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The Parkes Institute

Watching the Accused Watch the Results of Nazi Crimes: Observers' Reports on the Atrocity Film Screenings in the Belsen, Nuremberg, and Eichmann Trial Seminar

Dr Reverend James Parkes
Time:
18:00
Date:
31 October 2017
Venue:
Lecture Theatre C, Avenue Campus, University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email The Parkes Institute at parkes@southampton.ac.uk .

Event details

Part of The Parkes Institute's Research Seminar Series for 2016/2017

Watching the Accused Watch the Results of Nazi Crimes: Observers' Reports on the Atrocity Film Screenings in the Belsen, Nuremberg, and Eichmann Trials

Screening films about the liberation of concentration camps during Nazi crime trials offered observers the chance to watch defendants in shameful confrontation with results of crimes of which they were accused. The defendants at the Belsen, Nuremberg, and Eichmann trials, however, stood in different relations to what the footage showed. Only the SS defendants from Bergen-Belsen were eyewitnesses to, and helped bring about, conditions in the camp's last phase; some even appeared on-screen. In contrast, most of the Nuremberg defendants had never set foot into a concentration camp. They had all known about the camps, but most could rightfully claim that they had no dealings with them. As the major organizer of the persecution of Jews, Eichmann could not make this claim, though he had also not dirtied his own hands. We do not know what defendants felt when watching the films in court. We do know what observers reported to have discovered in their facial expressions and bodily movements. Yet, different observers "discovered" quite different responses in the same defendants. So, these reports tell us more about observers' expectations and desires than about defendants' reactions. In particular, observers' attributions of shame, or its lack, tell us something about the effects we want trials to have on the accused.

Portrait photo of Professor Ulrike Weckel
Professor Ulrike Weckel

Speaker Information

Professor Ulrike Weckel is Professor of History and Journalism at the University of Giessen.

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