What ought one to watch if one wants to know about Nuremberg? Which films best capture the essence of the tribunal? We continue with our series of recommendations from famed film aficionado Lydia Maslova, who has collected a unique list to accompany the “Nuremberg: Casus Pacis” project.
‘The Man in the Glass Booth’ (1975)
Director: Arthur Hiller
Starring: Maximilian Schell, Lois Nettleton
The Man in the Glass Booth is an American drama directed by Arthur Hiller. The screenplay was adapted from a novel by the great Irish actor Robert Shaw and is based on the true story of Mossad agents kidnapping Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann and bringing him to trial in Israel where he was found guilty and executed.
Maximilian Schell plays wealthy Jewish industrialist Arthur Goldman, a Holocaust survivor who is now thriving in New York, but is clearly mentally unbalanced. He alarms his colleagues with his eccentricities which consist of a curious mix of persecution mania and paradoxical anti-semitism – as one of his employees comments: “No Gentile could be so anti-semitic... as Mr Goldman.” Schell’s performance was so powerful and affecting that he received Best Actor nominations both for a Golden Globe and an Osca.
The protagonist is kidnapped by Mossad and put on trial in Israel, under the belief that he is a former Standartenführer and a Nazi war criminal posing as a Jewish industrialist. It transpires that he is not a war criminal but he did falsify his dental records which is how Mossad traced him. However, his monologues in court prompt a conclusion: that it is possible to put every single culprit in a bullet-proof glass box and condemn him, but never get to the bottom of the true cause of a phenomenon that contradicts all moral laws. A young witness for the defence, with whose words many of contemporaries might agree, speaks of the impossibility of accepting the very fact of the Holocaust: “I do not want to believe it. If I did, I would have to resign from the human race. In my generation, that attitude is the one that prevails”.