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DFG-Project: “The U.S.-American film-project on the Nuremberg Trials: A contribution to the political culture of Post-War-Germany”

In Charge: Prof. Dr. Andreas Dörner, Institut für Medienwissenschaft; Dr. Wolfgang Form, ICWC

Research Assistant: Axel Fischer, M.A., Student Assistant: Lisa Hannappel

Court Room 600 (Regional Court of Nuremberg)
Court Room 600 inside the Nuremberg Palace of Justice during a session of the IMT.

The U.S. Army produced several hours of film during the Nuremberg Trials from 1945-1949. Until now the footage lay in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington. “Newsreel” (Welt im Film) and documentary films (Nürnberg und seine Lehren) were compiled with it. Recently the material was made available in digitised form to the „Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Kriegsverbrecherprozesse ICWC“ at Marburg University through the Robert H. Jackson Center.

The intakes make up the largest cinematic documentation of the Nuremberg Trials. Yet, the order of the sequences is rather arbitrary and therefore difficult to allocate in terms of content. In our work we sorted out the film-material. This involved the isolation of smallest correlated sequences as well as the determination of the dating. Furthermore we worked on the identification of relevant people and documented the process sequences and allocated them to the German and English trial record. In a database the results are captured what make it possible to evaluate statistical insights. Further this enables various access possibilities for research. To extend the utilization this data-base should be connected to the wide data-pool of the ICWC in the near future. This will give researchers the possibility of additional levels of access to material on the Trials beyond written documents (ex. g. case-files). The procedure with the Newsreel-Report and the Documentary-Film should be worked on in a similar way.

Current Issues

  • What was the accordance of the film-work? What were tools of production and how were they used?
  • What was filmed? What is the current stage of records?
  • How can the U.S. film-campaign be classified (Newsreel-Reports; Documentary-Film for German audience) in terms of research on propaganda and documentary-films in a media-historical context?
  • What were the ideas and values considered for future Germany in terms of the Democratisation of the German post-war society and how where they conveyed?
  • Which hints of political implication can be found in the film exposures?


These questions are relevant for a research-project which is being directed by Prof. Dr. Andreas Dörner and Dr. Wolfgang Form. It is sponsored by the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” with more that 200.000 Euros for three years.

Sketch of Court Room 600
Sketch of Court Room 600 by the U.S.Army Signal Corps.
Stuart Schulberg
Director Stuart Schulberg in front of a movie poster of his film.

Description of the Topic

The statute of the international Military Tribunal at Nuremberg was the first in the history of international criminal law to express the will of international sanctioning of state crimes. The U.S.-film-project on the Trials was part of a wide media-strategy of the Military Government to re-educate the German people and to establish a new national political culture. Until today nobody has done research on the enormous film-recording from a media-historical perspective. The aim of this project is the documentation of the entire film-material produced by the U.S. army. This involves film-study analysis and media-historical contextualization with a focus on the reporting in the media at that time as well as its function during the political transition process. The hypothesis of this project is following: The U.S.-film-campaign is a considerable part of the one of the first Transitional-Justice-Cases. Until today the Nuremberg principles from that time influence the political culture in Germany. The analysis in this project connects media-historical perspectives with epistemological interests of political cultural research. The aim is to give insights on policy transfer methods by looking at transmission techniques used for the Nuremberg-Trials-Film-project. For the future the results of this project should make it possible to examine further cases of scientific research in a similar way.


  • Systematizing and analysis of 50 hours of uncut film-material
  • Documentation of 700 sequences (0.5 to 10 minutes) of uncut film
  • Systematizing and analysis of 43 series of the German Newsreel “Welt im Film”
  • Systematizing and analysis of four documentaries (194, 76, 74 & 11minutes)
  • File-analysis (six authorities and two personal abatements)
  • Time-period: 1944 (mid) to spring 194
  • People: Lucius D. Clay; Stuart Schulberg; Budd Schulberg; Pare Lorentz; Billy Wilder; Eric Pommer; Robert McClure; Joseph Zigman



Last modified: 17.03.2015 · Wolckenh

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