Nuremberg (2000 film)

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Genre Docudrama
Written by David W. Rintels
Directed by Yves Simoneau
Starring Alec Baldwin
Brian Cox
Christopher Plummer
Jill Hennessy
Matt Craven
Colm Feore
Christopher Heyerdahl
Michael Ironside
Max von Sydow
Composer(s) Richard Grégoire
Country of origin Canada
United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Mychèle Boudrias
Ian McDougall
Cinematography Alain Dostie
Editor(s) Yves Langlois
Running time 180 minutes
Original release July 16, 2000

Nuremberg is a 2000 Canadian/United States television docudrama, based on the book Nuremberg: Infamy on Trial by Joseph E. Persico, that tells the story of the Nuremberg trials.

Plot summary

Part one

At the close of World War II, Hermann Göring (Brian Cox) surrenders to the Americans and enjoys the hospitality of a U.S. Air Force base. Samuel Rosenman (Max von Sydow), acting on the orders of U.S. President Harry S. Truman, recruits U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (Alec Baldwin) to prepare a war crimes tribunal against Göring and the surviving Nazi leadership. Göring, Albert Speer (Herbert Knaup) and others are arrested for war crimes and imprisoned in a U.S. Army stockade at Bad Mondorf in Luxembourg. Jackson, his assistant Elsie Douglas (Jill Hennessy), and his prosecution team fly to Germany. Psychologist Gustave Gilbert (Matt Craven) arrives at the stockade with prisoner Hans Frank (Frank Moore), who has attempted suicide.

Jackson negotiates with Allied representatives Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe (Christopher Plummer), General Iona Nikitchenko (Len Doncheff) and Henri Donnedieu de Vabres (Paul Hébert) to ensure a unified prosecution. Jackson selects the Nuremberg Palace of Justice for the site of the trials and reconstruction work commences. Göring and the others are stripped of their rank and transferred to the prison in Nuremberg, where they come into conflict with the guards under the command of the strict Colonel Burton C. Andrus (Michael Ironside). Major Airey Neave (Geoffrey Pounsett) serves Göring, Speer and the others with their indictments. U.S. judge Francis Biddle (Len Cariou) arrives to take control of the court but reluctantly passes the honour at Jackson’s insistence. Following the suicide of prisoner Robert Ley (Julien Poulin), round-the-clock watches are posted and Gilbert is appointed prisoner liaison.

Sir Geoffrey Lawrence (David Francis) opens the trial with all defendants pleading not guilty, and Jackson gives a stirring opening statement. At lunch a jovial Göring holds court over the other defendants while Speer begins to show signs of remorse. Maxwell-Fyfe puts forward an emotive eyewitness account of the Nazis' genocidal policies toward Jews and others, while Jackson reads out dry documentation. As the court begins to tire of Jackson’s meticulous approach, Maxwell-Fyfe urges pushing on to the witness interviews, which reveal the horrors of the concentration camps. The court is shaken by documentary footage of the camps; even Göring appears unsettled.

Part two

Speer explains Göring’s dominance to Gilbert and insists that his control over the others must be broken. Göring takes the stand and begins speaking to the German people. Jackson, at Gilbert’s suggestion, has Göring isolated. Under cross-examination, Göring outmanoeuvers and humiliates Jackson, who later accuses Biddle of giving Göring free rein in court. Douglas talks Jackson out of tendering his resignation, and the two share a kiss. Under advice from Maxwell-Fyfe, Jackson returns to confront Göring with evidence of his crimes against the Jews and successfully dismisses the defendant’s denials.

At a Christmas party, the German housekeeper refuses to serve the Soviets, but Douglas rescues the situation before slipping away with Jackson. Gilbert visits the defendants and, under Jackson’s advice, attempts to convince them to take responsibility for their crimes. Andrus relaxes the prison rules for Christmas, and Göring shares a friendly drink with his guard, Lt. Tex Wheelis (Scott Gibson). The cross-examination of the defendants intensifies and the defence calls Rudolf Höß (Colm Feore), who casually reveals the horrors of Auschwitz. Speer is implicated in the enslavement of foreign workers by fellow defendant Fritz Sauckel (Ken Kramer) and in response accepts collective responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi regime.

Gilbert interviews Göring’s wife Emmy (Susan Glover), who reveals that Hitler had ordered them all executed, which led to the family’s surrender. Jackson is moved by Gilbert’s summation of his examinations — that the source of the evil behind Nazi Germany was a complete lack of empathy — to give an impassioned closing statement. Göring uses his final statement to condemn the trial, and is sentenced along with several others to death by hanging. Speer uses his final statement to commend the tribunal and is sentenced to 20 years in prison. Göring commits suicide after his request to be executed by firing squad is denied. Andrus presides over the executions of the others while Jackson and Douglas head home.


Historical inaccuracies

Göring did not drive to an American base and surrender - he sent an aide to Brigadier General Robert I. Stack, offering to surrender to Eisenhower personally; subsequently, an American detachment was sent through the German lines to find him and bring him to a secure American position.[1] Also, Wilhelm Keitel was described in the film as an admiral during the defendants' sentencing. He was in fact a field marshal and would not have been identified with naval rank.

The verdicts and sentences were pronounced together with all defendants present. In reality, verdicts and sentences were pronounced separately and the defendants were called one at a time into the courtroom to learn their sentence. Andrus was not present at the executions.

When the defendants were indicted by Major Neave they all made verbal statements. In reality these statements were collected by Captain Gustave Gilbert. He asked the defendants to write their first reactions on a copy of the indictments.[2]

In the film Albert Speer was arrested when he was giving a lecture to American soldiers. In reality Speer was arrested together with Karl Dönitz and Alfred Jodl in Flensburg where they had set up a provisional government. [3]

In the film Captain Gilbert is graciously given the right to talk to the prisoners by Col. Andrus in exchange for a library and an exercise field. In reality Gilbert was appointed to talk to the prisoners by the US military. The idea was that Andrus was informed by Gilbert about the state of mind of the prisoners. [4]



Award Category Result
53rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Won (Brian Cox)
Outstanding Single Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie Won
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Nominated
58th Golden Globe Awards Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television Nominated
Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television Nominated (Alec Baldwin)
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television Nominated (Brian Cox)
7th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actor - Miniseries or TV Film Nominated Alec Baldwin
Best Actor - Miniseries or TV Film Nominated (Brian Cox)
16th Gemini Awards Best Dramatic Mini-Series Won
Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Nominated (Yves Simoneau)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Nominated (Alec Baldwin)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Won (Brian Cox)
Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series Nominated
Best Original Music Score for a Program or Mini-Series Nominated
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic Program or Series Won
Best Achievement in Make-Up Nominated
Best Costume Design Nominated
Best Overall Sound in a Dramatic Program or Series Nominated
Best Sound Editing in a Dramatic Program or Series Nominated
Best Visual Effects Won
2001 PGA Awards Television Producer of the Year Award in Longform Nominated
2001 Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Won (Jill Hennessy)

See also


  1. The 36th Infantry Division Association Library
  2. G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg diaries, (New York 1974).
  3. Richard Overy, Interrogations. The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands, 1945 (2001).
  4. G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg diaries, (New York 1974) page 3.

External links