is a 2000 miniseries based on the main Nuremberg Trials of the Nazi leaders on war crimes charges. It consisted of two episodes and starred Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Michael Ironside
, Jill Hennessey, Christopher Plummer and many, many others
Depending on your point of view, it might appear as the typical celebration of the heroic Allies
against Nazi Germany
or a good miniseries with well-developed characters.
The plot spaces from the capture of the main Nazi war criminals to the end of the trial, as the historical accuracy varies from one point to the next.
This miniseries provides examples of:
- Anti-Villain: Albert Speer. In Real Life, before the war he was a brilliant architect, and he entered Hitler's inner circle because of his grand designs for re-shaping Berlin and building a strong foundation for the German people. During the war he was charged with maintaining industrial production of armaments, and was shocked and horrified once he found out how the workers in these factories were treated. He did little about it back then, but after the war he spent literally the rest of his life atoning and accepting responsibility for Nazi atrocities. He demonstrated none of the sociopathic qualities that many of his compatriots showed.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Robert Jackson considers quitting, prompting his assistant to ask him "Does Herman Göring actually believe in his ideals more than you believe in yours?"
- The Atoner: Hans Frank and Albert Speer.
- Better to Die than Be Killed:
- Robert Ley hangs himself in his cell before the beginning of the trial.
- Hermann Göring swallows cyanide before the executions start.
- Blunt Yes:
- When discussing the trial.
Nikitchenko: You would allow a man such as Ernst Kaltenbrunner, responsible for the Gestapo, concentration camps, for killing millions of innocent people, to stand before a court of law and declare himself not guilty?
Jackson: That is precisely what we would allow.
Jackson: Witness, there is evidence before this court that nearly 10 million people have been exterminated-murdered in cold blood. ''You mean to say that you did not, and in your opinion Hitler did not, know what took place in the concentration camps?
- Break the Haughty: Happens to Ribbentrop and Funk.
- The Brute: Ernst Kaltenbrunner.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Rudolf Hess.
Wilhelm Keitel: "He's pretending. Hess is very smart."
Alfred Jodl: "If he was so smart, he wouldn't have spent the last four years in an English prison."
- Dirty Communists: Averted.
- Dissonant Serenity: Rudolf Höss doesn't see the murder of nearly three million people at Auschwitz as anything to get upset about. In fact, he is always polite and very well-mannered. And yes, he is quite the Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Goering is introduced arriving at an American military encampment to surrender with his family in tow. He later has several interactions with them indicating he genuinely cares about them and comforts his little daughter. Goering's wife indicates he surrendered quickly to prevent his family from being killed on Hitler's orders due to his perceived betrayal.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Subverted when Höss explains that in Auschwitz he did not tolerate gratuitous cruelty... because he was there to carry on an extermination. In Real Life he made this statement relating to his first test trial of the same formula of gas that would eventually execute millions of human beings:
"We knew when the people were dead because they stopped screaming."
- Some defendants show uneasiness as they see the clips about the concentration camps.
- Famous Last Words: Some of the defendants who are sentenced to death are shown while delivering their last speeches on the gallows. The writers goofed with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, whose last words weren't "Deutschland über alles!" but "Alles für Deutschland!".
- Foregone Conclusion
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: The "dueling scars" on Kaltenbrunner's face. They were actually caused by a driving accident.
- Greedy Jew: Julius Streicher openly and proudly admits considering this stereotype as a matter of fact.
- Hanging Judge: Soviet judge Iona Nikitchenko. Justified by what people like Keitel, Rosenberg and Frank did in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. If he'd had his way, there wouldn't have been any trials at all. Ironically this depiction is contrary to real life, where it was in fact Churchill who wanted to execute the Nazis without trial and it was Stalin who insisted on trying them in court. The trials had already been decided on by the time of that meeting and Nikitchenko advocating to the Western Allies the opposite from what Stalin ordered would have had serious consequences.
- Heel Realization: Years before the Nuremberg trials, Albert Speer finally realized that Hitler was insane and dragging the entirety of Germany down with him. He put together a plan to assassinate him but was foiled... by a wall. Which could also be due to Speer being an Unreliable Narrator.
- Hollywood History:
- Averted when Göring reminds Dr. Gilbert that Nazi anti-Semitic laws were inspired by English and American racist theories.
- Wilhelm Keitel is referred to as an admiral, when in reality he was a general.
- Hot-Blooded: Julius Streicher is a capricious, rude, loud anti-Semite.
- Implausible Deniability: Gestapo chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner's strategy of legal defense is to deny everything he's done and everyone who claims that he engaged in war crimes as a liar, even when the prosecution presents him with incontrovertible evidence and multiple witness testimonies to prove it.
- Just Following Orders: Wilhelm Keitel builds up his defense on this principle.
- Lack of Empathy: Dr. Gilbert pegs this as the reason the defendants were able to commit such terrible acts.
- Laughing Mad: Rudolf Hess, who has received a life sentence, bursts into a fit of manic laughter after the executions.
- Loads and Loads of Characters
- Not So Different: Göring points this out when talking about Hiroshima and segregation laws.
- Punch Clock Villain:
- After quietly telling the court how many people were killed in Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss explains to Dr. Gilbert that outside the concentration camp he lived a perfectly normal life. It's used to illustrate how sociopathic Höss is that he could detach himself so easily from his job.
- Albert Speer.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The actors chosen to portray Rudolf Hess (Roc LaFortune), Alfred Rosenberg (Alain Fournier) and Arthur Seyss-Inquart (René Gagnon) would have spoken with a strong French Canadian accent. Thus, they were given very few lines in the script, while in Real Life their characters played a very important role during the progress.
- Redemption Equals Death: Hans Frank shows remorse for the crimes he committed while he was Gauleiter of Poland, but this isn't enough to spare him the gallows.
- Smug Snake: Joachim von Ribbentrop.
- The Sociopath: Rudolf Höss killed over 2 million Jews when he was commandant of Auschwitz. He not only never gave it a second thought, he found a way to kill people faster!
- Those Wacky Nazis: Played straight by Julius Streicher, somehow subverted by the repentant ones.
- Too Dumb to Live: Jokingly, Göring states that Ribbentrop should be hanged for his foolishness.
- Villainous Breakdown:
- Hess has a big damn one in the end (including an Evil Laugh).
- Ribbentrop has a minor one when he starts weeping as the clip about the concentration camps is shown to the court.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Strangely, some sentences aren't read by the judges. However, we get to see the executions of all the defendants sentenced to death.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Göring to Jackson.
- Defied by the Judges when they decide that hanging is the only appropriate means of execution for the convicted defendants. The Soviet Judge states that the soldiers among the tried Nazis don't deserve execution by shooting due to their behavior during the war because that is reserved for honorable adversaries.
- Yes-Man: All of the defendants, according to Göring. In his words: "all the no-men are dead."