Pictures of Peace and Justice from Nuremberg to the Holocaust: Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, Memory of the Camps, and Majdanek: Cemetery of Europe – Missing Films, Memory Gaps and the Impact beyond the Courtroom of Visual Material in War Crimes Prosecutions

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Abstract

The present article examines three ‘missing’ films and their significance for memory and historiography of the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and the Holocaust: Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today, Memory of the Camps and Majdanek: Cemetery of Europe. Between them, the three ‘missing’ films contain material that is absent from collective memory and, in some regards, scholarship. The ‘missing’ films reflect the ‘missing’ message of the ‘real’ Holocaust in the 1940s and 1950s. They offer the material that, with wider circulation, might have adjusted the character and compound fallacies of collective memory, and filled a ‘gap’ in that memory. The article contributes to the historiographies of film, Nuremberg and the Holocaust in three ways. First, we offer the first scholarly treatment of the document and film Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today. Secondly, we offer the first examination of film and the IMT beyond the courtroom. Finally, we bring together the little-known and little-registered Soviet-Polish material of Majdanek: Cemetery of Europe, which captures the apparatus of the Nazi extermination camps, in a unified analysis with the more familiar western Allies’ film and the Nuremberg narrative, which, uniquely for its time, clearly identified Jews as the primary victims of the Nazis. In doing so, we show that both film evidence of those camps and a focus on Jews as primary victims could have emerged far earlier had these film documents not been suppressed, unfinished or overlooked.

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