Film Club

Conversations on Essential Cinema: Judgment at Nuremberg

June 20, 2024

Long before Schindler’s List became a must-see film, Hollywood was relatively silent about the Holocaust. World War II nostalgia received all the attention, while the Third Reich’s mass murder of Jews, the mentally handicapped, gypsies, and homosexuals did not. There was silence everywhere around these mass atrocities. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), was one of the few, and earliest of, exceptions. It is a legal drama concerning the prosecution of those Nazis who enforced the Nuremberg racial laws, which became the second trial after the one that prosecuted the surviving perpetrators. The courtroom proceeding, and the final judgment, took place at the bombed-out ruins of Nuremberg, Germany – the scene of the crime.

The film raises difficult questions about individual conscience and collective guilt. And it introduces viewers to the origins of international law and the concept of moral responsibility.

On June 20, FOLCS was joined virtually by US Circuit Judge Denny Chin to discuss Judgment at Nuremberg and its lasting impact on both law and film.

Denny Chin
United States Circuit Judge

Denny Chin is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was confirmed in April 2010 and took senior status in June 2021. He serves as the Lawrence W. Pierce Distinguished Jurist in Residence and co-Director of the Center on Asian Americans and the Law at Fordham Law School. From 1994 until his appointment to the Second Circuit, he served as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He presided over a number of noteworthy cases in the district court, including cases involving Megan’s Law, Google Books, and the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, as well as the trial of an Afghan warlord charged with conspiring to import heroin and the guilty plea and sentencing of financier Bernard Madoff.

Judge Chin graduated from Princeton University magna cum laude and received his law degree from Fordham Law School. He clerked for the Honorable Henry F. Werker in the Southern District of New York; was associated with the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell; served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; was a founding partner of the law firm Campbell, Patrick & Chin; and was a partner at a firm specializing in labor and employment law, Vladeck, Waldman & Engelhard, P.C.

Judge Chin was born in Hong Kong. He was the first Asian American appointed a United States District Judge outside the Ninth Circuit and the first Asian American appointed to the Second Circuit. Judge Chin and his wife Kathy Hirata Chin have written, produced, and presented, together with a team from the Asian American Bar Association of New York, a series of reenactments of historic cases involving Asian American litigants. He has taught Asian Americans and the Law at Fordham, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia Law Schools.