Judgment of Nuremberg

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German title Judgment of Nuremberg
Original title Judgment at Nuremberg
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1961
length 188 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Stanley Kramer
script Abby man
production Stanley Kramer
music Ernest Gold
camera Ernest Laszlo
cut Frederic Knudtson

Judgment of Nuremberg (often reproduced as The Judgment of Nuremberg , English original title Judgment at Nuremberg ) is an American feature film from 1961 , which is based on a true story. Stanley Kramer produced this classic court movie for United Artists . The artistic advice for the German dialogue version was with Erich Maria Remarque . The world premiere of the German version took place on December 14, 1961 in the Berlin Congress Hall.


The US judge Dan Haywood arrived in 1948 in Nuremberg, which had been badly damaged by the war . He is supposed to lead the trial against four leading German lawyers from the Nazi state . He is billeted in the villa of a former general who has been sentenced to death as a war criminal .

Prosecutor Colonel Tad Lawson shows at the beginning of the trial that he wants to enforce harsh punishment for the accused. His fiercest opponent is the German defense attorney Hans Rolfe, who defends the main defendant Dr. jur. Ernst Janning represents. On behalf of his client, he cites the emergency of orders and the legal situation in the German Reich at the time, which the defendants should have adhered to.

During the weeks during the trial, Judge Haywood tried to get in touch with the local population in Nuremberg in order to understand how the crimes of National Socialism came about . Among other things, he gets to know the widow of the former owner of the villa in which he lives. She tries to influence the judge in the sense that even high-ranking Germans would not have known about the crimes in the concentration camps . In a conversation with the house servants, he tries to find out how the common people thought. However, he encounters a wall of silence.

In the process, Dr. Karl Wieck out. He resigned from the office of Justice Minister in 1935 because he no longer wanted to serve the Nazis. However, defense attorney Hans Rolfe succeeds in shaking his credibility in cross-examination .

The unskilled worker Rudolf Petersen reports that, due to an order from Dr. Janning was forcibly sterilized because he came from a communist family. Rolfe tries to prove that Petersen is mentally poor and that people from this group of people were forcibly sterilized in other countries, including the USA.

Finally, the witness Irene Hoffman-Wallner testifies that the Jewish businessman Feldenstein falsely believed that Dr. Ernst Janning was sentenced to death and executed for an alleged intimate relationship with her for " racial disgrace " . (This case is based on the historical case of Leo Katzenberger .)

The defense attorney Rolfe tries to shake her testimony by trying to prove in cross-examination that the executed Feldenstein actually had an intimate relationship with her, thus fulfilling the criminal offense of " racial disgrace ". When the witness bursts into tears because Rolfe attacks her sharply, Dr. Ernst Janning spoke up for the first time and silenced Rolfe.

He then took the stand and pleaded guilty to the indictment of both deliberately ignoring and justifying the Nazi crimes, believing that they served the good of the country. He approved of his own crimes as a means of achieving patriotic goals. He also confesses to having determined the death sentence in the trial against Irene Hoffman's friend before the trial began.

Shortly before the verdict that blocks the Soviet Union , the access to Berlin . US military are putting prosecutor Lawson under pressure to demand a mild verdict, as the goodwill of the German population will be needed in the future. Judge Haywood pronounces harsh verdict for involvement in crimes against humanity. Together with the assessor Norris, he sentenced the accused to life imprisonment . Assessor Ives stated in a minority vote that he would have acquitted the accused on formal legal grounds.

The defense attorney Rolfe, who visits Haywood again after the trial, offers him a bet that the convicts would be free in five years anyway. Judge Haywood replied that Rolfe's point of view was logical but not fair.

The film ends with a visit by Haywood to Janning's cell. Janning assures the judge that he delivered a fair verdict. But let him believe that he - Janning - did not want the mass murders of Jews. Haywood replies that Janning was involved in the first knowledgeable conviction of an innocent man.

Historical background

The plot is based on the legal trial of 1947 against a number of Nazi judges. In terms of content, it is about the injustice death sentence, which was imposed by the Special Court in Nuremberg, chaired by Oswald Rothaug , at the request of the public prosecutor Hermann Markl for " racial disgrace " against Leo Katzenberger .

The film uses authentic footage about the crimes in the concentration camps .

Intention of the film

“[...] Remaining true to the line that he had already followed as a director and producer in many other films ..., Kramer illustrates a particularly difficult and controversial topic: the problem of the responsibility of the individual for his decisions when he moves within a system which formally legitimizes actions that must appear as real crimes against humanity. The brutal persecution of political and ideological opponents; the disenfranchisement, robbery, displacement and mass extermination of Jews, Sinti and Roma; the 'racial' measures of sterilization and 'destruction of unworthy life'; the abduction of millions of slave laborers; and finally the war of predation and annihilation in the east; All these crimes were spread, accompanied and legitimized by lawyers, some of whom were ideologically fanatical, some opportunistic and cowardly [...] "

- Francisco Munoz Conde and Marta Munoz Aunión : The judgment of Nuremberg, legal and film-scientific commentary on the film by Stanley Kramer


“Arguing differently, the film confronts different viewpoints without making a clear assessment. A classic of the court film with excellent actors and perfect dramaturgy. However, the balance of the script and the melodramatic ingredients of the direction defuse the explosive material and connect it with the conventions of entertainment cinema. "

“Strives fairly to answer the questions of indispensable law and human guilt. Despite some overload and some ambiguity, a courageous and honest film and a commendable contribution to the discussion of hitherto unresolved questions. Highly recommended from 16 onwards. "

- Protestant film observer, review No. 754/1961

"In the great tradition of court dramas, 'The Judgment of Nuremberg' has the honor of being the most important of all - even if it is obviously not the most entertaining."

- Christopher Null : filmcritic.com

“[...] The hype and star cast couldn't hide the fact that it failed. [...] Three quarters of the film ripple along uselessly, the front position only becomes clear in the last quarter. If you want to make a theses film, you have to be more determined - unless you don't want to hurt anyone. [...] Tracy and Lancaster are admirable. "

- til : Die Zeit , No. 52/1961

German version

The German dubbing was created in 1961 in the studio of Ultra Film Synchron GmbH in Berlin under the direction of Josef Wolf , who also wrote the dialogue book. Erich Maria Remarque contributed to the artistic processing of the dialogues .

role actor Voice actor
Judge Dan Haywood Spencer Tracy Walter Suessenguth
Ernst Janning Burt Lancaster Ernst Wilhelm Borchert
Colonel Tad Lawson Richard Widmark Arnold Marquis
Mrs. Berthold Marlene Dietrich Eleanor Noelle
Hans Rolfe Maximilian Schell Maximilian Schell
Rudolph Petersen Montgomery Clift Wolfgang Kieling
Captain Harrison Byers William Shatner Klaus Schwarzkopf
General Merrin Alan Baxter Thomas Reiner
Curtiss Ives Ray Teal Erik Jelde

The film was first shown on German television on March 16, 1970 at 9 p.m. on ZDF .


Academy Awards 1962

Maximilian Schell was honored as the best leading actor in the role of "Hans Rolfe". Abby Mann also received the 1962 award for best screenplay based on a literary source.

The film also received nine other nominations:

Golden Globe award 1962

  • Best Actor (Drama): Maximilian Schell
  • Best director: Stanley Kramer

Judy Garland and Montgomery Clift also received a Best Supporting Actor nomination. In addition, the film was nominated for Best Drama and Best Film for International Understanding .

Further awards

  • As at the Academy Awards, Maximilian Schell won the NYFCC Awards for Best Actor and Abby Mann for Best Screenplay
  • The film received 3 nominations for the BAFTA Award: Maximilian Schell and Montgomery Clift for Best Foreign Actors, as well as the film as a whole.
  • Spencer Tracy received the Fotogramas de Plata for Best Foreign Actor
  • The film also won the Bodil , the Cinema Writers Circle Award , and the David di Donatello Award
  • In 2008 the renowned American Film Institute selected the 10 greatest court dramas of all time. The verdict from Nuremberg reached 10th place.
  • Inclusion in the National Film Registry 2013

DVD release

  • The judgment of Nuremberg . "Award-winning films" series. MGM Home Entertainment 2001


  • Ernest Gold : Judgment at Nuremberg. Original motion picture soundtrack . (DeLuxe Edition: Enhanced CD with the original cinema trailer and detailed booklet.) Rykodisc / MGM, Salem 1998, sound carrier no. RCD 10723 - Original recording of the film music under the direction of the composer

As a theater production

The theatrical version, also by Abby Mann, premiered on March 26, 2001 at the Longacre Theater on Broadway, with Maximilian Schell as Ernst Janning. The German-language (and European) premiere took place on October 11, 2002 in the Schauspielhaus Nürnberg, director: Klaus Kusenberg, set: Günter Hellweg. There were further productions in 2003 at the Hamburg Ernst-Deutsch-Theater and in 2019 at the Württembergische Landesbühne Esslingen.


  • Abby Mann : Judgment at Nuremberg . New Directions, New York 2002, 110 (XXV) S., ISBN 0-8112-1526-1 (no German translation yet)
  • Francisco Muñoz Conde, Marta Muñoz Aunión: “The Judgment of Nuremberg”. Legal and cinematic commentary on the film by Stanley Kramer (1961) . Contemporary legal history; Department 6, Law in Art - Art in Law, Volume 21. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag (BWV), Berlin 2006, 89 (XIV) S., ISBN 3-8305-1007-1
  • Axel Bernburg: The judgment of Nuremberg , Burgschmiet-Verlag Nuremberg, 1998, ISBN 3-932234-19-7
  • Ulrike Weckel : American dream of a German confession of guilt: The feature film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and its reception in the German press . In: Georg Wamhof (ed.): The court as a tribunal, or: How the Nazi past was tried (= publications by the Lower Saxony contemporary history working group , Volume 25). Göttingen 2009, pp. 163-185.
  • Judgment of Nuremberg (USA) . In: Der Spiegel . No. 53 , 1961 ( online review).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for the judgment of Nuremberg . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , March 2004 (PDF; re-examination with modified youth approval).
  2. a b til: Critique. In: Die Zeit , No. 52/1961, p. 16
  3. Start dates on imdb.de accessed on February 4, 2011
  4. Christiane Kohl: The Jew and the Girl. A forbidden friendship in Nazi Germany. Spiegel-Buchverlag, Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-455-15018-7 .
  5. ^ Francisco Muñoz Conde, Marta Muñoz Aunión: "The Judgment of Nuremberg". Legal and cinematic commentary on the film by Stanley Kramer (1961) . Contemporary legal history; Department 6, Law in Art - Art in Law, Volume 21. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag (BWV), Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-8305-1007-1 , 89 (XIV) pp.
  6. ↑ Brief review in the Lexikon des Internationale Films on zweiausendeins.de, accessed on February 7, 2011
  7. Judgment at Nuremberg ( Memento from September 25, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Review in filmcritic.com accessed on February 7, 2011 (English)
  8. ^ The dubbed version : Ultra-Film moved to Berlin in the late 1940s. deutsche-kinemathek.de
  9. Thomas Bräutigam: Lexicon of film and television synchronization. More than 2000 films and series with their German voice actors etc. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-289-X , p. 376
  10. ^ Filmdienst.de and This Week on TV . In: Der Spiegel . No. 12 , 1970 ( online ).
  11. magazin.spiegel.de: Premieres
  12. The judgment of Nuremberg - Mann, Abby. Retrieved October 4, 2019 .