‘Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today‘ was completed by the U.S. Department of War in 1948, but was never released in any of the former Allied countries because of the Cold War. Authorities believed that the film would stir up a dislike for Germany at a time when West Germany was an important partner in the fight against communism.
There were also some in the U.S. military who were concerned the trial would be construed abroad as biased ‘victor’s justice’. So the erstwhile U.S. Army Secretary, Kenneth Royall, vetoed its domestic release. The film was eventually shown only in Germany as part of the postwar de-Nazification.
The 78-minute film records the courtroom scenes from the trials of 22 of the most senior surviving Nazi officials, who were accused of the destruction of peace in Europe. The documentary also includes vignettes from captured Nazi newsreels — which recorded the working of the gas chambers in concentration camps, and the ill-treatment and massacre of prisoners — that were shown as prosecution evidence at the trials.
The documentary was restored by Sandra Schulberg, whose father, a former U.S. marine sergeant, filmed the scenes and wrote the script. “I made very few changes to the narration,” she said at the premiere.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who introduced the first British showing, said the trial had been “a defining moment in international justice, establishing principles still in use today,” The Jewish Chronicle reports.
Eleven Nazis, including the notorious Hermann Goering, were convicted and condemned to hang. However, Goering managed to commit suicide a few hours before his execution. Three Nazi officials were acquitted through the trial, which lasted all of 10-and-a-half months.
Watch a preview of the film here:
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