Commemorating the 75th anniversary of World War II, L.A. Theatre Works is touring a new production of of one of the greatest courtroom dramas of the last century: Judgment at Nuremberg by Abby Mann. The tour comes to Purchase on November 19.
Below, Anna Lyse Erikson, Associate Producer for LATW, reflects on the story of the trials and the notion of justice.
“If anything can, it is a memory that will save humanity. For me, home without memory is like memory without hope.” – Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
The Nuremberg Trials are remembered as a major turning point in our global narrative. Ostensibly, the American-led tribunals were formed to prosecute those accused of war crimes during WWII, but the objectives of the tribunals transcended those of any standard international rulings. In order to build the case, nineteen investigative teams scoured German records, interviewed witnesses, and visited the sites of atrocities. Members of the court assembled a public record of all WWII and Holocaust war crimes, which Chief prosecutor Robert Jackson said must be created or else “future generations would not believe how horrible the truth was.”
What is justice in today’s global narrative? How can we possibly talk about what is fair or right when grappling with genocide, police brutality, and acts of terrorism? In order to maintain stability, rules must be upheld, and retributions inflicted. But when unspeakable horror happens, what is good and what is bad becomes blurred. In a world where “right” and “wrong” have lost definite meaning, where uncertainty prevails, judgment takes on a new role.
The Nuremberg trials forever impacted our notions of jurisprudence, retribution, and vengeance. The motives of the courts and their verdicts have been investigated and debated endlessly – and there seems to be no more timely moment for them to be discussed than right now, when with every new catastrophe, we’re using our judgment to define “justice.” We’re using it to shape what the world will remember about what happened and about us; we’re letting it write our own history. In every moment, our judgment is deciding what the future will be.
With judgment, the hope is not for vengeance, the hope is not to forget, the hope is not to abolish wrongdoing. The hope is to hold onto our story, because it is all we have.
-Anna Lyse Erikson, Associate Producer, L.A. Theatre Works