Judgment at Nuremberg

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Once in a generation...a motion picture explodes into greatness!

Judgment at Nuremberg is a 1961 film, set in 1948, in which an American court in occupied Germany tries four Nazi judges for war crimes.

Directed by Stanley Kramer. Written by Abby Mann.
The event the world will never forget.taglines

Ernst Janning

  • There was a fever over the land. A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger. We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. Above all, there was fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, and fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that - can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once these devils will be destroyed, your misery will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrificial lamb.

What about those of us who knew better? We who knew the words were lies, and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded... sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go forward. Forward is the great password.

And history tells how well we succeeded, your honor. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. The very elements of hate and power about Hitler that mesmerized Germany, mesmerized the world! We found ourselves with sudden powerful allies. Things that had been denied to us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said 'go ahead, take it, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland — remilitarize it — take all of Austria, take it!

And then one day we looked around and found that we were in an even more terrible danger. The ritual began in this courtroom swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease. What was going to be a passing phase had become the way of life.

Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the specter again. You have seen him do it — he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the 16-year-old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it... whatever the pain and humiliation.

  • We have fallen on happy times, Herr Hahn. In old times it would have made your day if I'd deigned to say good morning to you. Now that we are here in this place together... you feel obliged to tell me what to do with my life... Listen to me, Herr Hahn, there have been terrible things that have happened to me in my life. But the worst thing that has ever happened... is to find myself in the company of men like you.

Judge Dan Haywood

  • Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and the death of millions by the government of which he was a part. Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and all of the other defendants had been degraded perverts, if all of the leaders of the Third Reich had been sadistic monsters and maniacs, then these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake, or any other natural catastrophe. But this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary, even able and extraordinary men, can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat through the trial can ever forget them. Men sterilized because of political belief. A mockery made of friendship and faith. The murder of children. How easily it can happen.

There are those in our own country too who today speak of the 'protection of country,' of 'survival'. A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! Before the people of the world, let it now be noted that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: Justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.

Hans Rolfe

  • Your Honor. It is my duty to defend Ernst Janning. And yet, Ernst Janning has said he is guilty. There's no doubt, he feels his guilt. He made a great error in going along with the Nazi movement, hoping it would be good for his country. But, if he is to be found guilty, there are others who also went along, who also must be found guilty. Ernst Janning said, "We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." Why did we succeed, Your Honor? What about the rest of the world? Did it not know the intentions of the Third Reich? Did it not hear the words of Hitler's broadcast all over the world? Did it not read his intentions in Mein Kampf, published in every corner of the world?

Where's the responsibility of the Soviet Union, who signed in 1939 the pact with Hitler, enabled him to make war? Are we now to find Russia guilty? Where's the responsibility of the Vatican, who signed in 1933 the Concordat with Hitler, giving him his first tremendous prestige? Are we now to find the Vatican guilty?

Where's the responsibility of the world leader, Winston Churchill, who said in an open letter to the London Times in 1938 - 1938, Your Honor! "Were England to suffer national disaster, I should pray to God to send a man of the strength of mind and will of an Adolf Hitler!" Are we now to find Winston Churchill guilty? Where is the responsibility of those American industrialists, who helped Hitler to rebuild his armaments and profited by that rebuilding?!! Are we now to find the American industrialists guilty? No, Your Honor! No! Germany alone is not guilty: The whole world is as responsible for Hitler's Germany!

It is an easy thing to condemn one man in the dock. It is easy to condemn the German people to speak of the 'basic flaw' in the German character that allowed Hitler to rise to power - and at the same time, positively, ignore the 'basic flaw' of character that made the Russians sign pacts with him, Winston Churchill praise him, American industrialists profit by him!

Ernst Janning said he is guilty. If he is, Ernst Janning's guilt is the world's guilt. No more, and no less.

Col. Tad Lawson

  • One thing about Americans: we're not cut out to be occupiers. We're new at it and not very good at it.

Mrs. Bertholt

  • Listen to me... there are things that happened on both sides. My husband was a military man, had been all his life. He was entitled to a soldier's death; he asked for that. I tried to get that for him, just that and he would die with some honor. I went from official to official. I begged for that, I begged for that, that he should be permitted the dignity of a firing squad. You know what happened. He was hanged with the others, and after that, I knew what it was to hate. I never left the house. I never left the room. I drank. I hated with every fiber of my being, I hated every American I'd ever known. But one can't live with hate. I know that. We have to forget. We have to go on living.


Capt. Harrison Byers: I trust you'll be comfortable in this room, sir.
Judge Dan Haywood: Captain, I have no doubt that the entire state of Maine would be comfortable in this room!

[the court has just been shown footage of the concentration camps]
Werner Lampe: You do not think it was like that, do you? [the other defendants are silent] There were executions, yes, but nothing like that. Nothing at all! [turns to another prisoner] Pöhl. Pöhl! You ran those concentration camps, you and Eichmann. They say we killed millions of people. [scoffs] Millions of people! How could it be possible? Tell them, how could it be possible?
Pöhl: [matter-of-fact] It's possible.
Werner Lampe: [aghast] How?
Pöhl: You mean, technically? It all depends on your facilities. Say you have two chambers to accommodate 2000 people apiece. Figure it out. It's possible to get rid of 10,000 in a half hour. You don't even need knives to do it. You can tell them they're going to take a shower, then instead of water, you turn on the gas. It's not the killing that's the problem, it's disposing of the bodies. That's the problem.

Ernst Janning: My counsel would have you believe that we were not aware of the extermination of millions. That we were only aware of the extermination of the hundreds. Does that make us any the less guilty? Maybe we didn't know the details. But if we didn't know, it was because we did not want to know.
Emil Hahn: Traitor! Traitor!
Judge Dan Haywood: Order, order! Put that man back in his seat and keep him there!
Ernst Janning: I am going to tell the truth if the whole world conspires against it. I am going to tell them the truth about their Ministry of Justice. Werner Lampe — an old man who cries into his Bible now. An old man who profited from the property expropriation of every man he sent to a concentration camp. Friedrich Hofstetter — the "good German" who knew how to take orders, who sent men before him to be sterilized like so many digits. Emil Hahn — the decayed, corrupt bigot, obsessed by the evil within himself. And Ernst Janning — worse than any of them, because he knew what they were, and he went along with them. Ernst Janning — who made his life...excrement... because he walked with them.

Hans Rolfe: I'll make you a wager...
Judge Dan Haywood: I don't make wagers.
Hans Rolfe: A gentleman's wager... in five years, the men you sentenced to life imprisonment will be free.
Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Rolfe, I have admired your work in the court for many months. You are particularly brilliant in your use of logic. So, what you suggest may very well happen. It is logical, in view of the times in which we live. But to be logical is not to be right, and nothing on God's earth could ever make it right!

Ernst Janning: Judge Haywood... the reason I asked you to come: Those people, those millions of people... I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it, you must believe it!
Judge Dan Haywood: Herr Janning, it "came to that" the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.


  • The event the world will never forget.
  • More than a motion picture...It is an overwhelming experience in human emotion you will never forget!
  • Once in a generation...a motion picture explodes into greatness!