chapter  10
Trial by audience: bringing Nazi war criminals to justice in Hollywood films, 1944–59
ByLawrence Baron
Pages 18

Until recently, most studies of Holocaust cinema dated the entry of the Holocaust into American feature films either to Edward Dmytryk’s The Young Lions (1958) or George Steven’s The Diary of Anne Frank (1959).1 The public impact of the atrocity footage taken by Allied film crews and journalists when the concentration camps were liberated in 1945 and the revelations of crimes against humanity emanating from the Nuremberg Trials have been minimized as ephemeral. The scholarly consensus has maintained that the American movie industry paid little attention to a topic that would repel audiences, distract from the return to peacetime normalcy, embarrass the United States’ new ally West Germany, overshadow the evils of Soviet communism, and substantiate charges that the Jewish movie moguls promoted a pro-Jewish political agenda.2 In this regard the conventional wisdom about Hollywood’s initial failure to depict Germany’s genocidal crusade against European Jewry confirmed the prevailing silence about the subject in American society in general.3