Judgment at Nuremberg
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Judge Haywood... the reason I asked you to come. 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.
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. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves. Only when you understand that can you understand what Hitler meant to us. Because he said to us: 'Lift up your heads! Be proud to be German! There are devils among us. Communists, Liberals, Jews, Gypsies! Once the devils will be destroyed, your miseries will be destroyed.' It was the old, old story of the sacrifical lamb. What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? 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. 'The country is in danger.' We will 'march out of the shadows.' 'We will go forward.' And history tells you how well we succeeded! 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 us as a democracy were open to us now. The world said go ahead, take it! Take Sudetenland, take the Rhineland - remilitarize it - take all of Austria, take it! We marched forward, the danger passed. And then one day, we looked around and found we were in even more terrible danger. The rites began in this courtroom, swept over our land like a raging, roaring disease! What was going to be a passing phase became a way of life.
Judge Dan Haywood:
Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and death of millions by the government of which he was a part. Janning's record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he and the other defendants were all depraved perverts - if the leaders of the Third Reich were sadistic monsters and maniacs - these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or other natural catastrophes. But this trial has shown that under the stress of a national crisis, men - even able and extraordinary men - can delude themselves into the commission of crimes and atrocities so vast and heinous as to stagger the imagination. No one who has sat through this trial can ever forget. The sterilization of men because of their political beliefs... The murder of children... How easily that can happen. There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the protection of the country. Of survival. The answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult. Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth... and the value of a single human being.
[the court has just been shown footage of the concentration camps]
You do not think it was like that, do you? [the other defendants are silent] There were executions, yes, but nothing like that. Nothing at all! [turns to another prisoner] Pöhl. Pöhl! You ran those concentration camps, you and Eichmann. They say we killed millions of people. [scoffs] Millions of people! How could it be possible? Tell them, how could it be possible?
[matter-of-fact] It's possible.
You mean, technically? It all depends on your facilities. Say you have two chambers to accommodate 2000 people apiece. Figure it out. It's possible to get rid of 10,000 in a half hour. You don't even need knives to do it. You can tell them they're going to take a shower, then instead of water, you turn on the gas. It's not the killing that's the problem, it's disposing of the bodies. That's the problem.
My counsel would have you believe that we were not aware of the extermination of millions. That we were only aware of the extermination of the hundreds. Does that make us any the less guilty? Maybe we didn't know the details. But if we didn't know, it was because we did not want to know.
Judge Dan Haywood:
Order, order! Put that man back in his seat and keep him there!
I am going to tell the truth if the whole world conspires against it. I am going to tell them the truth about their Ministry of Justice. Werner Lampe — an old man who cries into his Bible now. An old man who profited from the property expropriation of every man he sent to a concentration camp. Friedrich Hofstetter — the "good German" who knew how to take orders, who sent men before him to be sterilized like so many digits. Emil Hahn — the decayed, corrupt bigot, obsessed by the evil within himself. And Ernst Janning — worse than any of them, because he knew what they were, and he went along with them. Ernst Janning — who made his life...excrement... because he walked with them.
I'll make you a wager...
Judge Dan Haywood:
I don't make wagers.
A gentleman's wager... in five years, the men you sentenced to life imprisonment will be free.
Judge Dan Haywood:
Herr Rolfe, I have admired your work in the court for many months. You are particularly brilliant in your use of logic. So, what you suggest may very well happen. It is logical, in view of the times in which we live. But to be logical is not to be right, and nothing on God's earth could ever make it right!
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.
We have fallen on happy times, Herr Hahn. In old times it would have made your day if I'd deigned to say good morning to you. Now that we are here in this place together... you feel obliged to tell me what to do with my life... Listen to me, Herr Hahn, there have been terrible things that have happened to me in my life. But the worst thing that has ever happened... is to find myself in the company of men like you.
Your Honor. It is my duty to defend Ernst Janning. And yet, Ernst Janning has said he is guilty. There's no doubt, he feels his guilt. He made a great error in going along with the Nazi movement, hoping it would be good for his country. But, if he is to be found guilty, there are others who also went along, who also must be found guilty. Ernst Janning said, "We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams." Why did we succeed, Your Honor? What about the rest of the world? Did it not know the intentions of the Third Reich? Did it not hear the words of Hitler's broadcast all over the world? Did it not read his intentions in Mein Kampf, published in every corner of the world?
Listen to me... there are things that happened on both sides. My husband was a military man, had been all his life. He was entitled to a soldier's death; he asked for that. I tried to get that for him, just that and he would die with some honor. I went from official to official. I begged for that, I begged for that, that he should be permitted the dignity of a firing squad. You know what happened. He was hanged with the others, and after that, I knew what it was to hate. I never left the house. I never left the room. I drank. I hated with every fiber of my being, I hated every American I'd ever known. But one can't live with hate. I know that. We have to forget. We have to go on living.
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