Scen.: Stuart Schulberg. M.: Joseph Zigman. Mus.: Hans-Otto Borgmann. Prod.: Pare Lorentz per OMGUS. 35mm. D.: 76’. Bn.
Nürnberg und seine Lehre is not a German film but a film for Germany, proved at least in part by the fact that it never had a major (or even minor) release in the US, which had bankrolled its production through OMGUS (Office of Military Government of United States for Germany) and provided the creative talents (some of whom, like the blacklisted Michael Gordon, would soon find themselves persona non grata there). The film was made as part of the Allied re-education effort: to explain to the local public the purpose and meaning of the Nuremberg trials (still going on at the time of the film’s release), and show that they’re not an example of victor’s justice but a first step in making a new Germany. Schulberg focuses on the first, most famous and only trial examined by prosecutors and judges from all four Allied occupation forces: the one against leading figures of the Nazi administration, industries and armed forces. Nürnberg und seine Lehre comprises mostly excerpts from The Nazi Plan (1945) and Nazi Concentration Camps (1945): films that were presented during this trial as evidence. That was a smart idea. Firstly because this was how German public got to see some of these images, and through them a first-hand idea of the evidence amassed; secondly because it ever so tacitly established an authority for the Allied film production as a moral arbiter. The film was also probably deemed helpful for re-establishing some basic trust in the judicial profession – the excesses of Roland Freisler and certain of his colleagues had left Germans wary of courts. All that said, one wonders why Nürnberg und seine Lehre was only released in November 1948 if it had been ready since early autumn 1947 (on September 27th that year a preview-premiere had been held in Washington, DC). The delay also ensured that it appeared after the Soviet Union had presented its view of proceedings through Roman Karmen and Elizaveta Svilova’s Sud narodov (1947). A lot had changed in these 14 months: relations between the three Western Allies and the USSR had gone from bad to worse, escalating with the Berlin Blockade. Nürnberg und seine Lehre had become an argument in the Cold War battle of ideas.