A trial will be held against four German judges for crimes against humanity this Saturday in the showing of “Judgment at Nuremburg.”
L.A. Theatre Works, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation classic and contemporary plays, will present the story based off the 1961 film. “Judgment at Nuremburg,” written by Abby Mann, depicts the events of the historic Nuremburg Trials and the efforts of an American-led court as it tried to reconcile the atrocities of World War II.
Although many of the most powerful Nazi leaders had died by the time the trials happened, the U.S. and its allies felt that some sort of justice needed to be served. “Judgment” sets the scene in 1948, when the prosecution argued that German judges, under Nazi influence, sentenced many innocent people to death during WWII.
Throughout the course of the play, the chief judge, Dan Haywood, hears stories from the well-educated judges on trial, the widow of a German general, average Germans with various views on the war and a U.S. Army captain. These characters and the nature of the trials fictionalize individual stories, revisiting the atrocities behind the front lines. Was everyone – from the general to the private and secretary – to blame? If a court is meant to attribute blame, then Mann’s story shows just how difficult it is to blame an entire population.
This play intends to evoke emotion in its audience by asking viewers to think about how we theorize what justice means and how we achieve justice, especially in the wake of such an unthinkable genocide. “Judgment” raises questions about human rights, foreign policy and the juridical system, as well as the role that average people played through ignorance and complicity.
The saying goes, “If you’re not a part of the solution, then you’re a part of the problem.” The responsibility of regular people to speak out against large-scale atrocities is still a topic of debate today, and perhaps this play will address those current conversations.
Producing Director of L.A. Theatre Works Susan Albert Loewenberg brought the play to the present day in an interview with the Williams Center for the Arts.
“[The play] presents a moral argument – what is ‘justice’ for something as horrific as the Holocaust? The play demonstrates what it takes to have that conversation, and how important it is for the conversation to be had,” she said. “The play asks, ‘what is justice in today’s global narrative?'”
The play will be shown at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Williams Center for the Arts.
Written by Misty Earisman ’18.