Judgement at Nuremberg: 14 Moral Conundrums that you can’t judge
Judgement at Nuremberg is one of the gems, not just as the World War II movie or a classic movie. It’s more than a definite Nazi movie. It asks questions of morality. Questions that can shake your being. There are quite a few instances in the Judgement at Nuremberg that left me shaken.
A History Lesson
First, a short history lesson.
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of trials by the Allies powers upon the people of Germany. For what? For the inhumane experiences meted out to the minorities in Europe and for the Holocaust. Military leaders, members of the government and even low-level civilians were put on trial. Judgement was passed upon them for the wrong Germany had done. Of course, from an outside perspective, the judgement is easy.
- Holocaust = Bad.
- Germany conducted the Holocaust.
- Thus German people are barbarians.
But, is it that simple?
So, here are 14 Moral Conundrums you’ll face if you watch this movie.
- Who judges the Judges?
Court Judges are supposed to uphold the law, so who has the legal and moral authority to judge them?
- Is a Judge’s role to uphold the law or to make a decision based on morality decided by society?
Should a Judge uphold the law when he knows it’s wrong?
- Can we twist the facts to suit the need of argument? Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it just an argument?
- Should degenerate and people with mental disorders be stopped from having children?
How could we live in a world that thought it was fine to castrate degenerates and people with mental disorders.
- Did “they” know?
Who’s “they”? The German people of course.
What should “they” know? The Holocaust that was happening in their backyard.
This is the single biggest question that everyone was asking after WWII. A question we still ask to date.
- How could they not know?
It was their government, it was their people who were conducting the Holocaust.
- Who is truly responsible for the atrocities? The people of Germany that stood by their country while they occurred or the government that it carried out? Or both?
- Is Hyper-nationalism wrong?
Nationalism is necessary for a country to exist, but can it be a bad thing? What happens to those people who don’t fit into the country’s current nationalist narrative?
- What must a country do when they are enemies all around threatening to destroy it?
When you’re surrounded by enemies, everyone must join together to risk being destroyed.
- Must the government lie to create the illusion of a single enemy?
By creating a single enemy, the people unite and become one.
- Is the justice system a farce of twisted truths and wrong perception which are believed to be truth?
- How can real truth, 101% truth, truth of facts and not of subjective perception survive the realities of life?
In life, you are faced with your own perception. Can, those of us, who never experienced the Nazi-fication of society truly understand the truth of the Germans?
- What is more important? Truth? Political realities? Survival of your society?
Truth, real truth, has consequences when untempered because we often can’t deal with the truth.
- Did they ever know it would come to that? That it would lead to the Holocaust.
Believe it or not, the Nazi’s didn’t just wake up one day and began murdering innocent people.
Tomorrow, you might decide to condemn an innocent soul for the greater good of society, perhaps that would eventually lead to a massacre.
Ernst Janning: 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.
- Who judges the Judges?
The Past Applies to the Present
70 years have passed since humanity revealed one of it’s darkest sides. Many of the moral questions asked in Judgement of Nuremberg still apply today. The stamp of society to do wrong, for the “greater good” is always hanging upon us. We live in a world with hyper-nationalism. Be forever vigilant.
I leave you with another quote from the movie:
“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 sixteen 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.”