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Prism Spring 2014

Prism Spring 2014

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Published by Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University Prism Journal Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators is a publication of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish
Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. It is made possible by a generous grant from the Henry, Bertha,
and Edward Rothman Foundation.
Yeshiva University Prism Journal Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators is a publication of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish
Education and Administration at Yeshiva University. It is made possible by a generous grant from the Henry, Bertha,
and Edward Rothman Foundation.

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Published by: Yeshiva University on Mar 17, 2014
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06/03/2014

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Judgment at Nuremberg, filmed in black-and-white to enhance

its documentary character, was produced in a Hollywood

studio. Although artificial, the setting of the cinematic

courtroom scenes, which encompass most of the film,

resembles Courtroom 600 of the Palace of Justice on

Fürher Strasse, where the historical Nuremberg Trials took

place. In August 1945, having requisitioned and begun to

renovate the entire Palace of Justice, for the trials, the

Americans constructed an additional visitors’ gallery and

removed the back wall of Courtroom 600 to accommodate

the masses of reporters and camera crews they sought to

attract to cover the unprecedented event. In 1961, after

handing the room back to the Germans, all alterations

were reversed, and the famous venue regained its original

layout. It is still used for major trials today (Schmidt &

Christmeier, n.d.).

The unceasing public interest in Courtroom 600 en-

couraged the Museum of the City of Nuremberg to turn

the former Nazi tribunal into a permanent memorial. The

Documentation Centre at the Party Rally Grounds took

charge of the challenging project, and a new Memorium

opened its doors in 2010 in the attic of the Palace of

Justice, exhibiting the legal persecution of Nazi criminals

in Germany and abroad as well as the legacy of the Nurem-

berg Trials, including the International Criminal Court in

the Hague. Courtroom 600 has become the highlight of

the exhibition [Fig. 1].

Once the spectator enters this charged space, he is

carried away by the wings of history. As with the experi-

ence one undergoes while visiting the Zeppelin Grounds,

a journey into the past is unavoidable—a voyage leaving

impressions based simultaneously on the actual site and,

for those who have seen the film, on the acquired memory

derived from Judgment at Nuremberg, although, as men-

tioned, the filmic Courtroom 600 was nothing but a Hol-

lywood set. Political scientist Bernd Mayerhofer (2011)

summarizes his experience:

The visitor does not learn anything really new. Nor, of

course, was this to have been expected. Most of the

information is known and easy to obtain. Yet the Me-

morial is still needed, because it combines the auratic

“power of place” with the “power of words,” and this

then with the power of images, in a suggestive and

informative context, thus filling a gap in the existing

practices of remembrance and memorial. (n.p.)

The goal of the memorial is not only to create a somewhat

haunting yet memorable experience but also to be an edu-

cational institution at whose core is the Nuremberg Heri-

tage, i.e., “the development of modern international criminal

law and human rights education” (Memorium Nuremberg

Trials, n.d.)—an ambition that goes hand-in-hand with

Nuremberg’s gradual transformation from the City of Nazi

Party Rallies into the City of Peace and Human Rights.

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