Nuremberg




by

Eric Ferguson ©1990
5732 Bossen Terr.#2
Minneapolis, MN 55417
voice/fax: (612)726-6364
eric@celticfringe.net
http://www.celticfringe.net


CHARACTERS:

Prosecutors:
Daniel Grant, American
Cecil Thompson, British
Henri Chevrier, French
Andrei Smetinov, Soviet

Defendants:
Friedrich Messner
Otto Freitag
Werner Gust
Dietrich Reidl

Voice of Adolph Hitler

Setting:
The prison for war crimes defendants. The stage is divided in two parts. One part has a table and chairs, the simpler the better, and will serve for both the prosecutors' meeting room and the interrogation room. The other part is the prison yard. It has just a bench or two, or could even be bare.

ACT 1
Prologue


(Blackout. A voice is heard yelling "Adolph Hitler". A crowd chants "Sieg Heil", then quiets down. Adolph Hitler's voice is heard.)

HITLER
As often in history, Germany is the great pivot in the mighty struggle. In 1918 this much was clear; no resurrection of the German people can occur except through the recovery of outward power. Never will the German nation possess the moral right to engage in colonial politics until it embraces its own sons within a single state. Their sword will become our plough, and from the tears of war the daily bread of generations will grow. For no people on this earth possesses so much as a square yard of territory on the strength of a higher will or superior right, but only on the might of a victorious sword.

(Lights come up revealing DANIEL GRANT talking on the phone.)

GRANT
Yes, I'm still here operator.

HITLER
The international Jew who completely dominates Russia today regards Germany not as an ally, but as a state destined to the same fate. Never forget that the rulers of present-day Russia are common bloodstained criminals which overran a great state in a tragic hour.

GRANT
Is that her phone ringing? Hello, Honey, is that you? Sorry operator, nothing personal.

HITLER
Peace treaties whose demands are a scourge to nations often strike the first roll of drums for the uprising to come. We must clearly recognize the fact that the recovery of lost territories is not won through solemn appeals to the Lord or through pious hopes in a League of Nations, but only through force of arms. One blood demands one Reich.

GRANT
You need the local number again? DB-1251. (He speaks each digit.)

HITLER
One blood demands one Reich.

GRANT
DB-1251. (Each syllable in GRANT's line coincides with one syllable in HITLER's line above.) I thought sure she would be home now. Did you let it ring enough times? Thank you operator.


Scene 1


(GRANT hangs up and enters the interrogation room, where FRIEDRICH MESSNER is waiting for him.)

GRANT
Good afternoon Herr Messner. I am Daniel Grant.

MESSNER
Good afternoon Mr.Grant.

GRANT
Do you understand the charges against you?

MESSNER
I stand in peril of my life for having used the law for the persecution of dissidents as part of the criminal plan of the Nazi regime.

GRANT
And for the persecution of other groups as designated by the government.

MESSNER
I was using the word "dissidents" in a broad sense, since even members of persecuted groups came before me only when they were in violation of the law.

GRANT
So you admit there was persecution of some groups?

MESSNER
Very good Mr.Grant, one point to you. Yes, there was persecution.

GRANT
This does not sound like someone pleading not guilty.

MESSNER
Nevertheless, that is what it is. I can plead not guilty because this court has no authority to try me.

GRANT
We have been through all this with several defendants now. This court's authority and jurisdiction have been thoroughly established.

MESSNER
By agreement of the four powers.

GRANT
By agreement of the United Nations, yes.

MESSNER
That body did not exist until 1944, and for it to authorize this trial is to make law after an action has happened. I know western courts do not recognize ex post facto law.

GRANT
The UN only authorized trials for actions that took place under preexisting international law.

MESSNER
And what is recognized as a crime by international law? Nothing.

GRANT
The crime is waging war, banned by treaties which Germany signed.

MESSNER
Those treaties only ban war, they do not make it a "crime". "Crime" is the key word. Perhaps you could bring civil suit, but not criminal charges.

GRANT
This matter has already been resolved. The treaties do not say "civil suit" either. The UN has agreed to make these criminal cases.

MESSNER
I must also point out that only governments signed those treaties, not individuals, and individuals are not responsible for the actions of a government.

GRANT
Who else should we hold responsible? Collections of documents, public buildings? And you're not being tried for everything, only for your part in your government's actions. Now, if we could start on the particulars of your case...

MESSNER
One more point if I may Mr.Grant. It is only "aggressive war" that is illegal. There is no regulation over a nation's internal affairs. Now, the crimes I am charged with are strictly internal. The persecution of dissidents has nothing to do with war outside our borders.

GRANT
It is part and parcel of the same conspiracy. How are we supposed to separate them? How do we make peace with somebody committing genocide? When this trial is over, we will have shown that your so-called "internal" crimes are inseparable from your aggressive attempts to force Nazism on the rest of the world. We have every confidence that world opinion will agree with us.

MESSNER
No doubt.

GRANT
There is quite a large quantity of affidavits from defendants who appeared before you. Have you been able to read them all?

MESSNER
Yes, I have.

GRANT
Are they true?

MESSNER
The majority. Some of your "dissidents" were really just common criminals who want to revenge themselves on their judge by denouncing him to the allies. I have no doubt you have such criminals in your country. Nonetheless, most of what they say is correct----essentially, that they came into my court and were convicted. I do not deny that.

GRANT
You admit that the charges are true.

MESSNER
No, I admit only that these people did appear in my court and get convicted. There is nothing else to admit.

GRANT
You don't seem to understand why you're here. Perhaps you will understand better as we go over each affidavit.

MESSNER
Every single one?

GRANT
Unless you care to change your plea.

MESSNER
Of course I do not wish to change my plea, but I haven't been hearing routine cases like this for years, and I fail to see their evidentiary value.

GRANT
The court has been authorized to decide for itself what it will accept as evidence, and these cases establish a pattern which was continued until the regime's final days. I'm going to present this evidence not only to condemn your behavior, but to show the corruption of justice that ran through the whole Nazi legal system. Now, let us first look at the case of Johann Seitz, a Lutheran minister convicted of slandering the führer in February 1936. You have his affidavit before you I believe.

MESSNER
Yes.

GRANT
Was this one of your common "criminals"?

MESSNER
No, he was a genuine dissident.

GRANT
Then why did you convict him?

MESSNER
Because he had done what he was accused of.

GRANT
So you considered it a crime to criticize the führer?

MESSNER
It was not for me to consider or not consider whether it should have been a crime. Under the law as it then stood, it was a crime. I had no discretion in the matter. I saw that he was no great threat to the state, that's why I gave him only five years.

GRANT
Five years in a Nazi prison? What were his odds of survival?

MESSNER
I don't know.

GRANT
Did he survive?

MESSNER
How would I know?

GRANT
He did not survive, which you would have known had you followed up on a man you knew did nothing wrong.

MESSNER
That was not my resonsibility.

Scene 2


(Lights fade on GRANT and rise on British prosecutor CECIL THOMPSON and French prosecutor HENRI CHEVRIER just outside the meeting room.)

THOMPSON
How are you today Mr. Chevrier?

CHEVRIER
Quite well. And yourself Mr.Thompson?

THOMPSON
Very well. Were you able to get to Marseilles at all?

CHEVRIER
Briefly. I visited my wife's grave just outside the city. Some resistance people had been able to locate it for me. Otherwise I was working in Paris to prepare our cases.

THOMPSON
That's what I did also. It's amazing how much paperwork there can be for something so cut and dried.

CHEVRIER
Especially after the occupation there is so much disorganization in our records. Even a year after liberation it seems like we're just starting.

THOMPSON
Well, I don't think I'm divulging any secrets to say there's some resentment on our end toward the Americans for making us go through all this. We're too far along to go back now of course, but a lot of my government argued in favor of summary executions upon capture. Much better than the chance for a public spectacle.

CHEVRIER
I certainly share their desire to just shoot the bastards, and I would imagine everyone in France does.

THOMPSON
Exactly.

CHEVRIER
Not quite "exactly". The Nazis might embarrass us somehow, but it's more likely we'll humiliate them.

THOMPSON
That has it's own problems.

CHEVRIER
What do you mean?

THOMPSON
We are going to have to put Germany back together again someday, and we'll have to work with their leaders.

CHEVRIER
Not these leaders. They'll be dead when the trials end.

THOMPSON
But that's exactly the sort of humiliation we foisted on them after the last war.

CHEVRIER
No, it's not the same at all! It's one thing to just spread the blame unevenly between former enemies. What they did to us is something else entirely.

THOMPSON
There's national honor at stake.

CHEVRIER
There is blood crying out, not just some wounded pride!

THOMPSON
That does make some sense, that one might feel that way.

CHEVRIER
Some sense, yes.

THOMPSON
The trials will help then?

CHEVRIER
We can show France ending up on top in the end, by executing enemy leaders and being able to call our occupiers to account. you must want something like that yourself.

THOMPSON
I suppose so, yes.

CHEVRIER
Won't you gain something out of these trials?

THOMPSON
Well, who can argue with revealing the truth behind Nazism? Obviously we don't want to see something like this happen again, and certainly I will gain a great satisfaction from a conviction, maybe there will even be a knighthood in it.

CHEVRIER
At least a knighthood would be something tangible.

THOMPSON
If you're going to mistrust my motives, at least believe I'll do my job. I mean, won't you gain something from your participation here, as far as public prominence?

CHEVRIER
I'm looking for more than just a resumé credit.

THOMPSON
But it's quite the resumé credit, isn't it. Quite a plum on top of revenge.

CHEVRIER
You are correct as far as that goes. You'll have to excuse me, I need to speak with our chief prosecutor before the meeting.

THOMPSON
Of course. I'll see you inside then.

(CHEVRIER exits. Lights come up on the meeting room. THOMPSON and GRANT enter.)

GRANT
Good day Mr.Thompson

THOMPSON
Ah, hello Mr.Grant. How do you do.

GRANT
Pretty well. Any sign of the other prosecutors?

THOMPSON
Mr.Chevrier is already here. Col. Smetinov should be here any time.

GRANT
Good. I'd like to get this powwow over with and get back to someplace warm. Of course, I suppose we should be glad we don't have to do this outdoors, with the shape Germany is in.

THOMPSON
We'll have to tell Bomber Command to leave a few more buildings standing after the next war. In any case, we might as well settle in since we're likely to be here a few months. At least. (Shudders and puts his coat around himself.) I can't recall the last time London was this cold.

GRANT
You're from there, right?

THOMPSON
Sort of. I've usually had a house in London and one in the country. In fact, I plan to live in my boyhood home once I've finished rebuilding it from a near ruin. Assuming I can find the money.

GRANT
I suppose the Germans helped it along?

THOMPSON
During the blitz. Unfortunately, my line of the family has gotten further and further away from the title over the generations, so we don't have the money we had when it was built some centuries ago. The ironic thing about it is that this is a country house, exactly where one would send a family to protect them from attack.

GRANT
Then why did they bomb your house?

THOMPSON
I don't know. Probably they were just lightening their load so they could run from our fighters. I was in a London bomb shelter at the time. At least I now have one thing my noble ancestors didn't have.

GRANT
What's that?

THOMPSON
Highly decorative bomb fragments.

GRANT
(They share a laugh, then the conversation dies a moment.) I found London rather pleasant during our meetings there. Quite a welcome change from the heat and humidity in Washington. You know, I'll bet every ambitious lawyer back there is wishing he was here.

THOMPSON
I was thinking how ironic it is these war crimes trials are being held in this city. Of course, it's also rather fitting.

GRANT
Ever since I heard that these trials were going to be held in Nuremberg, I've kept remembering the Nazis' Nuremberg rallies I saw in the newsreels before the war. Even with Hitler dead, you can still feel him hanging over everything, sort of affecting the whole atmosphere,...

THOMPSON
As if he's making everything colder.

GRANT
Right, like his ghost is still here, haunting us, and watching over this trial. When I was in the stadium, I thought I could almost hear echoes from the rallies.

THOMPSON
Then we better get a conviction, or the demon will still be with us. Maybe they should get rid of us lawyers and bring in some priests. Still, it's hard to see how we can lose with so much evidence. It's not as if we're lacking for bodies, let alone witnesses and the Germans own documents. I've never seen such record keepers. Of course, there's never been a trial like this before.

GRANT
I can't think of one like it either. Usually the winner just exiles the loser or makes them give up a chunk of land or something.

THOMPSON
I fear these are different times we're living in.

GRANT
God help us if the times aren't different.

THOMPSON
Not that we're not on the right side, but don't you think that it might be a little bit idealistic to think that we're anything other than the victors lording it over the vanquished?

GRANT
Well for crissakes, if we can't judge the Nazis, who can we judge?

(CHEVRIER enters.)

CHEVRIER
Ah, Mr.Grant, I see you've arrived. Any sign of Col.Smetinov?

GRANT
He's on his way so far as I know. How was Marseilles?

CHEVRIER
Beautiful. Nothing like this.

GRANT
Perhaps the Russian prosecutor brought his weather with him to help him feel at home.

THOMPSON
Perhaps he would feel more at home if we told him to speak into the light fixtures.

GRANT
I was able to go through Paris on my way here.

CHEVRIER
What did you think of Paris Mr.Grant?

GRANT
Well, I didn't exactly see the city at its best, under the circumstances. In fact, there were so many American troops there I almost felt I was back in the states.

THOMPSON
Or back in London.

GRANT
Yes, or back in London.

CHEVRIER
It is a shame that at the moment it doesn't compare to an American city.

GRANT
Well, I wouldn't go so far as that.

(Enter SMETINOV.)

THOMPSON
Good day Colonel.

SMETINOV
Good afternoon gentlemen.

THOMPSON
Were you able to find time for a visit home Colonel?

SMETINOV
No, business kept me in the Soviet occupation zone. It was a bit like being home though-----the place was in ruins.

GRANT
Well, I see it's exactly one o'clock, so, shall we get started?

SMETINOV
Mr.Grant, you have the punctuality of a German. Very well then, what shall we discuss first?

THOMPSON
It's mostly a few logistical matters. Should we meet regularly or as necessary?

CHEVRIER
It would be better if we met as necessary, since different cases are likely to involve different amounts of time.

SMETINOV
On the contrary Mr.Chevrier, I believe we should meet every day before that day's session. Only in that way can we be freshly prepared for the criminals we are trying that day.

GRANT
I think we must be careful to say "defendants", Col.Smetinov, not "criminals".

SMETINOV
I do not see what difference it makes Mr.Grant.

GRANT
Colonel, nobody has been convicted yet.

SMETINOV
They're going to be. The whole world knows what they have done. Our task is to see that the world hears the particulars of their crimes, and to disgrace fascism so thoroughly that it will never be a threat again.

GRANT
Obviously these things are important, however, it is necessary to make this trial appear as impartial as possible.

SMETINOV
Impartial? The Nazis are being tried by their enemies. There is no question about the partiality of these proceedings. The purpose of this trial is unquestionably political.

GRANT
There has to be a presumption of innocence, otherwise, how can you call it a fair trial?

SMETINOV
I am not concerned with calling it a fair trial. I am more concerned with exposing the monsters who started this war.

GRANT
If the trial isn't fair, it's worthless.

SMETINOV
This is not a western court, Mr.Grant, and we are wasting time arguing over...semantics.

GRANT
There is a lot more to it than just semantics...

THOMPSON
Gentlemen...Col.Smetinov, this is an important part of western legal philosophy...

SMETINOV
But this is not a western court Mr.Thompson, that is the point I am trying to make.

THOMPSON
Perhaps we could compromise this way. You use the word "criminals" as you see fit, but in all English translations we will use the word "defendants". Would this be agreeable to you?

SMETINOV
I will discuss it with the rest of the Soviet prosecutorial team. Now as to our meetings...

CHEVRIER
Let me state that we will use "defendants" in French documents too.

THOMPSON
Very good Mr.Chevrier. Let us discuss then the order in which we will bring the cases.

CHEVRIER
We should first prove the crimes occurred before we assign personal responsibility.

THOMPSON
What do you mean exactly?

CHEVRIER
We should present the documentary evidence that the massacres and slave labor and so on occurred.

GRANT
I am not sure I see the point of that. Surely all those crimes will be revealed in the course of trying the individual defendants. The documentary evidence, and what they've told us in the interrogations will damn them.

CHEVRIER
I believe that a general presentation is necessary to satisfy the legal niceties, as well as serving to expose the Nazi regime as a whole.

GRANT
The individual trials will cover all the legal niceties. All we'll accomplish by adding on a general presentation is to lengthen the trial. If the trials go on too long the public will get bored, we'll get bored, and we will be doing a disservice to the defendants.

CHEVRIER
We are not here to serve the defendants.

GRANT
In America we have a saying, "justice delayed is justice denied", and I believe a delay in the actual start of the trial will damage our credibility.

CHEVRIER
Americans are not the only ones who believe in fair trials Mr.Grant! I am not interested in a mere "show trial". After the liberation, I spent some months in trials just like these for collaborators. If they could get fair trials when we hated them more than the Nazis themselves, I think the Nazis themselves can get fair trials.

GRANT
You hated collaborators more than the Nazis?

CHEVRIER
It's the experience of being under occupation. The Nazis often might be nothing more than the people whose tanks crack your streets as the roll along, but the collaborators are closer to home, literally. They completely disrupt daily life, which is the point of course. They're the people who flatter the local military commander to get a job with the city, or conduct the collection of local Jews. Collaborators are the people down the street who denounce you to the Gestapo for an extra food ration. They turned in my wife, who was killed when the Germans shot hostages in retaliation for resistance activities. This might be theory to you Mr. Grant, but this is flesh and blood to me!

GRANT
I lost my own flesh and blood Mr. Chevrier. My son died fighting to liberate French North Africa.

CHEVRIER
Probably killed by a collaborator.

GRANT
Maybe. I've no way to know.

SMETINOV
Surely now, gentlemen, you must see my point. The public must know about this. Invasions, massacres, puppet regimes----it is necessary to educate the world as to the Nazi's crimes, and they will understand this better through a general prosecution.

THOMPSON
It may also save us the necessity of proving anew with each individual case that the crimes occurred, and we can then get on with proving individual responsibility.

GRANT
That depends entirely upon the defense used by each individual defendant. They could still deny the existence of the particular crimes each is accused of.

CHEVRIER
I will grant you that. However, a general prosecution will demonstrate that these crimes reveal the entire nature of the Nazi government. To do as you suggest would allow the world, and the German people, to think that these crimes were nothing but the actions of a few individuals. It's exactly the excuse they're looking for.

GRANT
Can we at least agree to avoid dragging out the whole process? For example, can we be satisfied with showing that there was a campaign of genocide against the Jews without proving the campaigns carried out in each individual nation?

THOMPSON
That seems a reasonable compromise.

CHEVRIER
That is what I was thinking of anyway.

SMETINOV
I worry that we may be missing too many details, but I will go along for now.

THOMPSON
Under the circumstances then, it seems we could decide the actual order of the cases at a later date, or even leave that for our staffs, so why don't we decide in what order we will take a turn at examining each witness.

GRANT
Just so we're straight about what we mean, we are going to have one prosecutor from each nation's staff present our cases against each defendant before moving on to the next defendant. Is that how we all understand it? (They agree.)

THOMPSON
So let's decide the order then, shall we.

GRANT
Now we're going to drop the gloves.

THOMPSON
Pardon?

GRANT
Nothing.

THOMPSON
Well then, which of us will have the honor of presenting evidence first? (All are silent for a moment.)

SMETINOV
I must point out at this time that the Soviet Union has borne the brunt of the fighting against the Germans.

CHEVRIER
France was the first among us to come under attack.

THOMPSON
Mr.Chevrier, Britain joined in the war at the same time France did.

CHEVRIER
Britain never had its territory invaded.

THOMPSON
No, but we took a very heavy beating from the Luftwaffe during the year we fought the axis powers single-handed, after France surrendered.

CHEVRIER
It is France's bad fortune to share a common border with Germany, and do not forget that while we were receiving the whole brunt of the Nazi attack, America was protecting its neutrality and the Soviet Union was in an alliance with Hitler.

GRANT
Now wait a minute...

SMETINOV
There is no truth to that accusation.

CHEVRIER
There is no point in denying it, the whole world knows about your pact with the Nazis before they turned on you.

GRANT
Is any of this relevant?

CHEVRIER
It should need no explaining.

GRANT
If it will help matters at all, I will volunteer to bat cleanup. That means I am willing to go last.

CHEVRIER
I do not understand the meaning of "cleanup". It sounds like you are accepting a humble position.

GRANT
It's just an expression. Besides, don't you Europeans often say Americans could use a little dose of humility? (The others chuckle.) Gentlemen, it is already past our scheduled adjournment time, so may I suggest we settle this matter at a later meeting? (THOMPSON looks at his watch, which indicates they have not reached the scheduled time.)

SMETINOV
A very good suggestion Mr.Grant.

THOMPSON
This same time three days hence then. (All agree, say their good-byes, CHEVRIER and SMETINOV exit. THOMPSON listens to his watch to hear if it's working. It is.) Do you have the correct time?

GRANT
No, I'm afraid my watch stopped just after the meeting started. Good day Mr.Thompson. (exits)

THOMPSON
Good day Mr.Grant. (to himself) Brother Jonathan has more subtlety than I thought. (He exits and lights fade as Hitler's voice is heard.)



Scene 3


(Lights come up on the prison yard. Enter Friedrich MESSNER. He looks around him and closes his coat around him against the cold. He sits and closes his eyes.)

HITLER
On February 24, 1920, the first great public demonstration of our young movement took place. Every single point was accepted amid jubilant approval. Into the rotten and cowardly bourgeois world and into the triumphant march of the Marxist wave of conquest a new power phenomenon was entering, which at the eleventh hour would halt the chariot of doom.

MESSNER
The Chariot of Doom.

(Enter OTTO FREITAG.)

FREITAG
Messner! Over here! Friedrich Messner.

MESSNER
Freitag? Otto Freitag.

FREITAG
Welcome to prison Friedrich.

MESSNER
I'm not sure whether to thank you under the circumstances, Herr Freitag.

FREITAG
Let's just use first names Friedrich, at least among ourselves.

MESSNER
All right, Otto.

FRIETAG
So the judge couldn't resist see htings from the inside.

MESSNER
It would appear that neither could the jailer.

FREITAG
Ah, it'll be good to talk to someone with some wit and intelligence instead of these idiots around here. Well, how long have you been here Friedrich?

MESSNER
I arrived late this morning.

FREITAG
I have been here two days now.

MESSNER
Well, what do you think of it?

FREITAG
What is there to think about it? It's a jail. We're going to stay here whether we like it or not.

MESSNER
It could be worse. They could have shot us.

FREITAG
Instead they're going to put us on trial. Then they're going to shoot us. (MESSNER laughs weakly.) Come on Friedrich, show some life, you don't want them to think you've been beaten already.

MESSNER
No, I suppose not. I'm just feeling very tired, almost numb you could say.

FREITAG
It's just the shock of it all. It's hard to fall as far as we have. Not that I've ever been through it before, but when's the last time anybody made up a tragic hero who spent his whole life on the bottom?

MESSNER
Never that I can think of.

FREITAG
Not that we don't have our tragic heroes among us.

MESSNER
What do you mean?

FREITAG
I mean Werner Gust. You heard he was going to be here, didn't you? He seems to picture himself as Siegmund from the ring cycle. He's convinced that we're great heroes who couldn't win because the gods were against us, but our memory is going to inspire another generation to try again and they will succeed. They will be Siegfried and break Wotan's spear, you see.

MESSNER
Who knows, maybe it will happen, provided the next generations don't busy themselves with spitting on our graves.

FREITAG
You have grown distinctly more morose since the war ended.

MESSNER
I was getting this way before the war ended, but I tried not to let it show, at least while the führer was still alive. After that I was too busy trying to organize the new government to give much thought to anything.

FREITAG
Likewise with me. I honestly thought they would want us to stay in power to help provide some organization after the war ended. Oh, just in case you weren't miserable enough, here comes "Siegmund" now, and his shriveled shadow, Dietrich Reidl.

MESSNER
Reidl looks awful.

FREITAG
I wonder if he'll live long enough to be hanged.

(Enter GUST and REIDL.)

GUST
Herr Messner, I have not seen you since the cabinet broke up.

MESSNER
No Herr Gust, I have been under house arrest until just this morning.

REIDL
Good day Herr Messner.

MESSNER
Good day Herr Reidl.

GUST
Well, with all of us together, I feel like the führer is still with us.

MESSNER
I feel like he's here also. (He wraps his coat tighter in an attempt to warm up.)

REIDL
I feel the cold too. When a strong wind comes I start thinking my cell would be more comfortable.

GUST
Our soldiers endured more than this these last few winters.

REIDL
Of course Herr Gust, I would never disparage them. Our sacrifices are of an entirely different kind.

GUST
He's right of course, though I don't know how we can ever match the sacrifices our soldiers made. The best we can do is try to bring some meaning to them.

FREITAG
How, at this point, do you propose we do that Herr Gust?

GUST
I intend to defend what we did.

FREITAG
You're going to try for an acquittal by proving that we were right and they were wrong?

GUST
Yes.

FREITAG
Well, naturally, after six years of war, they're suddenly going to say "oh no, we've been wrong all this time. Can we say we're sorry and start Nazi parties of our own?".

GUST
Don't be sarcastic. I know we won't be acquitted, but that is the only honorable way.

FREITAG
What good is honor going to do us when we're dead?

GUST
It will be all we take with us to the grave Herr Freitag. What's more, it is something we can give the German people.

FREITAG
What, we can let them think they won?

GUST
We can let them think the cause was right. What they will need in the future are heroes. We will be those heroes if we handle this trial correctly. If we show courage in the face of our accusers. You can plead for your life if you want, you hopeless cynic, but I have ideals, and I will remain unbowed in the face of the enemy.

MESSNER
Even our own people are likely to end up hating us by the time everything comes out.

GUST
Those living now might, but the next generation will raise statues of us in every city in the country.

FREITAG
Do you think they'll even be paying attention by then?

GUST
What do you mean by that?

FREITAG
Who's going to be interested in us after their done with Speer and Hoess and Goerhing?

GUST
Second-rate again, even in crime, Herr Freitag.

FREITAG
I don't care to discuss it with you.

GUST
You almost had my job once Otto, let that comfort you on the gallows.

FREITAG
You were a glorified train conductor.

MESSNER
What are the military men talking about over there?

GUST
They're probably talking about how we corrupt and incompetent civilians lost the war for them.

FREITAG
Just like we try to blame everything on them.

REIDL
You see Herr Messner, the prisoners have already divided themselves into several groups. For the most part the military men keep to themselves and we civilians keep to ourselves.

GUST
It still galls me that an admiral was put in charge of the government after the führer killed himself. What did Dönitz know about political matters? One of us should have been put in charge. I doubt any of us would have surrendered so quickly.

FREITAG
The war was over Gust, it was just a matter of admitting it.

GUST
Nonetheless, there was no reason things had to reach this point. We needed a stronger leader who could convince the allies of the need for some sort of German government staying in place.

MESSNER
Don't go blaming Dönitz, Herr Gust. The allies had no intention of allowing any remnant of the regime to stay in power and no one could have convinced them otherwise.

REIDL
That still doesn't explain the choice of Dönitz.

MESSNER
He didn't seem to have so much blood on his hands, at least we didn't think so. Apparently the allies don't see it that way. Of course, under the circumstances, anyone with a single clean finger would have seemed guiltless to us.

GUST
Are you going to plead guilty, Messner?

MESSNER
No. I'm going to try to save my skin. Though as tired as I feel now I'm not sure I care.

REIDL
Everyone feels dead to the world the first couple of days here. It passes.

MESSNER
I wish you hadn't put it that way.

GUST
I want to know how you intend to save your skin when the rest of us already feel the rope around our necks.

MESSNER
I will tell them the truth. I was just following German law. They'll understand that. After all, I'm sure they had to obey distasteful orders during the war.

FREITAG
You too, Friedrich? Isn't it amazing how the only people in Nazi Germany who gave orders are now dead, and all the living were just obeying. I thought the reason for being in a position to give orders was to let other people do the dying!

GUST
I do not appreciate your sense of humor.

REIDL
He's right though. The allies aren't going to accept any sort of defense.

GUST
And what will you do? Get down on your knees and beg for mercy?

REIDL
No. Not exactly. I will keep a sense of personal dignity.

GUST
You're going to throw yourself on the mercy of the court.

REIDL
You make it sound worse than it is.

GUST
Then why don't you explain it to me.

REIDL
I would love to be immortalized as a great hero someday, but I don't know that that's ever going to happen. The allies might never permit such a thing. What I'm sure of is we are a defeated and occupied country, and the allies are making all the decisions about life and death. Perhaps a bit a contrition is all that they're looking for. Perhaps all they want is for us to say we were wrong so as to help pacify the people. If that's their price for letting me live, I don't think that's so high.

GUST
I would have wanted your statue built next to mine. Now it looks like I may be the only martyr.

FREITAG
Were you hoping that there would be so many martyrs that the allies would somehow forget to kill you?

GUST
Damn you, can't you see this is the last chance to defend our cause? If you're so sure your worthless life is finished then why don't you at least try to salvage your reputation?

FREITAG
You're so determined to be a symbol for future generations. Why don't you think about the family you've got now?

GUST
I am thinking about the family I've got now. When I'm dead, the whole Nazi regime will be hanging over their heads, and the weight of it will depend upon how I conduct myself here. When they are social outcasts for being my family, at least they will be able to say " Werner Gust never bowed before the enemy." I can give them that much pride.

FREITAG
They will still have to live with the knowledge that you were a war criminal!

GUST
And yours won't?

FREITAG
I will allow them to deny it. No matter what I am accused of, no matter what evidence they present, I will deny everything I am personally accused of. Then at least my family will be able to say, "He never admitted a thing. He never had a chance in that unfair trial." Then at least they can deny I was ever a war criminal. I will give them that, even if I have to lie like the devil to do it.

GUST
You've had plenty of practice already.

FREITAG
Well, now I can tell the truth about what I think of you.

MESSNER
(Breaking the tension.) I am so glad the allies moved me out of my chateau today. Otherwise I would be sleeping in a comfortable bed instead of listening to you two arguing.

FREITAG
I always said you should have been a diplomat Friedrich. If you had been foreign minister instead of Ribbontrop, Stalin would have given us his half of Poland and half of Russia besides.

GUST
In all honesty though, Friedrich, don't you want to come out of this with some of your honor intact?

REIDL
The least they can do is let us leave here with some sense of personal honor.

MESSNER
Right now Herr Gust, I just want to come out of this courtyard and go back to the bunk in my cell. The only mercy I want from them is a chance to discuss with my wife how we should tell our grandson about his mother. When do they let us back in?

GUST
Soon I think.

FREITAG
Have they announced the order in which we're to be tried?

REIDL
No. They want to complete the interrogations first.

FREITAG
I just want to get it over with.

GUST
I'd feel more comfortable if they had issued individual indictments instead of a general indictment.

FREITAG
What, do you think you might try to wriggle out of it after all?

GUST
You would never have spoken this way when the führer was alive.

FREITAG
To you I would have.

MESSNER
No you wouldn't have. Hitler scared you, like he scared all of us. I even hesitated to call him "Hitler" instead of "the führer". That fear is the reason we obeyed insane orders. We have to make the allies understand that after living a long time under a madman, the smell of fear is stronger than even the smell of corpses.

FREITAG
And what do we say when they ask us why we didn't stop him early on?

MESSNER
(He pauses to think, but he has no answer) I'm too tired to think about it anymore.

REIDL
They're calling us in now.

MESSNER
Thank God.

(Lights fade on the prison yard.)


Scene 4


(CHEVRIER is interrogating FREITAG in the interrogation room.)


CHEVRIER
Herr Freitag, you plan to plead not guilty.

FREITAG
That is correct.

CHEVRIER
Are you aware of the amount of evidence against you?

FREITAG
Yes.

CHEVRIER
And you still want to plead not guilty?

FREITAG
That might be the reason I said "yes".

CHEVRIER
Don't be sarcastic. It would behoove you to be cooperative.

FREITAG
You'll have to make your case yourself. I'm not putting the gun to my own head.

CHEVRIER
You won't necessarily be executed, even if you're convicted.

FREITAG
You'll forgive me for thinking the only "if" is if the bullet will strike my heart or my brain.

CHEVRIER
Not everyone thinks like you, but suit yourself. Now, you have quite a long string of charges against you. To begin with, you are accused of having been in charge of Gestapo efforts in Norway and Denmark to eliminate members of the resistance in those countries. This is correct so far?

FREITAG
No.

CHEVRIER
No?

FREITAG
No.

CHEVRIER
You will admit to having been in those countries during the war?

FREITAG
There is nothing to admit. That just happens to be where I was assigned during the occupation of those countries.

CHEVRIER
Why were you assigned there?

FREITAG
We were searching for allied spies, a perfectly acceptable function in wartime.

CHEVRIER
And that was all you were doing?

FREITAG
Yes.

CHEVRIER
You never authorized any torture or any massacre of prisoners?

FREITAG
No. Nothing like that ever happened.

CHEVRIER
It would appear you had a different opinion on the matter when you ordered the execution of 25 prisoners just outside Oslo. (CHEVRIER hands FREITAG a document.) You have had adequate time to examine the documents relevant to your case?

FREITAG
My counsel and I are still going over them.

CHEVRIER
You will notice your signature on this document.

FREITAG
That is not my signature.

CHEVRIER
Then how did it get there?

FREITAG
That is a forgery.

CHEVRIER
Would you mind telling me who forged it?

FREITAG
I don't know.

CHEVRIER
Please oblige me, Herr Freitag, and take a guess.

FREITAG
I don't know, perhaps an overzealous inferior, or perhaps one of my superiors wanted to pass the blame on to someone else. The date is probably wrong too.

CHEVRIER
You are at least admitting that these executions happened.

FREITAG
I have no personal knowledge.

CHEVRIER
Herr Freitag, none of your superiors would have been involved in such a minor matter as a few executions.

FREITAG
Then it must have been one of my inferiors.

CHEVRIER
You mean they were able to execute this many people without your knowledge?

FREITAG
Apparently.

CHEVRIER
So they might have done this a number of times?

FREITAG
Possibly.

CHEVRIER
It would appear that you were completely incompetent in your position.

FREITAG
There is no reason for you to claim such a thing.

CHEVRIER
Either you were in charge and therefore gave the order for these executions, or you were so incompetent that you allowed your inferiors to commit massacres as they saw fit. Which is it, Herr Freitag?

FREITAG
You have not so much as established that these executions took place.

CHEVRIER
You admitted this much just a moment ago.

FREITAG
I admitted no such thing.

CHEVRIER
It was only a moment ago you admitted there were executions.

FREITAG
Plainly there has been some fault in the translation that has caused us to misunderstand each other.

CHEVRIER
You speak French, not so, Herr Freitag?

FREITAG
Yes, I worked some years in France before the war. I also went there on holiday while it was under our occupation. Of course, I cannot claim credit for the swiftness of our conquest.

CHEVRIER
Since you seem to claim such fluency, might I suggest you speak in French instead of using the translator?

FREITAG
No, I choose to continue using the translation. For these proceedings I will speak in German.

CHEVRIER
The translation is unnecessary Herr Freitag, since you probably speak French as well as the translators.

FREITAG
The defendant has the right to translation and I refuse to give it up.

CHEVRIER
Very well Herr Freitag. Let us then turn to more weighty matters. I have affidavits from 37 people who were tortured in jails under your charge. They claim to have seen you at many interrogations. In fact, many say you were in personal direction of their interrogations.

FREITAG
So what if I conducted interrogations? Will you be tried for these interrogations?

CHEVRIER
Stick to the point. You have seen these documents, Herr Freitag?

FREITAG
Yes.

CHEVRIER
Why did you use torture in your interrogations?

FREITAG
I never did.

CHEVRIER
Then why do all these people have the idea they were tortured?

FREITAG
If they were tortured, they were not interrogated by me.


CHEVRIER
Everything is the fault of your superiors, or your inferiors, or somebody who is dead, or somebody who has not yet been captured...it appears you have embarked upon a strategy of incriminate the absent.

FREITAG
I have told you the plain truth. I lack a Frenchman's subtlety.

CHEVRIER
Would you like me to mention some of the methods of torture you used?

FREITAG
That would not be relevant to the question of whether I was the one doing the torturing.

CHEVRIER
Let's see...the old-fashioned thumb screw, enforced sleeplessness, simple beatings, and executing captured commandos by injecting air into their bloodstream.

FREITAG
That's nothing to do with me!

CHEVRIER
Then explain how all these people saw you.

FREITAG
They must have seen someone else. Someone with a description similar to mine.

CHEVRIER
They named you explicitly.

FREITAG
They probably first learned my name when they gave their depositions.

CHEVRIER
They claim to have heard your name while in prison.

FREITAG
If that is so, they just overheard someone talking about me. If they were being tortured, their memories would undoubtedly be clouded.

CHEVRIER
The torture victims who were interviewed before this trial seemed to have the names and faces of their tormentors burned into their memories. You still maintain all 37 are mistaken?

FREITAG
Yes.

CHEVRIER
You expect me to believe 37 people have misidentified you!?

FREITAG
Why stop at 37? Why not 38, 39, an even 40? Why not a hundred?!

CHEVRIER
We count ourselves lucky to have found 37 still alive. The Gestapo did its best to get rid of witnesses. Perhaps these 37 are another example of incompetence Herr Freitag.

FREITAG
Maybe it's an example of mercy that they got to live.

CHEVRIER
So you did show mercy once in a while.

FREITAG
If it was part of the job.

CHEVRIER
You were only doing a job?

FREITAG
Of course. I didn't go there to kill people. I liked traveling, and I had a job with a good salary that got me away from the center of things.

CHEVRIER
You didn't want to engage in messy politics.

FREITAG
That's a good way to put it.

CHEVRIER
Then why did you later take a position in Berlin?

FREITAG
(He thinks a moment) It had an even better salary.

CHEVRIER
One last matter before we're done for the day. In December 1944 you were appointed to a high position in the German civil defense office. Would you mind explaining the part of this document in which you order that no provision be made for sheltering slave laborers working in factories subject to allied bombing?

FREITAG
(He looks at the document.) We were never able to protect everyone, especially as the bombing became heavier.

CHEVRIER
But you made every effort to protect German civilians---why not the slave laborers?

FREITAG
I did not deliberately exclude the foreign laborers.

CHEVRIER
On the contrary, that is precisely what you did. There is your signature to it, or are you going to claim that this is another forgery?

FREITAG
It might be, I do not recall this document.

CHEVRIER
How can you not recall? This was barely a year ago!

FREITAG
There were a great many documents that passed by me during the course of the war. I cannot be expected to remember all of them.

CHEVRIER
It is amazing Germany lasted as long as it did. Its leaders seem to have had abominable memories.

FREITAG
We needed those workers. It would have made no sense to allow them to die.

CHEVRIER
No sense?! May I ask which Nazi atrocities did make sense? This regime wasted lives all over Europe. Lives were the most expendable resources you had. Oil or munitions you would have saved, but you deliberately left those slaves helpless before the allied bombers.

FREITAG
May I suggest then that you charge this crime to those who sent the bombers to attack civilian targets?

CHEVRIER
You will do better to answer the questions Herr Freitag. This obstruction will gain you nothing, except to make you look like a liar.

FREITAG
I can see to my own defense thank you. I don't need your help.

CHEVRIER
Nor will you get it. (Blackout)


Scene 5


(The interrogation room. THOMPSON is interrogating REIDL.)

THOMPSON
Good morning Herr Reidl.

REIDL
Good morning Mr.Thompson.

THOMPSON
Are you pleading not guilty, Herr Reidl?

REIDL
Yes.

THOMPSON
May I take it then that you are denying any involvement with the crimes?

REIDL
No, I am only denying that I am guilty of every accusation against me.

THOMPSON
And in which instances are you admitting guilt?

REIDL
Could you be more specific please?

THOMPSON
You do not wish to say too much. I suppose that is wise of you. All right then, you understand that the central charges against you concern the use of slave labor while you were working for Krupp Industries?

REIDL
Yes.

THOMPSON
Will you please explain then why you used slave labor?

REIDL
Um...

THOMPSON
It is already established that the company profited enormously from slave labor, so please don't consider playing games with me. I've seen them all before. Just explain yourself.

REIDL
It was necessary.

THOMPSON
Yes, now why was it necessary?

REIDL
Well, we were experiencing labor shortages. Due to the war you understand.

THOMPSON
I do recall having heard of it. Go on.

REIDL
Well, the war had drained our, that is, the nation's reserve of manpower. So many men had been taken into the armed forces, and of course there were severe losses among the civilian population, not that I would blame the allies for that. That was just the normal course of war.


THOMPSON
So essentially you are saying you were forced by labor shortages to use slaves.

REIDL
Yes.

THOMPSON
Why didn't you hire the necessary workers?

REIDL
Like I told you, there weren't any left to hire. By the end of the war boys in their early teens were serving in the front lines.

THOMPSON
What I mean is, why did you not hire foreign workers?

REIDL
I don't know. Perhaps there wasn't enough money.

THOMPSON
Or perhaps you thought it was the right of the conqueror to enslave the conquered. You certainly treated your workers as if they were easily replaced.

REIDL
That was not my decision.

THOMPSON
No?

REIDL
I had to meet production targets. I was given slave labor to use. It wasn't my desire to enslave anybody. I just did as I was told.


THOMPSON
Who told you to do it?

REIDL
My superiors.

THOMPSON
Who precisely?

REIDL
I don't remember.

THOMPSON
You don't remember. Herr Reidl, unless we do have a name on a document or unless there is sworn testimony to the same effect, we have no reason to believe you were not a completely willing participant in the use of slave labor.

REIDL
I regret very much that I used slave labor. However, with respect, I must point out that there is no evidence that I was willing.

THOMPSON
"...furthermore it must be pointed out that the use of forced labor will free more manpower for use at the front lines, besides easing the reduction of industrial labor costs." Do you recognize these words?

REIDL
No, I cannot say that I remember them.

THOMPSON
These are your words Herr Reidl, by which you persuaded uncertain leaders of German industry of the value of slave labor. Do you dispute that this is your signature?

REIDL
No.

THOMPSON
Had you not seen this document already?

REIDL
Yes, I had just forgotten.

THOMPSON
Well?

REIDL
I was ordered to say those things.

THOMPSON
Who gave the order?

REIDL
It wasn't any sort of direct, written instructions. I just thought that I was expected to say these things.

THOMPSON
Do you still defend slave labor?

REIDL
No, I understand it is wrong. I can only say how much I regret what I did, and I hope you can understand that I felt I had to do it.

THOMPSON
The allies also experienced labor shortages during the war but we never resorted to slavery, so no, I do not understand.

REIDL
Again with respect, you did resort to a draft to fill your armed forces. Surely conscription must be considered a kind of forced labor.

THOMPSON
You will grant there is a difference between conscription of men and the conscription of boys.

REIDL
Oh yes, of course. I meant only that there is a slight similarity in that conscription, by definition, is involuntary.

THOMPSON
The nature of conscription is not at issue here. What is at issue is your use of slave labor and your personal responsibility for their enslavement and miserable working conditions. How would you describe the working conditions in the industries under your charge?

REIDL
Well, while there were differences in the conditions from one plant to another, we generally treated them as best as possible under the circumstances. I will admit conditions were harsh, perhaps unnecessarily so, but I doubt very much they would have been any better off in the places they had been living before being brought to Germany.

THOMPSON
By "the places they had been living" I take it you mean their homes.

REIDL
Yes, I guess. I never knew exactly where they had come from...

THOMPSON
Starvation was common among the slaves, wasn't it?

REIDL
Yes, but food was short for everybody...

THOMPSON
Any attempts at escape would have resulted in death, not so? And was it not possible other workers would have been executed at the same time to reinforce the point?

REIDL
Some found it necessary to use these measures to control the workers.

THOMPSON
Weren't beatings routinely administered for minor infractions of regulations?

REIDL
It was possible. I always felt terrible when I discovered that such things were happening.

THOMPSON
What did you do to stop these things from happening and to improve the workers conditions?

REIDL
Nothing, what could I...

THOMPSON
In fact, you condoned these conditions. There are three documented occasions in which plant managers wrote to you expressing concern about the workers being in too poor a condition to meet production targets, and your response was they should get as much work as possible out of the present workforce and you would shortly send more.

REIDL
I regret very much that I found it necessary to do that.

THOMPSON
Did you mistreat any workers personally?

REIDL
No!

THOMPSON
Are you positive?

REIDL
I can't even imagine myself doing anything like that!

THOMPSON
Are you sure your memory isn't failing you again?

REIDL
What do you mean?

THOMPSON
I have here a deposition from one Maria Polanski, a Polish woman. I doubt you ever heard her name, let alone remembered it, but she remembered you. You were apparently inspecting the clothing factory she was working in when she, well, I'll just use her own words. "I ran up to him and fell to my knees. I grabbed a hold of his coat and begged him for some milk for my infant daughter, who shortly after died from malnutrition. He responded by..." Do you care to finish her sentence Herr Reidl?

REIDL
I kicked her! I looked at her and then I kicked her! I couldn't help myself. I looked at her and I felt this sudden, overwhelming disgust, like...like a snake was crawling over my foot. I didn't kick her out of malice. It was just my reaction to what was happening. I didn't give it a moment's thought. Look, I never asked to be in charge of anything. I'm no leader. I never wanted anything to do with forced labor.

THOMPSON
The kick you gave her was the arrogance of the conqueror toward the conquered. You felt you could never be called to account for it. You kicked some meaningless woman who had the temerity to beg for milk and then you simply forgot her.

REIDL
I never forgot her! She is so burned in my memory that from that day to this I still feel her hanging on to my coat!

THOMPSON
And what did you do to resolve the situation?

REIDL
There is nothing to be done in such a situation. I lived and acted as conditions dictated I must. My rise in the company was almost accidental. I did what I had to to please my superiors and avoid causing trouble.

THOMPSON
I can see how men like yourself must be indispensable to a totalitarian regime.

REIDL
I would apologize to her face if I could.

THOMPSON
You may well get your chance someday since she is still alive. Of course, it is too late now for only God knows how many others.

REIDL
I regret very much everything that happened,...

THOMPSON
So you keep saying, but...

REIDL
...but I did nothing I deserve to die for!

THOMPSON
Just what do you think your punishment should be? Go to a blackboard and write 100 times "I will not commit genocide"? This school is too brutal for that. (Blackout)


ACT 2
Scene 1


(The meeting room. GRANT wanders toward the window. He is lost in thought when SMETINOV enters. He walks quietly up to GRANT.)

SMETINOV
Forgive me if I'm disturbing you my friend.

GRANT
(Startled) Oh, no, not at all. It is time for the meeting after all.

SMETINOV
So what were you pondering so deeply?

GRANT
Nothing important.

SMETINOV
Our British and French counterparts will be a little late. They both said some piece of business will detain them for a few minutes. They're probably talking about us, don't you suppose.

(SMETINOV checks the room for bugs.)

GRANT
(Laughing a little.) Could well be. What are you doing?

SMETINOV
The latch on my briefcase seems to be stuck. (He motions GRANT to be quiet.) There, it's safe to talk.

GRANT
What were you doing?

SMETINOV
Looking for microphones.

GRANT
In here?

SMETINOV
It seems unlikely, true, but it never hurts to be careful.

GRANT
Why don't you ask whoever plants those things whether he put one in here?

SMETINOV
Two reasons. One, that is not the sort of question you ask. Two, I am the one who plants those things.

GRANT
You are?!

SMETINOV
In fact, I volunteered to do it.

GRANT
Why? Don't you feel at all...strange, eavesdropping on people?

SMETINOV
Actually, I do. However, I have been able to put myself in a position where I am likely to know where the bugs are. In fact, the first thing I did was to have this room checked out just in case somebody had forgotten to mention a bug in here. Then I check it myself everyday. I figure that after all that, I can be reasonably sure that this one room is clean.

GRANT
Wouldn't you know if this room was bugged?

SMETINOV
It probably would not be done without my approval, but you can never be too sure.

GRANT
You mean you do this with every room you enter?

SMETINOV
Of course not. If I started removing every microphone, somebody would think I was up to something. No, I just leave the others in place.

GRANT
Then why bother with this room?

SMETINOV
I just want one place where I don't have to worry about what I say.

GRANT
You mean you...have something to hide?

SMETINOV
Mr. Grant, I am just as loyal to my country as you are to yours. I just wanted a bit of privacy.

GRANT
Why not remove the bugs from some place where you can be alone?

SMETINOV
Why worry about eavesdropping in a place where I'm not going to talk to anyone?

GRANT
This is just unfathomable to me somehow.

SMETINOV
Perhaps you're only naive. What would happen if you ran afoul of the FBI?

GRANT
I don't intend to run afoul of the FBI. They would have to suspect me of something before doing that.

SMETINOV
I hope you're right Mr.Grant.

GRANT
So do I.

SMETINOV
You know, I really do think our counterparts are busy talking about us.

GRANT
Just like we're talking about them? (They chuckle.) I think I pretty much know what they're saying anyway.

SMETINOV
You do?

GRANT
They're talking about what a pain it is for such well educated, sophisticated Europeans like themselves to have to deal with some backwoods American bumpkins. Especially during our London conferences, I could see it in their eyes. They would never say it, certainly not when our chief prosecutor is a Supreme Court Justice, but I could see they were thinking, "why don't these cowboys go back home and leave this complicated business to people who are accustomed to running the world." What really galls me is this is two wars in a row where we had to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.

SMETINOV
And now you're involved in Europe whether you like it or not. I get the impression you don't care much for our counterparts.

GRANT
No, I wouldn't say I dislike them. They've gotten better since we've been working together so long, and they seem to be pretty decent individuals. Perhaps I'm just feeling irritable today. And too, Americans have always had some sort of inferiority complex concerning Europe.

SMETINOV
If it's any comfort, I doubt they are at all enthused about having to deal with some Russian peasant. That's where I come from, I am not ashamed of it.

GRANT
Nor am I ashamed of coming from cowboys, and before them small farmers.

SMETINOV
So you see we share a similarity. The only difference is in America the workers moved away from the aristocracy, and in my country they overthrew and executed them.

GRANT
Like my ancestors probably wanted to.

(Their laughter is interrupted by the entrance of THOMPSON and CHEVRIER.)

THOMPSON
Well, I'm glad to see you gentlemen in a jolly mood.

CHEVRIER
I don't know how you can be so jolly after another day of listening to recitations of atrocities.

GRANT
I think, after all this time, I'm beginning to grow numb to it all.

THOMPSON
I understand how you feel. I don't know if falling into a routine was good or bad.

CHEVRIER
I'm too bitter to just cope.

THOMPSON
Still, the first trials should soon be done and then maybe we can get away for a while. (Simultaneously with GRANT.) I suggest we...

GRANT
I beg your pardon.

THOMPSON
No, please, go ahead.

GRANT
I was going to suggest we get right down to business.

THOMPSON
Very good suggestion. (Simultaneously again.) So, let's...

GRANT
Good. Now...

THOMPSON
Please, go ahead.

GRANT
The next case is Werner Gust. Any thoughts on how we ought to handle this one?

THOMPSON
From all I've heard, I imagine he'll be talkative. Perhaps not forthcoming, but talkative. Whoever interrogates him should just let him chatter away until he confesses without knowing he did so.

CHEVRIER
We should consider the possibility that he will attempt to use the witness stand as his last speaking platform.

GRANT
I don't see what we can do to prevent it, since defendants have been given a pretty wide latitude so far.

THOMPSON
It is hardly unknown for defendants to try to use a courtroom as a forum for their own ideas.

SMETINOV
That may be the case in your courts but it is not so in ours. I fail to see the reasoning for allowing defendants to say almost anything they want to. What is the world supposed to think of us if we cannot even control the defendants in our own courtroom?

GRANT
It is hardly as bad as all that. Whatever the defendants say, they do have to keep it relevant to their case.

SMETINOV
You are still trying too hard to dismiss the political aspects of these trials. The purpose is for us to expose them, not the other way around.

GRANT
That's the risk you take if you're going to have a fair trial---the defendant might win or embarrass you.

SMETINOV
It's a risk I prefer not to take.

GRANT
It keeps a prosecutor on his toes.

SMETINOV
It weakens the state.

THOMPSON
If you gentlemen are done bristling... There's this Friedrich Messner, who was reputed to have one of the finer legal minds in Germany. If there's anybody who might run rings around us it's him.

CHEVRIER
True, he will no doubt be thoroughly familiar with the documentation of international law we're basing the whole trial upon.

GRANT
We've been debating those points ourselves for over a year.

CHEVRIER
And we didn't even know our own opinions. He probably has a very coherent point of view.

THOMPSON
He'll probably just use some variation of the "obeying orders" defense.
GRANT
But if the judges don't accept that defense for the current crop, we shouldn't have to worry with these later trials..

THOMPSON
But the "current crop" are the highest ranking Nazis we could catch. The "obeying orders" defense might be seem more valid for lower-ranking Nazis.

GRANT
They're still pretty high up.


SMETINOV
I am uncertain that we should count so heavily on expounding this doctrine. I can't help thinking that it will be too rarefied for the general public to understand.

CHEVRIER
Then we have to put it in simple enough terms.

SMETINOV
What if we should fail to make them understand? Most people have to do things they do not want to do. They may well sympathize with Nazis who were convicted just for doing as they were told.

GRANT
So where do we draw the line? If Al Capone tells a thug to commit a murder, do we let the thug go free because Al Capone told him to do it?

SMETINOV
A governemnt in wartime has a little more legitimacy than a criminal gang.

GRANT
So how else do we stop this from happening again?

(blackout)

Scene 2


(The prison yard. MESSNER is talking to FREITAG.)

MESSNER
In a strange way, I almost look forward to taking the stand.

FREITAG
You must be joking.

MESSNER
I'll speak my mind for the first time in many years.

FREITAG
Beats waiting around to be shot.

MESSNER
There's more to it than that. I'm anxious to actually be doing something. I don't want to just wallow in self pity. This is my chance to do...something. Should I defend myself as if I actually had a chance to be acquitted? Or should I figure my life is already over and try to maintain my honor? Should I try to somehow protect my family or should I try to bring as much blame on myself as possible in hopes that the allies won't blame the German people?

FREITAG
The allies will be more benevolent occupiers if they can expend all their anger on to us?

MESSNER
It's a possibility.

FREITAG
Do you think all the allies want is to expend their righteous anger somewhere and then they'll go away? You think they'll be happy with a good performance for the newsreel cameras? "Come our people, let us show you the rats in a cage!" They want to cut up Germany for the sake of their jealousy, for their fear of each other. Forget principle. There is no such thing as principle.

GUST
(Entering with REIDL.) You are correct Otto, if you are talking about our accusers.

FREITAG
(to MESSNER) Why does he think he has the liberty to use our first names?

MESSNER
Good afternoon Werner. You too Dietrich.

REIDL
Good afternoon Friedrich.

MESSNER
Beautiful weather today.

REIDL
Yes, though I never thought spring would arrive this year.

GUST
Can you never do anything but complain?

REIDL
I'm just making small talk Werner.

GUST
I wish you would stick to small talk.

REIDL
The people I feel sorry for are all those refugees who are living outside.

GUST
At least they're the allies' problem, not ours.

REIDL
I know I wouldn't want to be in their position.

FREITAG
Oh, I don't know. Seems to me they're more likely to survive the winter than we are.

GUST
Will you never stop being cynical?

FREITAG
Of course I will---just moments after they put a noose around my neck.

REIDL
I can't believe they'll execute all of us.

GUST
You certainly pled for your craven life.

FREITAG
Will you stop. I'm tired of listening to you berate him. (to REIDL) Why don't you tell him where to get off?

REIDL
It's not as serious as all that Otto. He's just nervous because he starts his interrogations tomorrow.

GUST
I can speak for myself. And I can promise that those prosecutors will shortly meet their match.

FREITAG
Why? Does Friedrich have a session tomorrow too?.

GUST
I intend to fling as much blame as possible into their own faces. Our movement was as much as anything a response to conditions that they set up. At least with the British and French I can drag out the Treaty of Versailles.

FREITAG
Blame them for our evil?

GUST
Why not? After all, what is this trial, except this war's version of that filthy agreement?

MESSNER
You have a very interesting idea there. It won't get us an acquittal, but we might get to watch them squirm.

REIDL
I don't see how you can treat this like a game Friedrich. You ought to be scared for your life.

MESSNER
I didn't say I wasn't scared. You're the ones who are setting me up as the great debater. I'm just going to do the best I can, enjoy the give and take if I can. Maybe I wouldn't be scared if I had no hope of keeping my head, but I do have this faint hope I can't get rid of and so I'm going to be just as nervous as you were. If I can get any enjoyment at all out of matching wits with the prosecutors, let me. It might be all I get to do with my life.

REIDL
They're calling us in.

(They exit as lights go down on the prison yard.)


Scene 3


(The interrogation room. SMETINOV is interrogating GUST.)

SMETINOV
Herr Gust, you are accused of having participating in the deportation of German Jews to the concentration camps.

GUST
I am aware of this.

SMETINOV
Have you had sufficient time to examine the evidence against you?

GUST
Yes.

SMETINOV
You still deny the charges against you?

GUST
The charges are irrelevant. This court has no jurisdiction over me.

SMETINOV
The question of this court's jurisdiction has already been decided.

GUST
It was decided by this court. No court will rule against its own jurisdiction.

SMETINOV
My western colleagues tell me it is not unusual for their courts to rule against their own jurisdiction.

GUST
That is just a device they use when they are too cowardly to make a decision. Furthermore, this is not a western court.

SMETINOV
True, this is not a western court. However, this court is still fit to decide its jurisdiction. The judges have been given that power.

GUST
They have been given that power by the prosecutors. Of course, in this case, the judges and the prosecutors are the same.

SMETINOV
The judges are the finest jurists to be found in the occupying powers. They have been chosen for their impartiality and their dedication to the Rule of Law. As for your prosecutors, who are more fit to accuse you than those you made war against?

GUST
There have been many wars before this one, but I have never heard of a case of anyone being put on trial for having lost, except by their own people. Only the German people may put their leaders on trial.

SMETINOV
I have no doubt that future German governments will put former Nazis on trial. However, at present, there is no German government, and the occupying powers are trying you on behalf of the entire human race, since you have committed your crimes against the whole world and not just the people of Germany. It is on this basis that we have the right to try you.

GUST
Since the Soviet prosecutors have developed a sudden fondness for the rule of law, I must point out that there is no precedent for the trial of leaders of another nation.

SMETINOV
We are establishing the precedent here.

GUST
We are operating under western legal procedure whether you choose to admit it or not, and I know that western courts cannot act without precedents. Furthermore, there is no law higher than national sovereignty.

SMETINOV
I have just told you that the precedent is being established by these trials. The law that permits them has been made by the occupying powers.

GUST
Then your law is being made by the barrel of a gun.

SMETINOV
And how did you make law in the countries that you occupied? You made laws to exact justice for German hurts.

GUST
And you put us on trial for it.

SMETINOV
The allies have not committed the atrocities you have.

GUST
Then may I ask why Napoleon was not put on trial? He too killed millions of people in his attempt to conquer Europe. Germany has been invaded many times, but we never got to try our invaders. Not the Danes, not the Swedes, not the Poles, not even the Huns and the Romans. So why are we on trial?

SMETINOV
Times have changed.

GUST
That is nonsense. Losers have always either gone into exile, as the Kaiser did after the last war, or they have been executed. This trial is nothing but a charade leading to the executions you have intended all along anyway. Why don't you simply shoot us and get it over with?

SMETINOV
Undoubtedly there are millions who would volunteer to kill you.

GUST
Including yourself no doubt.

SMETINOV
It would be hard to find anyone in the Soviet Union who has not suffered at Nazi hands. Nonetheless, times have changed. Even loathsome creatures like you must be given a trial. Contrary to what you say, there is a law higher than national sovereignty. One of the purposes of this trial is to establish that law. The fascist philosophy you espouse is what happens when nationalism gets carried to its extreme. That's why we don't allow it in the Soviet Union.

GUST
We built camps for Jews---you built camps for dissidents. We starved Gypsies---you starved Ukrainians. What's the difference? In fact, I would guess you moved up quickly when Stalin purged the officer corps.

SMETINOV
Squirm all you want, you won't escape the law.

GUST
Are we all equal under this law?

SMETINOV
Of course.

GUST
Then why are there no Soviets among the defendants?

SMETINOV
What?

GUST
Why are there no Soviets among the defendants? Why aren't all war criminals on trial here, instead of only Germans?

SMETINOV
This court's function is to deal with only the crimes of the Nazi regime.

GUST
Are you saying there are going to be trials of allied war criminals?

SMETINOV
There are no allied war criminals. At least there are none approaching the scale of the Nazi regime.

GUST
What you are saying is the winners don't have to put themselves on trial. This is sheer hypocrisy. All you have is a more dignified rule by the strongest.

SMETINOV
Those who have broken the rules of war will be answerable for it. What remains to us here is the question of your individual guilt or innocence.

GUST
I still maintain that you cannot make the leaders of another nation stand trial, even if you have fought a war with them.

SMETINOV
I suggest you set your mind to your defense. You have a great deal to explain.

GUST
I will be proud to let the German people know what I did to foil the schemes of those who wished to destroy us.

SMETINOV
I've heard the propaganda before, now please just answer the questions. This first set of documents will serve to demonstrate your personal involvement in the holocaust. These are orders for the deportation of Jews from various German cities, all named therein. These orders all bear your signature. Do you care to explain?

GUST
I cannot claim as large a role in this as I might like. Essentially I was arranging railroad schedules. As trains became available, the enemies of the German nation were transported to the resettlement camps.

SMETINOV
Couldn't they have been kept in detention in Germany?

GUST
To what end?

SMETINOV
To what end were they moved out of Germany?

GUST
I told you, they were enemies of the German nation.

SMETINOV
Then why were some kept in Germany instead of all being transported?

GUST
This was the most practical means of handling them. At least in the short term. There was more land available in Poland. Why, may I ask, should we have been expected to harbor people intent on destroying us?

SMETINOV
You used an interesting phrase a moment ago. You called the concentration camps "resettlement camps". Why did you use that phrase?

GUST
I called them what they were.

SMETINOV
Did you.

GUST
Yes.

SMETINOV
Is that what the party called them?

GUST
Yes.

SMETINOV
So you were just deporting Jews to be "resettled"?

GUST
You are trying to lay some trap for me.

SMETINOV
What happened to them after they were transported?

GUST
They were taken to the camps! Why are you asking me these questions!? Since when have Russians cared about the welfare of Jews!?

SMETINOV
It is not the Russian treatment of Jews that is the subject! The subject is the holocaust which you have perpetrated.

GUST
Then may I suggest that you also spare the propaganda.

SMETINOV
Very well. What happened in the camps?

GUST
How am I supposed to know what happened in every single camp? Why don't you look in these innumerable documents you keep throwing in our faces? Surely they'll tell you everything you want to know.

SMETINOV
I am asking you.

GUST
Then out with it and quit dancing around the question.

SMETINOV
I was offering you the chance to admit your guilt and avoid dancing at the end of the hangman's rope. Since you decline the chance to save yourself, I'll ask directly. You sent the Jews to be exterminated, didn't you?

GUST
(pause) Yes.

SMETINOV
Why?

GUST
To save Germany.

SMETINOV
Really.

GUST
The Jews were nothing but parasites sucking innocent German blood. They never made a penny honestly, but instead made it all by speculation. While the rest of us were gallantly defending our country during the last war, the Jews stayed home and made themselves rich.

SMETINOV
Is that also the case with the Jews who served in the German army?

GUST
They were the few who were unable to escape their duty.

SMETINOV
Serving the Kaiser was every German's duty?

GUST
That's correct.

SMETINOV
So the Jews were Germans.

GUST
No they were not. They were a pollution.

SMETINOV
So they were really under no obligation to do military service.

GUST
Yes they were, if they wanted to live in our country. It was their failure to serve in that war that showed us we had to remove them to have a hope in this one.

SMETINOV
Are you sure this wasn't all just the product of Hitler's madness, or did you come to these beliefs yourself?

GUST
You don't know what life was like in Germany between the wars! Our people were impoverished by the horrible inflation the Jews' currency speculation caused, not to mention the depredations of the unfair war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. You never saw the unemployment forced upon so many millions of innocent German workers who had spilled their blood for the same people who now tried to break them. If you'd been here then, you would have seen that even our poverty could not cover the stench on every city block the Jews inhabited. You cannot condemn us for protecting our nation, just like you would have done in our situation, just like you Russians have done with your Jews.

SMETINOV
Such persecutions have been ended by our revolution, and even under the Czars such things never happened as happened here. Let's examine your background before the war.

GUST
I fail to see the necessity for that, since it is my actions during the war that I'm on trial for.

SMETINOV
Your background is necessary for the court to judge you fairly, and the world needs to know how such rabid dogs as Nazis are made.

GUST
You will not be able to engage in such name-calling in court.

SMETINOV
Then I better do it here. Now, before joining the party, you were a baker by training, correct?

GUST
Yes.

SMETINOV
Were you successful at it?

GUST
I usually managed to keep working.

SMETINOV
It appears that you changed jobs on a rather frequent basis.

GUST
Times were hard after the first war, I've just been telling you that.

SMETINOV
But your workplaces weren't closing down, they were just getting rid of you. It appears you were simply unable to hold down a job.

GUST
Am I on trial for having a bad work record? Is there something exceptional in having trouble as a young man?

SMETINOV
No, it is not exceptional, that is just the point. Such circumstances appear to have been quite common among party members. You joined the party in 1930.

GUST
That's correct, I joined early when the party was still dismissed as a fringe element.

SMETINOV
You moved up quickly into the local leadership.

GUST
The party members were the only people to recognize my abilities, unlike my stupid employers, and my schoolmasters before them.

SMETINOV
You very soon began organizing demonstrations.

GUST
That's correct.

SMETINOV
You made public speeches warning against the "Jewish menace".

GUST
As I mentioned, I had already guessed about the Jews evil intentions, even before the Führer made them plain to everybody.

SMETINOV
Had the other party members made similar guesses?

GUST
The first ones had. I always suspected that those who joined the party after it was in power did so for purely selfish reasons.

SMETINOV
But you were sincere?

GUST
Of course.

SMETINOV
You were also one of the first to recognize that Germany had lost the first war only because it was stabbed in the back.

GUST
Now you're being sarcastic. Every German felt the humiliation Germany was subjected to after the first war. Not only were we made to pay reparations which broke our economy, but we had to confess blame for the whole war, while the victors conveniently forgot that France and Russia had planned their attacks against us long before the war started.

SMETINOV
So you saw fit to restore Germany's dignity through starting another war.

GUST
As I recall, the Soviet Union became our ally just before we both invaded Poland. We wanted our land back. What was your reason?

SMETINOV
No such pact between your despicable regime and ours ever existed, and it will not help your defense to tell such lies. Now, it would appear that thanks to your dedication, sincerity, and organizing ability you were able to move up into the top ranks of party leadership.

GUST
Yes, the party recognized my talent.

SMETINOV
You are unique among fanatical Nazis only in that you rose much higher than most. From its inception, the party was a band of thugs, misfits, and failures who used the party as an excuse to spew their hate. They gained power by intimidating opponents and playing upon people's fears and prejudices. The Nazi party served as a home for wayward bigots.

GUST
That's just one Communist's opinion.

SMETINOV
But how do you justify it?

GUST
My defense remains the same. We were right!

(blackout)


Scene 4

(MESSNER and GRANT in the interrogation room.)

MESSNER
Well Mr.Grant, the verdicts for the first trials were more interesting that expected.

GRANT
Oh?

MESSNER
Were you really expecting two acquittals?

GRANT
No. I'll admit I was surprised. The prosecutors who presented their cases were shocked.

MESSNER
They didn't know in advance?

GRANT
Believe it or not, these trials actually are fair. Even you have a chance of acquittal.

MESSNER
Come now Mr.Grant. I know better than that.

GRANT
What more proof do you want?

MESSNER
My own acquittal------though even then I would be skeptical.

GRANT
Then plead guilty and be sure.

MESSNER
I know you value the appearance of fairness. Perhaps you picked two at random to be released, just to make it look fair.

GRANT
You just don't grasp how our courts work. But I suppose now you have hope for acquittal yourself.

MESSNER
How can I not? And it's a very cruel thing to give faint hope. I'd almost rather know the verdict beforehand so I could just think about defending myself with some dignity.

GRANT
Then it may comfort you to know I'm as bothered about it as you are.

MESSNER
Naturally, you'd rather know the verdict ahead of time too.

GRANT
Don't twist my words. You know those men were guilty as sin.

MESSNER
Or else they would not have been arrested, right?

GRANT
An arrest is not evidence of guilt.

MESSNER
Right.

GRANT
Believe what you want. Let's get back to what we're here for.

MESSNER
I believe we were discussing the Albert Brandt case.

GRANT
Correct. He was convicted of illegal assembly. Were you unable to see that this man was being convicted of something that the civilized world does not consider a crime?

MESSNER
I was a judge, not some politician. I could not go and change the law as I saw fit. I had to apply the law as it then stood.

GRANT
What prevented you from ruling that such a law was a violation of the defendant's basic civil liberties?

MESSNER
Nazi law had no guarantee of civil liberties to be violated. May I point out that even American judges cannot throw out just any laws they choose.

GRANT
They can rule that a defendant's rights have been violated and that a law is a violation of the constitution.

MESSNER
Precisely. They do not rule that laws are wrong. They rule that laws violate the constitution, a superior law. In fact, your courts enforced enslavement of Negroes when the constitution permitted it.

GRANT
We are not here to discuss American law. You are accused of committing crimes against humanity, and specifically of using the law for the violation of basic human rights. Now let's look at this next affidavit. Andreas Altmann, convicted of anti-Nazi propaganda, homosexual activities, and sabotage. You heard his appeal on the grounds that the charges against him were trumped up and that his confession was given under duress. You upheld his conviction.

MESSNER
Why are you bothering with all these small cases instead of with my actions when I sat near the top of the judicial system? That is after all why I'm as prominent as I am.

GRANT
You are on trial for your actions during the whole Nazi era, not just on one particular court. Please explain why you upheld this conviction.

MESSNER
The trial court had decided the evidence was real and I saw no reason to doubt them.

GRANT
But the confession was forced from the man!

MESSNER
You have only his word for that. In any case, such a confession was acceptable at the time.

GRANT
You accepted the confession?

MESSNER
I did as the law required. The law did not require me to like the law, only to apply it, which was precisely what I did. I never let any personal feelings intervene in my decisions.

GRANT
So you just applied the existing law.

MESSNER
Yes.

GRANT
Did you approve of the Nazis?

MESSNER
How many times do I have to say I was in no position to approve or disapprove!?

GRANT
No position? You were a member of the party! What am I supposed to make of that?

MESSNER
Mr.Grant, I was a judge. Did I want to keep my position? Of course I joined the party. Everyone did who cared about preserving his career. And as a judge, I had a job to do, and I am no different in that than any judge in the allied nations. In fact, I am no different than anybody who does a sometimes unpleasant job. I did what I had to do.

GRANT
I see.

MESSNER
No you don't! Do you think any of your soldiers enjoyed killing Germans? Each of your soldiers did what they were told to do, no matter how disgusting it was. What would have happened to any of your airmen who were bombing civilians in our nearly defenseless cities, even when it was clear the war was about to end, if they had refused their orders? What would have happened to any Americans who had refused to firebomb Dresden? They would have been court-martialed, and they would not have been able to use the excuse that they didn't want to bomb women and children. Their convictions would have been legal under American law as it now stands. Their judges would be doing exactly what I had to do. I did my job, just like your bomber crews, and I doubt I'll ever see them on trial.

GRANT
It isn't American bomber crews who are on trial here, Herr Messner. It's you. You cannot defend your actions by saying someone else has done likewise. You must say you did not do that of which you are accused.

MESSNER
I would then be condemned for being a liar as well as a war criminal. If you're going to drop bombs, at least admit to it.

GRANT
Drop bombs?

MESSNER
Like on Dresden.

GRANT
Dresden isn't relevant.

MESSNER
Dresden is where my daughter died, working in a factory during the attack!

GRANT
I didn't know. I'm sorry.

MESSNER
She suffocated in the firestorm!

GRANT
I can sympathize.

MESSNER
Sympathy! From a smug country that was hardly scratched!

GRANT
I have a son who's MIA in North Africa.

MESSNER
Did he have any children?

GRANT
No.

MESSNER
I have a grandson to care for.

GRANT
You are blessed to have him.

MESSNER
(pause) I did what I was required to do. That is my defense.

GRANT
Perhaps you were required to do as you did, but the point is that you did it. There were those who refused to follow immoral orders and you could have done likewise. Then you would not be on trial here.

MESSNER
No, then I would be as dead as they are.

GRANT
I wish that hadn't been the position you were placed in. I hope I am never placed in that position. But I also hope that, if I am placed in that position, I would stand by my convictions.

MESSNER
And you would be convicted as I am.

GRANT
You're not convicted yet Herr Messner.

MESSNER
I should not be on trial! You cannot try us for actions taken as a part of war, nor for actions that were Germany's internal affair. You have no right to judge us!

GRANT
Yes we do! We have the same right to try you that any civilized society has to try the criminals in its midst. We cannot live in safety with our pockets being picked, our homes being broken into, or even, God help us, our lives being threatened. I will grant you that no society can send someone to heaven or hell, but we can stop the criminals among us from making everyone else's lives impossible. And now we're establishing that these laws apply among nations as well. Is it fair that the first people so judged be the Germans? I don't know, but I do know that all this has been brought about by the enormity of Nazi crimes. There is simply nothing else in history to compare with the scope of what you have done. There is simply nothing that compares with the numbers and deliberateness of Nazi war crimes. You and your colleagues have done these things behind a mask of national sovereignty. Well, such a mask can no longer hide such a monster.

MESSNER
I am one man. I insist that you try me only for what I myself have done. And I object to being called a monster. Such an epithet has no place here. Whether as a lawyer or a judge, I have always allowed defendants to keep their dignity!

GRANT
I withdraw the word "monster". (GRANT takes a moment to collect himself.) I do admire your dignity, and I have certainly noticed that you are a man of education, of wisdom....of conscience. And that is what makes you worse than your colleagues. Most of them have claimed, like you, to just be obeying orders, amongst other defenses. Some of them have let their hatred smother their conscience. Some have really believed the propaganda. Some were terrorized into obedience. Some have denied to the court, and even to themselves, that these things even happened. But you knew what the Nazis were. You knew Hitler was crazy. You were aware of the injustice, you knew the things you were doing were wrong, yet you did them anyway! That is what makes you so frightening.

MESSNER
No, that is what makes me typical. (Blackout.)


Scene 5


(The prison yard where MESSNER, FREITAG, GUST, and REIDL are gathered.)

REIDL
How much longer do we have to wait for our sentences?

FREITAG
How should any of us know? Quit your prattling, you're rattling all our nerves.

GUST
Why don't you just shoot yourself if you're so afraid of what's coming?

REIDL
You're the great martyr, why don't you shoot yourself!?

MESSNER
Shutup the lot of you, we're all going to be dead soon anyway!

(Lights come up on GRANT writing a memo.)

GRANT
To: Robert Jackson, Head Prosecutor, American prosecutorial team. Regarding: The continuance of trials following the withdrawal of the other major powers. Sir: It is regrettable the our allies have chosen not to continue the trials beyond the first, and admittedly most prominent, batch of defendants. We are made more aware of how much these trials were showtrials. Nevertheless, even if the world stops watching, we must bear in mind our true purpose here and bring some justice to this place. We must not permit politics to get in the way. I concur in the opinion that crimes like these should have no statute of limitations. The remaining defendants were prominent men in their own right, and these well-mannered thugs must not be released to the freedom they denied their victims.

MESSNER
I'm tired of being cold all the time.

GRANT
Some of them want to be martyrs. Some are just liars on top of everything else. And a variety of brutes.

GUST
How was your last visit with your wife?

MESSNER
It was hard to know what to talk about, especially since it may well have been the last. Have you been able to see your wife?

GUST
No. Bureaucratic problems. She hasn't been able to leave the British zone.

MESSNER
That's peculiar.

GUST
At least she knows I'll be a patriot.

FREITAG
I was informed last night that my mother just died.

REIDL
I'm sorry to hear that Otto.

FREITAG
Look at it this way. An old woman dies in her bed in peacetime. Life is back to normal. I just wish she had died before I became a criminal.

GRANT
Some actually moved up by doing nothing but following procedures, cogs in their own machine. They took no risks, showed no courage, and look where it got them.

REIDL
I haven't wanted my family to see me. I mean, I didn't want them to see me here.

MESSNER
We understand Dietrich.

GRANT
Dictators have a great need for the brutes, liars, and cogs, but of the current defendants, it is the former judge who scares and angers me the most. The only sentence for him should be death.

MESSNER
I don't want to die.

GRANT
He has to die.

MESSNER
It won't help anyone to kill me.

GRANT
Him more than anyone.

MESSNER
There will be enough executions without mine.

GRANT
After what he's done.

MESSNER
I didn't do anything so terrible.

GRANT
He debased our profession.

MESSNER
I did only what I had to do.

GRANT
A judge should be a bulwark against tyranny,...

MESSNER
What I was told to do.

GRANT
...but he used the law for unlawful purposes.

MESSNER
I only administered the law the way it was written.

GRANT
He used the law to enforce injustice.

MESSNER
I didn't write the law.

GRANT
The whole point of these trials was that there are laws that supersede governmental authority, and national sovereignty, and even long established precedent.

MESSNER
Who are you to judge me?!

GRANT
The Rule of Law must mean the law is a refuge for those in need of justice, not an instrument of oppression.

MESSNER
You could easily BE me!

REIDL
They're calling us in.

(GUST, REIDL, and FREITAG exit. GRANT checks his watch, puts away the letter and organizes his papers, getting ready to leave. He and MESSNER are alone on stage.)

MESSNER
Mr.Grant. (GRANT stops and listens.) I dearly hope you can live up to your ideals. (MESSNER watches GRANT exit. Blackout.)

Go back to plays.

For further reading, here's a source I wish I'd had when I first wrote this thing in pre-Internet days. Court TV: A Look Back at Nuremberg