentenced to 20 years in prison).
In a letter published in 1947 in Writers’ Quarterly, Stuart Schulberg described Goering as being jocular as the defendants arrived in court the day the atrocities were shown. “And then my father writes that an hour later, the smiles were wiped off their faces,” Sandra Schulberg recalled. “As many people who reported on the trial have written, that’s when they knew what they were up against.”
Perversely, the same images may have made the film unsuitable for American audiences — at least according to one theory about why the documentary never made it to the United States. Despite considerable lobbying by legendary documentarian Pare Lorentz, who produced the film, the War Department ultimately refused to release “Nuremberg” at home, even after Lorentz offered to buy and release it independently. The rapidly emerging politics of the Cold War likely played an additional role: Officials may have feared that the film would stir opposition to the Marshall Plan or that it was too positive about the Soviet Union, shown as America’s partner at the trial.
In the following decades, the film’s negative and soundtrack were lost — or possibly destroyed — but were restored after Sandra Schulberg rediscovered the movie “hiding in plain sight” in her mother’s apartment in 2003, nearly 25 years after her father’s death. The new “Nuremberg” features a reconstructed score, as well as rerecorded narration by actor Liev Schreiber that was almost unchanged from the original script. But “we didn’t touch a frame of the film,” Schulberg said.
Once viewed optimistically as a historical bookend, “Nuremberg” instead remains depressingly relevant — which is why Schulberg hopes the film will be viewed widely if belatedly, both in America and overseas. Once blocked by the War Department, the documentary was shown earlier this year in a private screening for graduates at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Even during production, the filmmakers were plagued by fears that “Nuremberg” would arrive too late in theaters. “They were originally hoping to get it out right after the trial,” Schulberg said, “and they were afraid that it wouldn’t seem relevant anymore.” But the delay may ultimately have worked in the film’s favor, she says — at least to a degree. Because of its extended time in production, Schulberg says, the documentary “was done with a kind of perspective that enabled them to make a film more for posterity…. What I find so amazing is that I think the film is just as relevant today, and in a way even more so — because the Nuremberg trial is no longer in the news.”
Nazi trial documentary, never before released in the U.S., proves significant and relevant.
Sept 29, 2010
-By Eric Monder
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was a 1948 film recounting the trial and conviction of several Nazi leaders, but after a brief run in Germany, the production was shelved. Now restored and simply titled Nuremberg, the documentary makes its U.S. premiere. Audience attendance is encouraged.
The first Nuremberg trial was organized by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson and took place between Nov. 20, 1945 and Oct. 1, 1946. Commissioned by the U.S. government, director Stuart Schulberg had the daunting task of matching audio recordings from the ten-and-a-half-month trial to the mere 25 hours of filmed material; he also had to pare down and incorporate the Nazis’ own incriminating footage and documents.
Meanwhile, Schulberg had to contend with internal politics—producer Pare Lorentz (The River) left in protest over the 1947 HUAC trials and was replaced by Eric Pommer (The Blue Angel). Later, the U.S. government shelved the film without explanation. Those who recently supervised the restoration, including Sandra Schulberg, daughter of the original director, and Josh Waletzky, discovered the reason: an attempt to distribute the film through the Hollywood studios failed because of the horrific nature of the subject matter. (Some still speculate that Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today would have caused problems and undermined support for the Allied plan to rebuild Germany.)
So how does the film look and sound today? Despite a few dated “March of Time”-style moments,Nuremberg is compelling stuff, summarizing the trial’s most vital details and following the prosecution as it retraces the Nazis’ rise and fall. If there is any major fault to the original film, there could have been more trial scenes and less Nazi history. (Those expecting a Judgment at Nuremberg-type, over-the-top melodrama will be disappointed.)
If there is any criticism to be made of the restoration, it is the omission of the history of the film itself, which would have told its own fascinating story and emphasized how such an “old movie” could be important to today’s generation. (Apparently, a forthcoming book by Sandra Schulberg will illuminate this and, presumably, if Nuremberg is released on DVD, a documentary of the documentary will become an “extra.”)
Still, seeing Nuremberg more or less as it would have been presented in 1948 is a valuable experience. We witness first-hand how the world responded in a civilized way (except for the use of the death penalty) to one of the most brutal injustices of modern history. We are also reminded about some of the lasting principles that arose from the trial—including judicial independence and the fact that no one is too big for the law but also no one is too small, where “passing the buck” is no excuse for criminal behavior.
Even if we never see the perpetrators of recent wars (e.g., the Iraq invasion) stand trial, war and war atrocities are an ever-present part of the modern world, making Nuremberg a must-see.
The first Nuremberg trial opened 65 years ago. It tends to be specifically remembered as a post-World War II expiation of the revulsion against the Nazis and generally regarded as an international precedent for defining and punishing war crimes. Americans may have not well understood the almost year-long proceeding as a fair, formal trial of the major Nazi leaders because the film intended by the U.S. chief prosecutor to document the legal process was never shown here.
The creation, disappearance, recovery, and complex restoration of the 1948 documentary, Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today, may be even more of a dramatic story than that film’s careful presentation of the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, the four-count indictment against 21 prominent Nazis, their defense, and the verdict. Most of what is seen in the movie was presented as evidence from compilation reels of footage made by Nazi authorities or the allied forces or culled from the only 25 filmed hours of the trial.
The visual documentation of the crimes and the reckoning were promulgated by Robert H. Jackson, who took leave from the U.S. Supreme Court to help set up the first-ever International Military Tribunal and lead the American legal team. The Office of Strategic Services Field Photographic Branch, charged with finding the Nazi footage, was led by director John Ford, who would film the trial. He supervised brothers Budd and Stuart Schulberg, sons of former Paramount studio chief B. P. Schulberg, in the hunt (which ranged from rescuing burning cans of film to corralling Leni Riefenstahl’s help) that resulted in the trial’s presentation of the four-hour The Nazi Plan and the one-hour Nazi Concentration Camps.
Legendary Depression-era documentarian Pare Lorentz, then head of film/theatre/music section at U.S. War Department’s Civil Affairs Division, commissioned Stuart Schulberg to write and direct a film that would methodically lay out the crimes and the trial as a somber lesson to a general audience. However, completing the film was complicated by internecine quarreling between the military and various government agencies during the editing (Lorentz quit, the Russians made their own version). The U.S. government showed the film only in Germany as part of de-Nazification efforts. The reasons for the limited release were murky at the time (possible Cold War re-jiggering of priorities when the Russians blockaded Berlin in 1948) and are even more mysterious now (probable commercial distributor resistance).
While clips from the evidentiary and trial footage have appeared in documentaries over the years, Stuart Schulberg’s family several years ago found a print of this forgotten film among their father’s papers. The restoration by his daughter Sandra, an experienced film producer, goes above and beyond technical preservation. She teamed up with documentarian Josh Waletzky (Partisans of Vilna) to track down a better quality print in German archives and undertook the meticulous chore of synchronizing the trial scenes with tapes of the actual courtroom audio, as well as adding the English narration by Liev Schreiber. These courtroom scenes uniquely elaborate beyond the images familiar from the History Channel and demonstrate how this first Nuremberg trial helped re-establish the civilized rule of law for war-weary Europe.
Many Americans view of the trials is probably influenced by Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg, which fictionalized a later case. There are two key differences in witnessing the real thing. First, the equal involvement of civilian allied prosecutors, who each present a charge. While Justice Jackson opens with the first count of intent of conspiracy, the British prosecutor presents count two of crimes against international peace, the French prosecutor submits the third count of crimes against humanity, and, probably significant for the film’s fate, the Russian prosecutor introduces the fourth count of war crimes for atrocities against prisoners of war and civilian populations, particularly in the east.
Second, unlike subsequent, perhaps more cathartic, trials in Nuremberg and elsewhere, it lacks emotional victim testimony. The very explicit evidence lies in the paper trail of the Nazis’ own documents, seen on screen, and the captured film footage, with a few shots Schulberg discovered shortly after the trial. The thoughtful, systematic, and unflinching presentation of the legal case makes this film relevant as a model for bringing charges in what would later became known as genocide. (At the press conference accompanying the film’s debut at the New York Film Festival, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen J. Rapp, cited a specific ruling from this case that was used as precedent recently in Rwanda.)
While this documentary is a very valuable and educational resource on its own, Christian Delage’s Nuremberg: The Nazis Facing Their Crimes(2006) features extensive interviews with Budd Schulberg about preparing the evidentiary films and the filming of the trial, including Ford’s technical difficulties in capturing the Nazis watching the footage in the courtroom, a memorable image not included in this documentary. That shaming would have made this film less of a lesson for the future, though, and probably would have not fit in with Justice Jackson’s intentions in approving the film, which matched his opening statement: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of law is one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason.” Nora Lee Mandel
Directed by Stuart Schulberg
Restoration directed by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky
2008 saw a glut of mediocre World War II or Holocaust films (Defiance, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Valkyrie), while last year reinvigorated the subgenre with Quentin Tarantino's controversial Inglourious Basterds. Perhaps due to the exhaustion of conventional Holocaust and/or WWII narratives, 2010 has so far been the year of the Holocaust documentary: Harlan: In the Shadow of "Jew Süss," A Film Unfinished, and now Nuremberg, a reconstituted version of the official 1948 U.S. government film about the International Military Tribunal created to prosecute the Nazi high command. Originally written and directed by Stuart Schulberg and restored by Schulberg's daughter Sandra more than six decades after the film's mysteriously canceled U.S. theatrical release, Nuremberg bears evidence of the constraints placed on its creators at the same time as it displays how they nonetheless fashioned a succinct and stirring account of a landmark subject. Since only 25 hours of courtroom footage were shot, Schulberg was forced to employ a narrator—the original soundtrack having been lost, Liev Schreiber now does the honors—and incorporate footage of the rallies, invasions, and atrocities committed under the Third Reich to augment aural documents (preserved in full) and the few visually captured courtroom scenes. Unlike Christian Delage's 2006 documentary Nuremberg: The Nazis Facing Their Crimes, which uses much of the same material, this Nuremberg is more in-the-moment, laying out the prosecution's case point by point, allowing the defense to incriminate itself with lame excuses, and showing the concentration camp images—images that had only just recently stunned the world—to speak for themselves.
By Ella Taylor
Delivering the news in the late 1940s that Universal Pictures would not release Stuart Schulberg's documentary about the 1945–1946 Nuremberg trials of 22 senior Nazi officers, the company's p.r. flack explained to the film's producers that "the subject matter and the way it is treated is altogether too gruesome to stomach." And right after World War II, when the breadth and depth of Third Reich war crimes was just beginning to surface, Nuremberg's ancillary footage, shot in ruined cities, ghettoes, and concentration camps by Nazi and Allied photographers and spliced with the trial by Schulberg and his famous brother, Budd, must indeed have been hard to take. Not that this was grounds for the studio (with covert agreement from the Truman administration, which had facilitated the making of the film) to decide that the American public couldn't handle a film that had been widely screened in Germany for two years.
Now that we are up to our necks in Holocaust iconography, are we unshockable? Is there a schoolchild in America who hasn't seen footage of the emaciated bodies piled high or flung into pits; the concentration-camp inmates staring hollow-eyed from their bunks, listless with hunger and disease; the mountains of gold teeth and shoes; starving city dwellers avidly licking the sides of empty garbage cans; a young woman being dragged along the ground by her hair? Does the release of a remastered Nuremberg at Film Forum, 60 years after the trial, add to the uncomfortable sense that we all may be perpetuating genocide porn?
Certainly it adds to our growing desensitization, though it's clear that was not the intention of Schulberg's daughter, Sandra, and Josh Waletzky, who supervised a painstaking restoration for the film's first theatrical release in North American theaters. With the addition of documents found in Stuart Schulberg's widow's apartment and sober narration by Liev Schreiber, Nuremberg is clearly a labor of love. It's also a posthumous restitution to the Schulberg brothers, who, as part of a special army unit led by John Ford, recorded footage outlining Hitler's expansion through Europe. The new version's most notable achievement, though, is enhancing the trial scenes with a refreshed soundtrack that allows us to actually hear the defendants' translated testimony, a tawdry ragbag of defiance, denial, rationalization, Hitler-blame, and mutual betrayal—and, once in a while, an expression of remorse corrupted by pleas for lenience. This testimony, along with close-ups of the impassive, contemptuous, angry, or fearful faces that go with it, may test even the most committed opponent of capital punishment.
Also loud and clear for the first time are American prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson's stirring addresses, which opened and closed the trial: "Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war," he famously said. If there's a takeaway for audiences today, it's a sad one of lessons ignored or flouted after half a century of global mass murder. If you were to Photoshop Pol Pot, Milosevic, Karadzic, or any of the world's many other self-appointed ethnic cleansers into the lineup along with these 22 war criminals, they wouldn't look out of place.
This long-lost doc on the Nazi war-crime trials finally gets a U.S. screening.
Look at the defendants’ box and they’re all there: Hess, Speer, Göring, Von Ribbentrop and other surviving members of the National Socialist Party’s top brass. Gathered together in postwar Nuremberg, Hitler’s henchmen listened to prosecutors detail the various atrocities they’d been accused of, both as individuals and as part of an administration that tore Europe apart. Some simply sat there; others had their heads in their hands, shaking back and forth. A few even expressed remorse when they stepped up to the witness stand. Viewers know how this courtroom drama ends, but to see the actual footage from the Nuremberg trials in such long, extended clips is shocking—mainly because this footage has been suppressed in North America for decades.
Originally shot and assembled by Stuart Schulberg, this recording of the famous indictments was banned by our government for reasons that are still murky. And while Sandra Schulberg’s restoration of her father’s film actually makes for a rather clunky update, complete with Liev Schreiber’s PBS-ready narration and that vestigial tail of a subtitle, it’s still an eye-opening find. Excerpts from the Nazis’ own films of their dirty work, used as evidence against them, will shock even the most jaded History Channel addict; these real-life horror films only underscore the monsters lurking beneath the docile men in that courtroom, awaiting history’s verdict.—David Fear
By LOU LUMENICK
The International Military Tribunal in Nu remberg, Germany, the first trial anywhere to prosecute crimes against humanity, became in 1945-46 the first judicial proceeding to also make extensive use of filmed evidence, compiled by a US military unit headed by director John Ford.
The first trial of 22 top German war criminals in World War II ran for nearly a year, with 25 hours filmed as well as a full audio record of the entire proceeding.
But while a powerful 78-minute documentary derived from this footage was widely shown in Germany as part of the de-Nazification process beginning in 1948, it was banned by US officials.
"Nuremberg" draws heavily on footage liberated from German archives as well as ghastly scenes shot at concentration camps by allied cameramen. It's been restored for its belated US premiere by Sandra Schulberg — the daughter of the original director, Navy Lt. Stuart Schulberg — and Josh Waletzky.
"Nuremberg," weaves testimony of the humbled defendants — including former Gestapo and SS commander Hermann Goering — with that of witnesses and damning photographic evidence of their atrocities.
This long-overdue restoration, taken from a print in a German archive, presents the film as it was originally shown, including a reconstruction of the original music track. Liev Schreiber has rerecorded the original narration.
The filming of what was originally titled "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" was proposed by Justice Robert H. Jackson, the American prosecutor who delivers the memorable opening and closing arguments at the trial.
Jackson thought this documentary would offer an enduring lesson for mankind — and 63 years later, it does so with great skill, a definitive rebuke to all Holocaust deniers.
By A. O. SCOTT
Published: September 28, 2010
The Nuremberg war crimes trials began in November 1945, six months after Germany’s defeat, on a continent still strewn with rubble and awash in displaced persons. The American military had commissioned Stuart Schulberg (brother of Budd) to make a documentary of the proceedings, believing that a visual record of Nazi crimes and of the legal process that would bring the perpetrators to justice was a crucial element to the reassertion of law and decency where barbarism had recently governed. The truth of what had been done by the defeated German regime and the fairness with which it was being addressed by the victorious powers needed to be shared with the world.
A fragment of Mr. Schulberg’s work arrives, belatedly and truncated, with “Nuremberg,” an assemblage of surviving footage that gains some power from its piecemeal state. The United States government never released his documentary (though it did later adapt some of his materials into a film called “Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today”), and the negative and soundtrack were lost or destroyed. Sandra Schulberg, the filmmaker’s daughter, and Josh Waletzky have now turned the surviving materials into something haunting and vivid — a version of the original that is also, implicitly, a record of its partial vanishing.
This “Nuremberg” does not exactly reveal anything new. Later trials of lesser officials inspired Stanley Kramer’s “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), a good, long feature with an all-star cast and a sober respect for history. And the Holocaust has been the subject of countless films of all kinds, especially in recent years, as the first-hand memory of survivors has begun to fade, and the children and grandchildren of both victims and perpetrators take up the burden of interpreting painful history. The shocking revelations that appear in Schulberg’s film are now well known.
But there is a raw immediacy in “Nuremberg” that nearly closes the gap between past and present. You don’t necessarily see images of slaughter and cruelty for the first time, but you grasp some of what it must have been like to do so — to uncover clips showing what most human beings up until then could never have imagined.
You also appreciate the systematic, scrupulous nature of the trials themselves, which combined legalistic punctiliousness with deep moral passion. The guiding spirit of the Nuremberg trials is worth recalling now, in the midst of the continuing argument about how to deal properly with enemies who show nothing but contempt for the norms of liberal society. The Nuremberg answer was to hold onto those norms with a special tenacity, to afford the accused precisely the acknowledgment of humanity that they had denied their victims. That they were allowed to defend themselves also meant that they had, in front of the world, to choose whether to admit their depravity, lie about it or try to justify it.
The roughness of the document takes some getting used to. There are large gaps in the record, and much of the sound is unsynchronized. Narration read by Liev Schreiber gives the film coherence and drama, but most of that comes from the images themselves.
Courtroom scenes — of Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer and others in the dock, listening on headphones as their deeds are enumerated and explained; of American, British, French and Soviet prosecutors explicating recent history; of defense lawyers and defendants trying to explain it away — alternate with footage, some taken from Nazi archives, of horrors that still boggle the mind. Emaciated bodies, mass graves, medical experiments — you may think these pictures are familiar, but they arrive with the sickening shock of discovery, and with the anguished question that must have been on many minds in 1945: how did this happen?
The question still awaits an answer, but “Nuremberg” shows that the essential nature of the Nazi regime was never in doubt: the arrogance, the dishonesty, the matter-of-fact embrace of evil. The excuses and second thoughts offered by some of the masterminds of genocide and conquest seem almost grotesquely comical. They wish they had said more, or known more, and they cast blame on the conveniently dead Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels for leading them and the rest of Germany so badly astray.
The verdicts and sentences, read out at the end, are almost anticlimactic, though if your 20th-century history is a little rusty, there is a bit of suspense and surprise. Some of the defendants in the first round of trials were executed, some imprisoned, and a few were acquitted. It may not have been enough — what could have been? — but what this documentary shows, from an unmediated, eyewitness perspective, is how a vital and indispensable principle of humanity was restored.
Opens on Wednesday in Manhattan.
Original 1948 film written and directed by Stuart Schulberg; edited by Joseph Zigman; music by Hans-Otto Borgmann; produced by Mr. Schulberg and Pare Lorentz. The 2009 restoration created by Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky; narrated by Liev Schreiber; music reconstructed by John Califra; released by Schulberg Productions and Metropolis Productions. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, west of Avenue of the Americas, South Village. In English and German, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 18 minutes. This film is not rated.
The recent restoration of “Nuremberg” at Film Forum (Sept 29-Oct 5) is not, strictly speaking, a pleasant viewing, but it is an important one. Over the decades, the true scope of Nazi atrocity has often been obscured or swathed in awards-baiting sentiment in glossy Hollywood films about hope, heroism, and even fantasy revenge.
Last year’s “Inglourious Basterds” barely touched on the actual Holocaust as justification for the titular gang’s over-the-top tactics: in that film’s most offensive scene, the “Basterds” brutally kill an ordinary German soldier—not a camp guard; not an SS officer—who refuses to put his fellow soldiers in danger. In this brand of flawed logic, any German not explicitly of Jewish descent is automatically assumed to be a Nazi. This is not righteous vengeance: this is nostalgic xenophobia. Moreover, “the Nazis” are once again turned into cartoon villains rather than actual people who committed actual war crimes on a staggering scale.
The Nuremberg trial was the first of its kind: an international tribunal assembled to prosecute genocide. “Nuremberg” intercuts some of the extensive recordings of this trial with the Nazis’ own footage, reappropriated post-war and used as evidence against them in damning montages: as Hitler’s inner circle and collaborators were condemned in court,
“Nuremberg” seeks to condemn them to the world and to posterity. “Nuremberg,” curiously never screened in the US until now, begins with shots of post-war Europe in ruins: buildings bombed to rubble, a lamppost bent at a stark angle, a woman scraping the inside of a trashcan for sustenance. Then we enter the courtroom itself, with sober narration by Liev Schreiber over grim-faced war criminals shifting uncomfortably in their seats (as they should, considering most ended up sentenced to hang or to face lengthy prison terms).
First, we are shown direct contradictions between Hitler’s words and actions in regard to foreign policy, as in a filmed speech where the Führer states that he does not intend to mobilize for war, that the German people don’t want to go to war: “Farmers want to till their land!” (Well, perhaps they could, if you hadn’t forced them to take Poland.) The Third Reich’s blatant dishonesty about its intent to invade surrounding countries continues: eventually, an animated map depicts Nazi influence spreading over the whole of Europe like a widening pool of spilt ink.
Then we are introduced to the camps and extermination programs, moving from Soviet prisoners-of-war to the insane and elderly to the Jews. (There is no mention of the Nazis’ persecution of gay men, as detailed in the documentary “Paragraph 175”—but then, the original version of “Nuremberg” was made in 1948.) We see a naked, emaciated man escorted into a building with attached pipes leading to a truck, where he is implied to be gassed by the Einsatzgruppen. We see endless stacks of shoes, hair, combs, and bones; a hand idly sifts through a box of jewelry and gold teeth stolen from the dead. We see hollow-cheeked bodies dragged over dirt roads and tossed into pits, and living people whose glassy stares and skeletal physiques barely differ. This is all far more powerful projected onto a big screen in the dark intimacy of a movie theatre than glimpsed in brief clips on the History Channel.
During the worst stretches, one wonders: why film this? After all, one must remember, these terrible images were captured by the Nazis themselves, presumably to be used to make themselves look good. The vile fact is that these prisoners and persecuted classes had become so dehumanized that filming their suffering and death must have marked a sort of self-congratulatory gloating over dubious victory. This tendency does not exist in a Nazi vacuum: think of Lynndie England and her smiling thumbs-up.
The Story of a Film, a Family and the Trial of the Century
By STEVE DOLLAR
It's textbook stuff, right? Watching Stuart Schulberg's documentary "Nuremberg" in junior high school history class was an experience shared by many Americans of a certain generation. At least, it seems so. What the schools actually showed, however, were other documentaries that used filmed excerpts from the Nuremberg trials, which in 1945 and 1946 brought the members of Hitler's inner circle—including Hermann Göring, Rudolph Hess and Albert Speer—to be judged for war crimes before an international military tribunal.
In reality, "Nuremberg" was exhibited all over Germany in the aftermath of World War II, but for reasons that remain unclear, it was never distributed in America. Until now. On Tuesday, a new restoration of "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today" will screen at the New York Film Festival. Then on Wednesday, it will begin a one-week run at Film Forum.
The restoration project was a labor of love for Schulberg's daughter, Sandra Schulberg, a movie producer, Columbia University professor, and niece of Budd Schulberg, the Oscar-winning screenwriter ("On the Waterfront") who also played an essential role in making the original film. The family legacy is undeniable, but Ms. Schulberg said that taking up the project wasn't as easy as it might sound.
"I could have been my father's daughter and not attempted this had I not been a filmmaker," she said. "If I had been a dentist, I would have been overwhelmed at the idea." After watching a German-language version of the documentary at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival, Ms. Schulberg's curiosity was further aroused when she began poring through an inventory of her father's documents that she inherited after her mother's death. "They made it pretty clear that this was an untold story, long buried."
Now that the restoration is complete and the film will begin circulating, Ms. Schulberg (who collaborated with the filmmaker and sound designer Josh Waletzky on the project) has come to terms with the suppression of her father's work —whether it was by Hollywood or the government, which was advancing the Marshall Plan. "If Americans had seen this film at the time, it would have reopened the wounds of the war, would have reminded people of the horrific, horrific atrocities that occurred," she said. "Truman was trying to win the peace."
The story of the making of "Nuermberg" is worthy of its own film. In the summer of 1945, the Schulberg brothers, Stuart (1922-79) and Budd (1914-2009), under the command of legendary director John Ford in Washington D.C., led a team from the OSS Field Photographic Branch on a four-month mission to find films and photographs to be used as evidence against the Nazis at Nuremberg. Reels of film were snatched from fires thought to have been set by one of the German film editors assisting the brothers. Budd Schulberg personally apprehended Leni Riefenstahl at her Austrian chalet to work alongside him in the editing room as a material witness. "She thought she was being arrested as a war criminal," Ms. Schulberg said of the infamous Nazi propagandist.
Restoring the brothers' effort became a case of history repeating itself. "We had to start over from scratch," Ms. Schulberg said. The complete trial was recorded on audio, but only 25 hours of film footage was shot, which, as in 1947, made synchronization of sound and image a creative act. Then as now, much coverage is provided by a narrator, a role filled in the restoration by actor Liev Schreiber.
"Having done so much work on and around the subject of the Holocaust, I had become a little shy of the subject," Mr. Schreiber said. "But I had no idea how compelling [this] was. I had no idea."
One observer deeply shaken by the restored film is Ernest Michel, the 87-year-old founder of the United Jewish Appeal, who witnessed the first Nuremberg trial as a reporter for the German news agency DANA. Mr. Michel was then a 22-year-old survivor of the concentration camps whose byline often identified him as "Former Inmate of Auschwitz 104995."
"I had to really control myself," Mr. Michel said, recalling his presence at the trial, where he sat mere feet from Göring. Last week, he shared a table in his offices with Ms. Schulberg following the NYFF press screening of "Nuremberg," having just watched the film for the first time in decades. "This film, it affected me. I must say, it really bowled me over."
Remastered and restored, with new narration by Liev Schreiber, the Allies’ original documentary about the Nuremberg trials is a riveting piece of historical evidence, more powerful than any fictional courtroom drama could hope to be.
Nuremberg was originally suppressed in the U.S. by the War Department with little explanation, though it’s possible that the government didn’t want to impede public acceptance of its plans to rebuild the German economy. Implausibly enough, Film Forum’s screening of Stuart Schulberg’s 1948 documentary marks the film’s U.S. premiere.
New York Film Fest Review: ‘Nuremberg’
By Joe Bendel
In 1949, American service men were risking their lives to defy the Soviet Union’s Berlin Blockade, while taxpayers were spending billions on the Marshal Plan to rebuild the German economy. Perhaps for these reasons, Hollywood studios were not eager to distribute Stuart Schulberg’s Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, a U.S. Army Signal Corps-produced film documenting the Nuremberg tribunal and the crimes for which the National Socialists stood accused. Though it played throughout Germany as part of the de-Nazification campaign, it is only now reaching American theaters in a special restored version, beginning with a special screening this coming Tuesday as part of the 2010 New York Film Festival.
Schulberg and his brother Budd (of What Makes Sammy Run fame) were attached to the OSS’s film division when they were assigned to work on special films at the behest of U.S. Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson. The resulting four hour The Nazi Plan, consisting of the Nazis’ own footage and the one-hour Nazi Concentration Camps, compiling film shot by the liberating allies, were indeed shown as evidence during the tribunal—with select clips also incorporated into Nuremberg.
With Nuremberg, Schulberg was greatly constrained by the availability of footage. Only 25 hours of video was shot and the audio was recorded separately, out of synch. As a result, his cuts relied entirely on narration. However, Schulberg’s filmmaker daughter Sandra and Josh Waletzky replaced some narration with the actual audio recorded during the tribunal for their restoration, rerecording the rest with Liev Schreiber. Unfortunately the prospective American nitrate prints had deteriorated beyond use for the so-called “Schulberg-Waletzky Restoration,” but the surviving German print frankly seems more appropriate, given its role in the de-Nazification process.
There are indeed some horrific images in Nuremberg, as well as a succinct “Cliff Note” guide to the tribunal. Arguably understanding of Nuremberg is a mile wide and an inch deep. For instance, our current President once favorably cited the military tribunal in his own opposition to military tribunals. It is certainly also worth bearing in mind that the Nuremberg Tribunal returned three acquittals.
Had Nuremberg reached American theaters in 1949, it would have shocked audiences. Educated viewers should still be sickened by the crimes Stuart Schulberg documented, but they ought to be somewhat prepared for them. To be sure, Nuremberg is a historically significant film, but it is hardly the definitive documentary on the Holocaust.
Viewers should also take note: if the NYFF post-screening panel is anything like the press conference, it is likely to resemble a politically charged advocacy session on behalf of the International Criminal Court, which would push the boundaries of decorum, considering the gravity of the film’s subject. Recommended (particularly for the historically challenged), Nuremberg screens this coming Tuesday (Sept. 28) at NYFF, with its regular New York theatrical run beginning the next day (Sept. 29) at Film Forum.
For Sandra Schulberg, a sense of obligation surrounded her restoration of her father's film of the historic Nazi trial.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Special To The Jewish Week
The road from Auschwitz to Nuremberg is a twisting, uncertain one. Some of the Nazis who walked it did so in shackles, much deserved. For others, it was a liberation in the most profound sense. Ernest Michel was one of those lucky few.
"I was only 10 years old when Hitler came to power," says Michel, the executive vice president emeritus of UJA-Federation of New York. "My whole life was affected by living under the cloud of the Nazis."
Michel would survive Auschwitz to become a journalist covering the Nuremberg Trial in 1945. So it is understandable that he has taken a rooting interest in the restored and — at long last — released film "Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today," which will play at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 28, a day before its theatrical premiere at Film Forum.
Sandra Schulberg took a gentler, circuitous route to Nuremberg through the film itself, but her connection to it is direct, even intimate. Her father, Stuart Schulberg, was the original director, and her uncle, screenwriter and novelist Budd Schulberg, had been deeply involved in assembling the five hours of film footage that were used by Allied prosecutors in the trial, some of which can be seen in the film itself.
"Nuremberg" was widely shown in Germany during 1948 and 1949, as part of the postwar campaign of de-Nazification and re-education. But due to the Cold War rush to revive the German economy so that the former Third Reich could be a bulwark against Communism, the film was never shown in the United States. As a result, the English-language version of the film was never properly completed, let alone shown to American audiences.
Seeing the film restored by Schulberg and Josh Waletzky inevitably brings back harsh memories for Michel. Born and raised in Mannheim, Germany, he hadn't planned on a career in journalism, and ultimately chose another path, serving over 60 years with UJA. But even as a child he had been fascinated by history, never expecting that history would have its own plans for him.
"I loved history, I used to cut out newspaper articles and keep them in a scrapbook," he says. Michel is a remarkably calm and collected man, dapper in a gray suit. He speaks quietly, smiles easily, if sometimes ruefully. "When I was in the sixth grade I was kicked out of school [for being Jewish], and I never went back. I was arrested in 1939 and spent the next 5 ½ years in concentration camps."
When the camps were liberated and the war ended, Michel found work as an interpreter for the U.S. military government in his hometown. One day, the lieutenant who supervised him introduced him to a Captain Picard –- "even now I remember his name," Michel notes with a little laugh.
Picard told him that the war crimes trials in Nuremberg would be starting shortly and "we are looking for individuals who are not Nazis," Michel recalls. What Picard was doing was staffing a new German-language news service, DANA.
"He asked me, 'Do you know how to write well? If you are interested we will brief you and teach you what you need to know,'" Michel continues. "I accepted the job. My articles were in all the German newspapers and the U.S. service paper 'Stars and Stripes.'"
His byline read "By Ernest Michel, Auschwitz Survivor # 104995."
He has come from a screening of the film and he says, "Today, I was very upset [by the film]. The first time I saw it was from a professional point-of-view, but today I saw it as a survivor who had lived through it. I was very shaken by it. That's why I agreed to be there with Sandra. I feel it's an obligation; I believe there's a reason why I survived."
Schulberg, whose childhood and film career have taken her all over the world, felt an obligation to restore her father's film, not because it was her father's film but because its message still resonates, and the film is as topical as if it had been made in the last week rather than in the last century.
She invokes the words of Justice Robert Jackson's closing statement at the trial: "This trial is part of the great effort to make the peace more secure. It constitutes juridical action of a kind to ensure that those who start a war will pay for it personally. Nuremberg stands as a warning to all those who plan and wage aggressive war."
And she notes that her father chose to end the film with that statement. She adds, "We all need to ask ourselves the question of how we can promote peace instead of war.
"You know the Torah portion when Abraham is called by God and answers 'Hineni' [Here I am]," she says. "That's why I started this project. It's a strange echo for me, the idea of being called and whether you're going to answer. If I hadn't been a professional filmmaker, it wouldn't have occurred to me, but if not me, who? It was a choice but it wasn't."
Schulberg is 60; the film was not available for 62 years. This project was in some ways a culmination of her own odyssey back to and through Judaism.
"The older you get the more aware you become of your role in the generational chain — my existence in this continuum [of Jewish history]," she says with a quiet passion. "I've been on a path long before I saw my father's film. These paths ended up meeting each other."
No such slipperiness infects Nuremberg, the U.S. government's official 1948 film about the Nuremberg trials that, because of political concerns, has never played in U.S. theaters—until now, in a new 35mm restoration created by Sandra Schulberg (daughter of the film's director, Stuart Schulberg) and Josh Waletzky. Also a documentary, the film intercuts footage from the trials with the Nazis's own film footage of the atrocities they committed during the Holocaust. In other words, as The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceauşescu tries to use Ceauşescu's own footage to condemn him, so does Schulberg use the Nazis's own filmed records against them.
Being an official U.S. government film (one that was distributed in Germany as part of its de-Nazification program), Nuremberg, subtitled Its Lesson for Today, doesn't deal much with political or moral nuance; unlike Stanley Kramer's fictionalized Judgment at Nuremberg from 1961, the question of whether some of these Nazi war criminals ought to be condemned for their ignorance in merely following the orders of the state is never really broached. Are some of the criminals' expressions of remorse genuine? That's for another movie to determine. The chief interest of Nuremberg, then, is principally historical—and timeless. In light of, say, the continuing atrocities in Darfur, Sudan, or past instances of ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Bosnia, the lessons of the Nuremberg trials still reverberate to this day.
Prisoners march in rows. People eat from garbage cans. A Nazi soldier throws a body into a pit. American audiences were seeing these images for the first time. They were part of “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,” a 62-year old documentary that transports viewers to a disturbing moment and place in history: the Nuremberg courtroom in 1945, with the Nazi war crimes trial unfolding before our eyes.
“Nuremberg” uses 25 hours of original footage from the war and its aftermath, including two films that the trial’s prosecutors presented as evidence. The familiar narrative from history books plays live on the screen. The prosecution first accuses the Nazis of attempting unjust war by attacking their former allies and then arrives at its most chilling accusations: war crimes and crimes against humanity—in other words, the Holocaust. As they defend themselves, Nazi leaders’ voices are loud and clear and the footage is raw.
The movie, which first came out in Stuttgart in 1948, was supposed to premiere in America shortly thereafter. Commissioned by the United States War Department to show that Nazi leaders were given a fair trial—and to illustrate the consequences of their actions—“Nuremberg” would explain how America had brought justice to the world.
But by the time the film was ready to cross the Atlantic, says Sandra Schulberg—director Stuart Schulberg’s daughter—America was no longer Germany’s enemy and the United States government did not want Americans to perceive Germany as an adversary. Following the outbreak of the Cold War, the US instead preferred its citizens to demonize the Soviet Union, which appears as an ally in the film—with Soviet soldiers sitting next to Americans on the bench. Now, 20 years after the fall of the USSR, Sandra Schulberg has finally restored the movie for North American release, working with film editor Josh Waletsky to reconstruct the soundtrack and bring the movie into the 21st century.
A decades-long delay has not dulled the film’s capacity to shock its audience and live up to its subtitle, “Its Lesson for Today.” “Nuremberg” opens with a woman emerging from a hole into a destroyed landscape: Europe is in ruins. The camera then moves to the courthouse for what Robert Jackson, the chief American judge, calls “the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world.” He praises the decision to subject the Nazis to trial as “one of the most significant tributes that power has ever paid to reason.”
The film seeks to prove that reconstruction necessitates justice. Jackson ends the movie by declaring, “Nuremberg stands as a warning to all those who plan and wage aggressive war.”
This documentary is a needed addition to the catalog of Holocaust films. It provides detailed and gripping documentation of the atrocities that the Nazis committed and of their trials. The footage feels immediate, allowing the viewer to live through the moments, and speaks to the generations born after the war—an exhortation to fight against present genocides and crimes against humanity. “Nuremberg” displays how animalistic civilization can become, but also shows the power of justice.
The movie closes with the camera shifting from the courtroom to a crucifixion. The statue is not there to Christianize an essentially Jewish tragedy but rather to pay credence to the better side of our nature. Throughout the war, unspeakable crimes shook the Judeo-Christian ethics that had served as the foundation of our society. “Nuremberg” has rich historical significance as both a document of the trial and as a raw account of Nazi atrocities, but most important is that it shows how we reclaimed those values.
By DAVID STROMBERG
A German-language film documenting the Nuremberg trials has been restored in English more than 60 years later.
In 1948 as part of the US government’s propagandistic efforts to denazify and reeducate the German public, a German-language film documenting the Nuremberg trials was released under the name Nüremberg: Its Lesson for Today (in German, Nürnberg und seine Lehre). Although an English-language version was prepared, it was shelved and never widely released theatrically in the United States for political reasons. Now, more than 60 years later, the film has been restored and is featured on the penultimate day of the Jerusalem Film Festival.
The film’s writer/director Stuart Schulberg had already been part of a team commanded by the great Hollywood director John Ford. He had been sent to Germany along with his brother, writer Budd Schulberg, in 1945 to compile Nazi footage that would serve as evidence for the upcoming proceedings in Nuremberg. He was sent back after the trial to prepare the film that would show the German people (and the world) that the Allies gave their enemies the kind of chance to defend themselves in court that the Nazisnever once afforded others. The film was restored by Stuart Schulberg’s daughter, Sandra Schulberg, and Josh Waletzky, under the title Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today(The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration).
Ms. Schulberg started working on the project in 2004. “It took me a long time to raise the money. Not that it cost so much, but it was difficult as an individual to be taken seriously in terms of film restoration.”
She later teamed up with Josh Waletzky, a director who had started out as a sound designer, and who became her main creative partner on the project.
“After my mother passed away, I inherited all these documents as well as a copy of the film,” she says. “It had been sitting on a bookshelf which was used for holding the television and other things.”
The documents, which she soon realized had a historical value, “told the story of the making of the film... Suddenly experts and archivists were coming to see them – and I learned how important they were.”
Billed by its restorers as “one of the greatest courtroom dramas in history” and “one of the most historic films never seen,” the film closely follows the proceedings of the famous trial. It points out the trial’s dependence on evidence left behind by the Nazis themselves, in particular notes, memos, letters and even filmed footage. It also portrays the Nazi government as “burning” German freedom in what the prosecution claimed was a conspiracy.
The film gives us a picture of the kinds of behind-the-scenes machinations that Hitlerand his followers set upon in their orchestration of the Reichstag fire, Austria’s “request” to send German troops and Czechoslovakia’s “agreement” that Bohemia and Moravia become German protectorates. It provides numerous examples of Hitler publicly stating that he had no intention of invading any of his European neighbors, together with internal correspondence in which he is recorded to have said, “I did not organize the armed forces in order not to strike.”
Only after the Nazi authorities are established as being a calculated belligerent government – conspiring and then acting on their plans to disturb European peace – are the issues of anti-Semitic policy and Jewish genocide addressed. This happens at the end of the prosecution’s case in a kind of climax of horror, incorporating footage from Nazi Concentration Camps and The Nazi Plan, films compiled under the supervision of Budd Schulberg created as courtroom evidence to show the raw reality of Nazi inhumanity.
After the American, British, French and Soviet representatives of the prosecution rest their case, the defense has its chance to make its case, and we are shown the way that each Nazi leader tried to pretend that either he didn’t know about what was really going on or he had no power to prevent it. Several express their deep disappointment at Hitler’s betrayal of their “idealism.”
One important feature of the film is that the audience hears the actual voices of these men as they utter their words. “In the original version it was all narration – you never heard the voices of those in the courtroom,” says Schulberg. “I felt it was important to hear the voices of the accused and the lawyers trying to defend them.
Fortunately, the whole trial was recorded in sound in all these different languages. What we had to do was match them up.”
Indeed, one of the stronger moments of the film comes at the end in the form of a last statement from accused Nazi leader Albert Speer – himself guilty of being a facilitator of aggression – warning against the dangers of authoritarianism. “Following orders blindly,” he says, “turned out to be a mistake.”
Because the film was never released, today’s viewers seeing it for the first time are, in a sense, put in the shoes of wartime survivors. It takes us back to a historical moment in which these men’s fates were not yet decided. We are given a glimpse into the process through which some of them were sentenced to hang, some given prison terms and a few acquitted. And we are shown in striking black and white that even promises of nonaggression are sometimes followed by catastrophic war.
By HANNAH BROWN
A range of hard-hitting documentaries from Israel and abroad steal the spotlight at the continuing Jerusalem Film Festival.
So far, the buzz this year at the 27th Jerusalem Film Festival, which ends on Saturday night, is about the documentaries. There are so many excellent ones, both from Israel and abroad, on a wide variety of topics.
People have been talking about Budrus, a movie competing in the “In the Spirit of Freedom” competition for films about human rights issues.
Directed by Julia Bacha, who codirected the equally fine film, Encounter Point (2006), it looks at a West Bank village where the residents use peaceful means to protest Israel’s construction of the security fence.
We’ve all seen demonstrations that turn into riots and end with casualties, but it’s rare to see non-violent protests.
The film, which features interviews with villagers behind the protests and also with Israeli soldiers given the unenviable task of trying to disburse the demonstrators. Although it shows Israeli troops using force to break up the demonstrations, it also shows footage of bus bombings and makes very clear that the purpose of the fence is to protect civilians.
But the message of the film, which sets it apart from many movies that vilify the IDF, is that the villagers’ months of protests paid off, and they were successful in convincing the Israeli government to change the route of the fence, so it did not cut them off from most of their land. As one interviewee says, “Nothing scares the IDF more than non-violent protests,” and, apparently, nothing is more persuasive. To learn more about the film, go to the Website at http://www.justvision.org/en/budrus
No filmmaker at the festival has worked harder to bring her film to the light of day than Sandra Schulberg, who is here with the documentary, Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today[The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration], which she brought back to life.
Schulberg’s father, director Stuart Schulberg, worked for the OSS Field Photo/War Crimes Unit, amassing photographic and filmic evidence of Nazi crimes after World War II in preparation for the Nuremberg trial.
For the US War Department, he then made the official documentary about the Nuremberg trial of the top Nazi war criminals. This documentary was shown widely in Germany in 1948 and 1949, since its initial purpose was to explain to the German people why allied prosecution teams were putting their leaders on trial. And then the film virtually disappeared.
“The Defense Department, which up until then had been called the Department of War, decided not to release it in the US,” says Schulberg.
She cites several reasons for this odd decision, the first of which was that it was considered “too complex – now the Russians were our enemies, not the Germans.” A second factor was that some in the Defense Department were queasy about putting military officers on trial.
Others worried that the atrocity footage would be too shocking for ordinary audiences, while there were other, political concerns that showing the film would erode support for the Marshall Plan, which included rebuilding Germany and jumpstarting its economy.
Whatever the reasons, the English language version was never properly completed and “the film languished for decades.” Schulberg knew about it because of her father, but he died young and they never spoke about it. But when she saw the German version of it in 2004, she realized, “This is one of the greatest anti-war films of all time, as well as having great historical importance." For more than five years, she struggled to restore the picture negative and reconstruct the soundtrack for the documentary.
The finished film had its world premiere at The Hague in November, then was shown at the Berlin Film Festival. The next stop for the movie after Jerusalem is the New York Film Festival this fall and then a theatrical release. For more information on the film, visit the Website at www.nurembergfilm.org
Another documentary that has received enthusiastic responses is The Last Survivor, which was directed by Michael Pertnoy, a guest at the festival, and Michael Kleiman.
This complex film weaves together the stories of several survivors and refugees. These include Hedi Fried, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, who organizes support groups for survivors of genocide and their children; Jacqueline Murekatete, a survivor of the massacres in Rwanda; Justin Semahoro Kimenyerwa, who saw many members of his tribe perish in killings in the Congo; and Adam Bashar, who fled Darfur and now works for the Tel Aviv municipality. The film’s Website is www.thelastsurvivor.com
By Catherine Bekunda
THE Police have apologised for having stopped the screening of a film on the trial of prominent members of the leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany after the World War II. The film, The Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, had been scheduled to be shown at 8:00pm on Friday at Watoto Church in Kampala.
However, three Police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) stormed the church and stopped the organisers from showing it.
Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the deputy CID director, Moses Sakira, apologised to all the stakeholders.
“Yes, we have apologised to the lady who had organised it, the church and the people who had come to watch the film,” Nabakooba said in an interview.
She said the Police chief, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, had ordered the CID boss, Edward Ochom, to investigate the officers involved.
The Watoto church show would have been the first public viewing in Africa.
Nuremberg shows how the international prosecutors built their case against the top Nazi war criminals using the Nazi’s own films and records.
The trial established the “Nuremberg principles”— the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against humanity. It is being shown in the context of the discussions at the International Crinimal Court (ICC) review conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo on war crimes.
By Felix Osike
POLICE on Friday blocked the screening of a film on the trial of prominent members of the leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany after the World War II.
According to Sandra Schulberg of Schulberg Productions, New York, the African premiere of the newly-restored 1948 feature-length documentary film, Nuremberg: Its lesson for today,” was stopped at 7:45pm, a few moments before the film was to start showing at Watoto Church in downtown Kampala.
CID officials carried away both DVD copies of the film that had been provided, as well as DVDs of the other films in the Cinema for Peace series that were to be screened at Watoto Church next week. Police also removed several of the leaflets posted on church bulletin boards announcing Nuremberg’s screening.
Police Deputy Spokesman for Kampala Metropolitan, Henry Kalulu, confirmed CID officials stopped the screening. “We had got information from some people which required verification. Our operatives from the CID went there for verification. But it was finally sorted out,” Kalulu said.
Twenty-four major political and military leaders of Nazi Germany, indicted for aggressive war, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, were brought to trial on November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946 before the International Military Tribunal set up by the main victorious allied forces of the World War II.
More than 100 additional defendants, representing many sectors of German society, were tried before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals in a series of 12 trials known as “Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings”.
Although widely shown in cinemas in Germany after it was completed in 1948, the US government decided not to release it in US theatres or anywhere else in the world for various political reasons.
The Watoto Church screening would have been the first public showing in Africa.
The film has not been shown publicly yet in the United States. It will be shown for the first time to the American public on September 26 at the New York Film Festival and open in a regular cinema on September 29.
“I had just completed my introduction, and was about to sit down when I was informed that there was a problem. I assumed it was a problem with the projection equipment, so I rose again with microphone in hand to give the audience some more background information on the film while we waited,” explained Schulberg.
Schulberg is one of the delegates attending the International Criminal Court conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo and wants to show the film in the context of the ICC meeting in Kampala over crimes of aggression and other war crimes.
She further explained, “It was while standing at the front of the auditorium that one of the event organisers from the Cinema for Peace Foundation came to inform me that in the delay was not being caused by a projection problem, but rather by Ugandan government officials.”
She said she left auditorium in hope of meeting with the officials. “In the lobby, the Watoto Church media manager Barigayomwe Paul Roy pointed out the man who was head of the unit, and I was told he was with CID (Criminal Investigations Department).
I introduced myself and asked him if it was really necessary to halt the screening and, if so, why. He said I would receive a letter of explanation, but refused to give me is name or his card,” she stated. Roy yesterday said, “We cancelled the show and apologised to the audience.”
He said Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Belgium, Mirjam Blaak, protested to the Police. The film was written and produced by Pare Lorentz and Stuart Schulberg for the US based on a script by Stuart Schulberg that was approved by the Chief US Prosecutor of the trial, Robert H. Jackson, who was a Justice of the US Supreme Court at the time.
The film was first screened on June 2 at Speke Resort Munyonyo to ICC delegates. It was due to be screened June 6 at the Commonwealth Banquet Hall Munyonyo and June 9 and 11 at Speke Resort Munyonyo.
Film that revealed extent of Hitler’s World War II atrocities finally makes its North American debut, 62 years later
By Peter Howell Movies Columnist
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today has been called “one of the most historic films never seen,” even though it concerns something that can never be forgotten: the Nazi brutality of World War II.
The 1948 documentary revealed in the starkest of terms the extent of Nazi complicity in the war and Hitler’s genocidal policy against the Jews and others. The film is framed by footage of the post-war Nuremberg trial, in which many of Hitler’s most dedicated disciples were brought to justice.
Yet Nuremberg is only now receiving its North America premiere, which will happen 7 p.m. Sunday at the Bloor Cinema, as a major presentation at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (April 17-25, details at www.tjff.com).
The film was viewed widely in Germany, but it is almost unknown on this side of the Atlantic. U.S. authorities sought to keep it out of North American theatres, fearful that it would provoke a taxpayers’ revolt against the European rebuilding policy known as the Marshall Plan, which included funds for reconstruction of Germany.
The suppression of the film occurred even though Nuremberg was made under the authority of the U.S. War Department and the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor of the CIA. The director was Stuart Schulberg, the youngest member of the field photo/war crimes unit of the OSS. He was the brother of Budd Schulberg, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of On the Waterfront who also worked for the OSS during the war. Nuremberg makes extensive use of evidentiary footage of Nazi atrocities gathered by Budd Schulberg’s team, which was presented at the Nuremberg trial.
Hollywood producer Sandra Schulberg (Quills), the daughter of Stuart and niece of Budd, has spent the past five years restoring Nuremberg and preparing it for the wide audience it never previously had.
“I’d like to think that our world — as it gets smaller and as communication barriers break down — is slowly but surely making progress towards the day when it is unthinkable that we commit crimes against the peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she wrote via email.
“And I hope that, by making Nuremberg accessible at last, I can play a tiny role in hastening that day.”
Prior to coming to Toronto to attend Sunday’s screening, Schulberg wrote to The Star about her work with fellow filmmaker Josh Waletzky, quoting in parts from an essay she wrote about the project:
Q. What made you want to take on the immense project of restoring Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today?
A. Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick invited me to curate a series of 40 Marshall Plan/ERP films for the 2004 Berlinale, and he proposed that we launch the series with a screening of Nuremberg. He wanted contemporary German audiences to understand how remarkable it was that Germany had been included in the Marshall Plan at all, and felt that the film would convey the immense psychological barrier that stood between Germany and her former enemies in the immediate postwar period.
To the best of my recollection, it was the first time I had seen my father’s Nuremberg film, which was made before I was born. And I then became interested in what had become of the English version. If I were not a professional film producer, it might never have occurred to me to restore the film and try to get it released in the U.S. But faced with the facts — the fascinating mystery of what had happened to Nuremberg after its German release — this seemed to be my “schicksal,” my fate. “If not I, then who?” I thought. “If not now, when?”
Q. What shape was the film in when you and Josh Waletzky began working on it? How much work and time did it take to restore it?
A. The original negative and sound elements had been lost or destroyed, so we were faced with the question of which positive print to use. We had planned to use a 35mm print at NARA (U.S. National Archives & Records Administration), kept in cold storage in Kansas. On close inspection, however, the image was too degraded and the contrast too high. Another NARA print and two duplicate negatives were worse candidates. They also varied in length, which meant film frames or whole shots had been cut.
The German Bundesarchiv (Germany’s National Archive, headquartered in Berlin) then fortunately agreed to ship one reel of its best 35m “lavender” print — a fine grain master positive. Once we saw that first reel, we breathed a deep sigh of relief, and requested the other seven reels on loan. They were also in good condition, with minimal shrinkage.
Q. You seem to have taken the decision not to change anything. For example, the German headlines in newspapers don’t have English subtitles. Was there much debate about this, and why did you choose to go the “no tampering” route?
A. It is true that I made a decision early on not to alter the original picture in any way — a decision that was reinforced by all my archival consultants ...
Since the German version was the only version released to theatres, we all agreed that this should be considered the original, uncut version of the film. They also counselled not to “clean up” the picture, which could have been done digitally (though it would have been an extremely expensive process). That means that the new negative and the subsequent release prints show the original wear and tear on the film — printed-in dirt, scratches, splices, wandering frame lines, etc.
Q. Who made the decision in 1948 to ban the film from U.S. theatres? How far up the political chain of command did this decision go? Were Canadian politicians or bureaucrats involved in this, and Canada included in the ban, to your knowledge?
A. I wish I knew the answer to this question. None of the documents unearthed so far attributes specific names or titles in the chain of command. And by the way, I’m not sure I could go so far as to use the word “ban.” It makes for good publicity now — “Banned in the USA!” — but I think it was more complex than that. I think the War and State Department officials faced a real and complex dilemma, and there may not have been unanimity. Last summer, for instance, we (my senior archival researcher Lisa Hartjens) found a remarkable letter from Universal Pictures saying that the film was much too gruesome to show to an “entertainment-seeking” public, so I now think there were people in the administration who were making a bona fide effort to have the film distributed by a major studio. We’ve found nothing to suggest that Canadian authorities were consulted about the decision.
Q. The film is described as “controversial” in terms of U.S. attitudes in 1948, but was there in fact a debate about it in North America at the time? Or did bureaucrats simply block it from this side of the Atlantic, judging it to be potentially controversial?
A. I’ve described the decision as “controversial” because the three investigative news stories (by reporter John Norris) published in the Washington Post in September 1949 quote well-known writers and journalists (e.g., William Shirer, John Gunther, Walter Winchell) who declare themselves to be outraged that the government is sitting on the film. Winchell went on to write a column in The Daily Mirror that he titled “Hall of Shame,” in which he excoriated the unnamed government officials. At that time, no one would go on record for the Washington Post story about the decision. We also found letters sent by Pare Lorentz (actually by his attorney), who offered to buy the film from the War Department so that he could release it on his own. But his offer was refused. Many years later, he discussed his frustration in an interview.
And Justice Robert H. Jackson commented on his frustration with the situation. Jackson had played a key role — perhaps a first for a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court — in approving the Schulberg script, and later approving the version completed for German release. Later, he apparently requested a print to show at a meeting of the N.Y. Bar Association, but wound up having to show the Soviet film about the trial, Sud Narodov (Judgment of the People), instead.
Q. There seems to have been serious concern that the film’s revelations of Nazi atrocities would hamper the rebuilding efforts of the Marshall Plan. Do you think people would have rebelled against rebuilding Germany if the film had been widely seen?
A. I think it is possible that if Nuremberg had been widely released in U.S. theatres during 1949 it could have soured segments of the American public on the notion of rebuilding Germany, which was a major plank of the European Recovery Program — known more colloquially as the “Marshall Plan.”
Q. I was surprised to learn from the film that not all of the high-ranking Nazis tried at Nuremberg received death sentences. Albert Speer and Rudolph Hess, for example, were given life imprisonment. Do you know why there was such disparity in the sentencing?
A. Because the English-language version of Nuremberg was never properly completed or officially released, people have never really had a chance to see how the Nuremberg trial was actually conducted. Even people involved as prosecutors at the trial were never given the opportunity to see it. And of course, today, more than 60 years later, there are many people alive who really don’t know anything about the trial ...
I am not an expert on the Nuremberg trial, but on the surface the verdicts seem to indicate that punishment, let alone execution, was not simply rammed through. The trial continues to be analyzed and critiqued by modern jurists and historians to this day (as it should be), but I think there is nonetheless a consensus that it was conducted judiciously.... It certainly represented — and continues to represent — a milestone for society.
Original film from 1948 uses unseen film and audio from the war-crimes courts, but was never released in North America
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today is the original holocaust film. The 1948 documentary by Stuart Schulberg chronicled the post-war prosecution of Nazi war criminals in Germany, but the English version of the film was never completed and thus never shown in North America. Until now.
On April 18, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival is presenting the North American premiere of the prescient film, which has been restored by the director’s daughter, independent producer Sandra Schulberg. “I felt it was my duty and a historical imperative to restore the film,” says Ms. Schulberg, who is scheduled to attend Sunday’s screening. “I’m surprised how powerful an impact it’s had so far. Many people are familiar with the cinematography, but have never seen it in the context of the trial.”
Army cameramen filmed only 25 hours of the 11-month trial, but a complete sound recording was made. In addition, a special OSS unit commanded by Hollywood director John Ford – which included Schulberg and his older brother Budd (best know for writing On The Waterfront) – was dispatched to Europe to find incriminating photographic evidence to use at trial. During this urgent search, German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was caught and used to identify Nazi officers in the found footage.
Shortly following the 1946 verdicts against two dozen senior Nazi officials, Stuart Schulberg was commissioned by the U.S. Department of War to create a film, but his process was hampered by political squabbling, which contributed to the film’s suppression in the United States. The briskly-paced, 78-minute doc follows the trial structure, layering courtroom material, narration and excerpts from the films showing the Nazi’s rise to power and their concentration camps.
Although the German and unfinished English versions are in the public domain, original negatives and sound elements had either been lost or destroyed. “It took a long time to get the right advice from the right people,” said Ms. Schulberg, who worked with several collaborators to locate image, sound, music and text sources.
But Ms. Schulberg’s biggest discoveries were 300 pages of letters her father (a TV documentary pioneer who died in 1979) wrote during the OSS hunt in 1945. “Budd [who died last year] had a great memory to the end, but when he saw these letters he was overwhelmed,” laughs Ms. Schulberg, currently completing a book about the Schulberg brothers’ exploits. “My father was a lowly sergeant, continually frustrated because they sent him on ahead without enough support. So he wrote long complaining letters to my mother, which are incredibly detailed.”
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, which includes the sidebar event People of the Comic Book, runs April 17-25. TJFF box office: 416-967-1528.
Seminal doc about famous Nuremberg trials finally gets North American release
When American filmmaker Stuart Schulberg shot his documentary about the first of the famous Nuremberg trials in 1945, he made two versions — one for the Germans and another for the American public.
For the Germans, the film was meant to show how their leaders had failed them and why top Nazis were being tried as war criminals. For the Americans, it was a chance to see one of the greatest courtroom dramas in history.
Yet when Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today is shown at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival this weekend, it will be the first time people are seeing it in North America.
Schulberg's documentary broke new ground — both for filming inside a courtroom and for exposing the public to a war crimes trial. Made at the behest of the U.S. War Department (later the Defence Department), it was never released to American cinemas. The original footage disappeared. Schulberg went on to make films about the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe and then had a career at NBC. It was his daughter, film producer and financier Sandra Schulberg, who rediscovered Nuremberg.
"I wouldn't have started on this if we hadn't found all these fascinating documents about the making of Nuremberg after my mother's death when we were clearing out her apartment," says Schulberg, who has spent the last five years trying to restore the film.
The 78-minute print to be shown in Toronto is almost unchanged from the original created by Stuart Schulberg and editor Joseph Zigman. The doc follows a tight structure, laying out in painstaking detail the four main indictments against the 21 Nazi officials on trial, including Hermann Goering, Rudolf Hess, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and Albert Speer. The four counts were conspiracy to wage aggressive war, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The documentary presents filmed evidence taken by the Nazis themselves in support of the indictment and it outlines the joint prosecution by the four allies — Britain, Russia, the U.S. and France. It also captures some of the trial's magnificent legal oratory, including U.S. Justice Robert Jackson's famous opening and closing statements.
Sandra Schulberg says she regrets not having had a chance to speak to her father about Nuremberg before he died in 1979 (at age 56).
"Although I was very engaged with my father's work as a teenager and young woman, it was work that he was doing then, which was fascinating. I never thought to ask him about his earlier work — for one, I'd never seen it," she says. Fortunately, her Uncle Budd, the author and filmmaker who accompanied her father to Germany, was able to tell her part of the story. (Budd Schulberg died last August.)
During the war, Stuart Schulberg had been part of OSS Field Photographic Branch, the film unit headed by Hollywood director John Ford. He was sent to Germany in June 1945 — initially to hunt down film footage of war atrocities. Later that year, he began his Nuremberg documentary. It was made under the aegis of Pare Lorentz, the producer known as Franklin Roosevelt's filmmaker. It was finished in 1948, and although it had a good run in German theatres, the U.S. Defence Department never released the English version.
"We have enough information to say this film was suppressed, and then the question is why — and I think there are many interesting reasons," Sandra Schulberg says. "They range from concern about the atrocity footage to concern on the part of some U.S. military officers who were not comfortable with the fact that German military officers had been put on trial."
The same unit put together a one-hour documentary of Allied film, taken during the liberation of the concentration camps. Films the Nazis themselves had shot helped secure their convictions. It was one of the earliest uses of film in a long, complex trial.
Both the Washington Post and New York Daily Mirror columnist Walter Winchell wrote articles in 1949 speculating why the film was never released. "A hall of shame," Winchell said. The reasons may have had to do with keeping the new threat in Europe — the Soviets — at the top of the public mind, or with convincing Americans that they should continue to support the Marshall Plan.
Nuremberg was shown widely throughout Germany in 1949 as part of the "reorientation" process the Allies were carrying out in a shattered Europe.
"Unlike the film they forced people to see in 1945, called Death Mills, this was a film that was shown in regular movie theatres and people paid to see it," Schulberg says. There was a screening of the German version of Nuremberg at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004, and that inspired Schulberg to restore all of her father's films from the late 1940s. The 35 mm print that she eventually found came from German archives.
Schulberg, who has spent her career raising financing for films like I Shot Andy Warhol, Quills and Waiting for the Moon, worked with Josh Waletzky to create a print that could be seen by a modern audience. Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today looks vintage, with the trademark imperfections of old film, but with crisp images of the inside of the courtroom.
The German print had no original sound — instead there was a translation over the parts of the film in which lawyers spoke in English, French and Russian. But the entire Nuremberg trial had been recorded and the tape still existed in both Washington and The Hague, Netherlands. Painstakingly, Schulberg was able to combine the original oration with the footage — not always completely synchronized, but that was a problem her father also faced.
"I thought it was important to preserve the tone, the original wording of the narration as much as possible. I made very few changes — just explanatory phrases for modern audiences to know who the characters were. Then we rerecorded it using this marvelous actor Liev Schreiber, so we created a new narration track in English, and then we had to reconstruct the music," she said. The original score was by German composer Hans-Otto Borgmann, and could not be separated from the German narration. Instead, New York composer John Califra was able to recreate it on a synthesizer.
Schulberg finished the restoration process in November 2009, with a screening in The Hague, home of the international criminal court. That event was held in conjunction with the awarding of the Erasmus Prize to BenjaminFerencz, a prosecutor at some of the later Nuremberg trials.
There would be 12 more Nuremberg trials over the next four years, but this one was the groundbreaker — with the four bickering Allies agreeing to a single trial structure. The principles laid out in that courtroom in 1945 and 1946 underlie international justice as practised today in The Hague.
Schulberg knows that her father was permitted just 25 hours in the courtroom over the course of the trial; those restrictions make his accomplishment even more astonishing. For new generations who have never seen footage of the Holocaust, the film is a powerful educational tool. Witnessing the German leaders' pleas that they did not know or were not responsible in the face of such powerful evidence is a sobering lesson in human frailty. The Holocaust Museum and the Steven Spielberg Foundation have been supporters, as have the Dutch National Archives. Still, Schulberg had to scramble to raise the $200,000 it cost to restore Nuremberg.
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival had been following her progress closely.
"I think it was three years ago when they first contacted me when they heard I was doing this, and every year they would say, 'Is it ready, is it ready?' I was very encouraged by their eagerness for the film."
Nuremberg will be screened at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival on April 18. The film will open in New York in September.
Susan Noakes writes about the arts for CBC News.
Even though World War II was officially brought to an end over 50 years ago, the physical and mental scars of the German occupation remain as a painful reminder. The collective psyche of the world still recoils in horror whenever the topic arises. Enter Sandra Schulberg, a movie producer, and Josh Waletzky, a documentary director/writer, who decided together to reconstruct 'Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today,' a film originally made by Schulberg's father during the Nuremberg trials and released in 1949.
The first Nuremberg trial was convened November 20, 1945, in Nuremberg, Germany, to try the top Nazi leaders for their atrocious crimes. The verdict was rendered October 1, 1946. The lead U.S. prosecutor and the driving force behind the organization of the trial was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. During preparation for the trial, Jackson made the bold and historic decision to use film and photo evidence to convict the Nazis.
Writer/director Stuart Schulberg and editor Joseph Zigman were commissioned to create a documentary about the trial. Schulberg and Zigman found themselves terribly constrained. Crucial coverage simply did not exist. On the other hand, a complete sound recording of the trial had been made, but it was not synchronized to the motion picture record. Obviously, Mr. Schulberg faced immense challenges, but still managed to assemble a poignant representation of the trials and their outcome.
Now his daughter and her partner have taken the original recording and remastered it, and are screening their work for the first time in North America — ever — at theToronto Jewish Film Festival.
The original film was slated to be released in North America, but for various speculative reasons was never distributed. Some blame the post-WWII Soviet expansion, others blame an uptight American point-of-view, and still others claim the world at large was not ready for it. Regardless of why, Schulberg felt it was her personal responsibility to re-jig the film and allow North American audiences to see it.
"When I found out that the English language version was not released in the United States or North America, I thought that it had to be done," says Schulberg. "The challenge was the picture size... find a good enough print from which to make a good negative. There were no American prints that were suitable for this, but it turned out the German archives had a very high-quality print, so we used that."
She and Waletzky faced many challenges as they began the process.
"The original had printed-in dirt, it had splice marks, it had scratches, all sorts of things, which you see in the restored film," she says. "From a picture point-of-view it was relatively simple from there. The sound was a whole other challenge, since the original soundtrack for the movie had disappeared, along with the negative and the original music tracks. This was the toughest part."
All the effort put in by Schulberg and Waletzky is well worth it. The restored film is jarring, and at times I had to look away. Having not been exposed to the footage on any grand scale, it is disconcerting (to say the least) to witness Nazi soldiers throwing bodies in pits without any concern whatsoever. They may as well have been carrying sandbags. With such footage juxtaposed with the trial testimonies, even a layperson can grasp the level of monstrosity that occurred in Nazi Europe — and this is precisely the reaction the pair wanted to achieve.
"I have to say I've been surprised at reactions," says Schulberg. I've been having some private screenings, and it's amazing. People just want to stay and talk. We've had to kick people out after an hour-and-a-half, two hours. In Berlin, it got an incredible response. We had two packed screenings, the second one for 450 German high school students. They were really blown away by the film. I said to them, 'This film is not about you. You mustn't think for one minute that you are guilty in any way for what happened here in Germany 70 years ago. You are the hope of Germany and of the world, as are your young counterparts, whether they're in Iraq, Afghanistan, the U.S., or Canada. We're looking to you young people to lead us out of this. We want people to settle their disagreements in peaceful ways instead of killing each other.'"
Ironically, while showing some of the most vile human behaviour in history, we're taught a lesson in civility and peace. Schulberg agrees that one of the reasons this film is so unsettling is because these war crimes are still occurring the world over, almost as if we've learned nothing.
"The film is meant to inspire us all, teach us all. We have to do everything we can to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again," she says. "I want people to see this as an anti-war film. My father chose to end the film with Justice Jackson's own words. The last line of the film is: 'Let Nuremberg stand as a lesson to all who plan and wage aggressive war.' It's really an anti-war statement."
'Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today' has its North American premiere in Toronto at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. It screens one night only, at 7 pm at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto on Sunday, April 18.
For more information on this movie and issues surrounding Nuremberg, visit the movie's website.
The Toronto Jewish Film Festival runs from April 17-25 in Toronto.