Nuremberg trial movie to be shown at Seton Hill University
A newly restored film documenting the first Nuremberg trial, which until recently had never been theatrically released in the United States, will make its local debut this week.
The Westmoreland Bar Association, in partnership with Seton Hill University's National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education, will present “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration)” on Wednesday.
The event will feature commentary by New York-based filmmaker Sandra Schulberg, who restored the work made by her father, Stuart Schulberg, in 1948 for the then- War Department.
The film documented the first Nuremberg trial from inside the courtroom where 21 Nazi leaders were being tried on four counts, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The film was widely shown in Germany but was never theatrically released in America.
The decision “was a conscious one, and not simply an accident of history,” and the film was a “victim of the Cold War,” according to Schulberg.
“It's a very complex, many-layered film because part of it is set in the courtroom, and part of it is using the film evidence shown in the courtroom,” Schulberg said.
Restoring the documentary was a five-year effort, said Schulberg, noting that she was vaguely aware during her childhood that her father had made the film, but she did not see it until 2004 at a Berlin film festival.
“Little by little, I began to realize that quite apart from the fact that this was a film my father had made with his colleagues, that it was an absolute historic film, a historic document that needed to be properly restored for posterity,” she said.
Schulberg said she was not sure how the work would be received, and the intense interest of media and historians has been a shock.
“Here it is 60 years later. One of the interesting things about my father's film is it carries the title ‘Nuremberg: Its Lessons for Today,' ” she said. “Sixty-five years later, we have to ask ourselves the same question: ‘What is its lesson for today?'
“That's part of the fun for me — traveling with the film and talking to audiences. We get to explore this question after the film.”
The restoration did not change a single frame of the picture, she said. Instead, the picture and audio were reconstructed. The restored film premiered in November 2009 in The Hague in the Netherlands.
Stuart Schulberg, a Marine Corps officer who served in the wartime spy agency, was commissioned for the film by the Civil Affairs Division of the War Department. He remained a filmmaker for life and died in 1979.
“Our mission being to educate people about the Holocaust, I think it's a natural fit with Seton Hill and the Center,” said Wilda Kaylor, associate director of the 25-year-old National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill.
Westmoreland Bar Association President David DeRose said in a statement that the “film forever authenticates and preserves the unspeakable horror of the time.”
“We should use this as an opportunity to recommit ourselves to ensure that such events shall never take place in our world again,” he said.
The film “has so much contemporary relevance and resonance,” Schulberg said.
“It is just as compelling as it might have been 65 years ago,” she added. “In less than 80 minutes, it sort of tells you the whole story of the rise of the Nazi Party, the horrible — unthinkable, really — atrocities that were committed during the course of the war, and then finally it tells you the whole story of the trial.”
Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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