Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Nuremberg Trial and Tehran: Truly a Lesson for Today

Sandra Schulberg's film Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today was shown in Tehran on Tuesday night at the conference on International Humanitarian Law co-sponsored by the NAM Centre for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Sandra was present for the showing, and when it was over she and I spoke to the audience about the film and more generally about justice and the Holocaust.
Readers of the blog will be aware that there is a certain constituency in Iran that denies the historic truth of the Holocaust, and this underscored the importance of showing the film in Tehran. People came up to us afterwards and asked if everything in the film was really true. The answer, of course, is that the film is a documentary based upon original footage shot during and after the war. Although the film has lengthy scenes from the trial itself, there is also a great deal of information about the Nazi atrocities including the extermination camps.
The original film was made by Sandra's father, Stuart Schulberg. We were told that following the showing some rumors were circulating that this was 'American propaganda', based on the undisputed fact that it was made for the United States Department of the Army in 1948. But as Sandra explained to the audience, the film was actually suppressed in the United States, which by 1948 had come to see the Soviet Union as the real villain and was anxious not to be too antagonistic to its new ally, post-war Germany. Sandra notes that Robert Jackson, who had led the American prosecution team at Nuremberg before returning to his position as justice of the Supreme Court, unsuccessfully tried to obtain the film for a showing to the New York bar.
After some retouching of the Persian subtitles, the film should be available widely in Iran. Many in the audience asked how they could get a copy. Wide dissemination of Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today will help clarify the historical truth of Nazi atrocity and, at the same time, challenge those who attempt to deny it.

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