By Abby Mann
As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of World War II, and as politics continues to infiltrate human rights and social justice issues worldwide, L.A. Theatre Works tours one of the great courtroom dramas of the last century: Judgment at Nuremberg. Originally a riveting teleplay, Judgment at Nuremberg became an Academy Award winning film and a stage play that is both surprising and unsettling.
Ostensibly, the American-led tribunals were formed to prosecute those accused of war crimes committed during WWII against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, people who were mentally and physically handicapped, and those considered inferior to the Aryan Race. But the themes explored in the play cover much broader and deeper ground: how compassion can become secondary to the rule of law; how human rights are compromised during times of conflict; and how politics plays a role in dealing with genocide – issues which remain relevant today.
Judgment at Nuremberg poses a number of difficult questions: How can indefensible crimes be defended? How does a judge, committed to the law, enforce immoral and vicious crimes against humanity? Why, in the aftermath of WWII, did America pressure the courts to be lenient on the defendants? And, critically, what does America do when our foreign policy interests clash with our stated beliefs in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
In this absorbing and complex drama, a cast of unforgettable characters play out their high-stakes game against the backdrop of a looming Cold War, shifting political alliances, and the shocking and vivid memories of the Holocaust and World War II.