Evidence and Soviet Rhetorical Devices. Staging Justice at the Nuremberg Trial, 1945-1946

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    In November 1945, the Central Studio for Documentary Film sent a team of cameramen to Nuremberg to film the trial of the main Nazi war criminals. At the end of the eleven months of trial, the Studio released the feature film Sud Narodov (The Peoples’Tribunal, 1946 / The Nuremberg Trial, 1947) on the Soviet and American screens. Originally intended to celebrate a historic event, this production was in fact part of the political and media competition between East and West on the eve of the "Cold War". In the Nuremberg courtroom, the Soviet filmmakers shared filming with other newsreels operators, including a team from Signal Corp. If they happened to work together, the distribution of the shooting ranges was strict. Under these conditions, how did the filmmakers make their film? What were their biases in staging the event? And what distinguished it from the American filmmakers? As I would like to show, the choices of Soviet filmmakers, if they answered to specific constraints, are more broadly part of a history of professional practices. These practices were forged in the 1920s and 1930s when staging justice became a major political issue. This legacy forms the backdrop for the sophisticated rhetoric of the film made in Nuremberg. The articulation of this double context makes it possible not only to better characterize the objectives and expectations aroused by this enterprise, but also to highlight the historiographical claims which forms the Soviet approach starting point.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThat Justice be Done.
    Subtitle of host publicationSocial Impulses and Professional Contribution to the Accountability for Nazi and War Crimes, 1940s–1980s
    PublisherUniversity of Rochester press
    Number of pages46
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

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