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The Memory of Justice is a 1976 documentary film directed by Marcel Ophüls. It explores the subject of atrocities committed in wartime and features Joan Baez, Karl Dönitz, Hermann Göring, Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff, Yehudi Menuhin, Albert Speer and Telford Taylor.

The Memory of Justice
Directed byMarcel Ophüls
Produced byAna Carrigan
Hamilton Fish V
Max Palevsky
CinematographyMichael J. Davis
Edited byInge Behrens
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 4 October 1976 (1976-10-04)
Running time
278 minutes
West Germany
United Kingdom
United States

The film was inspired by Telford Taylor's book Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy, and Taylor is interviewed extensively during the film. But Ophüls takes the book as a starting point for exploring the possibility of people judging one another, especially in light of their behavior in other contexts, as well as dealing with individual versus collective responsibility.[1] The film discusses the notion that any group in power is capable of committing a war atrocity.

The film had a difficult genesis. It was originally financed in the summer of 1973 by BBC, Polytel, and a private company based in London, Visual Programme Systems (VPS), the latter of whom had wanted the film to dwell heavily on America's involvement in Vietnam and France's involvement in Algeria. After completing rough cuts, VPS was dismayed at Ophüls work (particularly his excessive leaning on the Nuremberg Trials and Nazi involvement) and tried to remove him as director.[2] Hamilton Fish V organized a group of investors who were able to buy back the rights to the film from VPS and allow Ophüls to complete it.[3]

The film was screened at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, but wasn't entered into the main competition.[4]

A restored version was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2015.[5] and at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2015.[6]


  1. ^ Vincent Canby, "Film Fete: The Memory of Justice", New York Times, 5 October 1976, p. 52.
  2. ^ David Denby, "The Sorry and the Pity of A Film About Nuremberg," New York Times, 27 April 1975, p. 111.
  3. ^ David Denby, "Two Suppressed Documentaries: A Happy Ending," New York Times, 12 October 1975, p. 177.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Memory of Justice". Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]

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