To the Editors:
The Furies, it would seem, sometimes cast a very dark and very long shadow, where bigots can hide their complacency.
Those who must, at all costs, enjoy their hatred undiluted often like to assume that they alone have “emotionally adequate” reasons for their moral outrage, that those who do not share the sweeping grandeur of their wrath have never really earned a Diploma in Suffering.
But since the solipsism of such an attitude, once exposed to the general public, can come to appear not only obnoxious but ridiculous, allies must be found forthwith. If possible, anonymous allies, and preferably dead ones.
And so the Marxist scholar calls on the solidarity of the proletariat, while the Jewish professor invokes the victims of the Holocaust. This leaves him alone with his righteous anger, and gives him and his friends exclusive rights to the territory. Best of all, he need not share his expertise in “emotional adequacy” with those who contradict his views.
The Memory of Justice contradicts the views of Harold Rosenberg. That is good news to me. Communication, these days, is tenuous. It reassures me to know that, in spite of the intellectual shortcomings of documentary filmmaking, in spite of the muddleheadedness of moviemakers, in spite of the trivialities of mere showmanship, I have put my message across. To provoke the anger of all the Harold Rosenbergs was one of my intentions.
To know one’s enemy is merely prudent. To choose one’s enemy can be fun!
Good night, Herr Reichskanzler! Sleep well…. A man with your awesome responsibilities must have trouble, every once in a while, to sink into restful slumber. Why don’t you try counting something? No, don’t count sheep, that would be beneath your dignity, Herr Reichskanzler. Why don’t you count, instead, the treaties you broke?…One…two…three…four…. Why don’t you count the countries you attacked? Five…six…seven…. The cities you destroyed? Ten…twenty…thirty…. The homes you burned, the families you wrecked, the men and women you tortured, the children you killed? Ten thousand…a hundred thousand…millions! Good night, Herr Reichskanzler…sleep tight!
Every night, during the “phony war,” in 1939-1940, at eleven o’clock, over the French shortwave radio, a voice used to whisper that lullaby in German, in a soft, tender baritone.
That voice belonged to Max Ophuls, the famous movie director. It was my father’s voice: Every weekend, my father, who served in the French army knowing full well that France would lose the war, would come up to Paris from his basic training camp near Clermont-Ferrand to deliver a message to the German people. My father’s voice was a courageous one.
One day the official speaker of the German Ministry for Propaganda replied in the name of the German people. Speaking into Dr. Goebbels’s microphone, not at all softly, he declared:
Jew Oppenheimer, we know who you are, and where you are. When our victorious armies will have conquered the country where you and your family are hiding, we will pick you up and then we will make you eat your words.
Only a few months later, the German army came within two miles of being able to carry out that particular threat. As a twelve-year-old child, I lived constantly and consciously in the shadow of that threat, in the shadow of the furies. I knew all about Dachau, and I knew what was happening to the Jews in Germany. Three of my uncles died in the camps, and my father’s favorite screen-writer and closest friend, Curt Alexandre, was deported to Auschwitz. Mrs. Alexandre, one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, who used to take me to the Bois and feed me ice cream at the Café des Cascades before the war, died in a Wehrmacht brothel, somewhere on the Eastern front. But the Jew Oppenheimer was able to save his family and himself by fleeing across the Spanish border and finding refuge in the United States, a few months before Pearl Harbor.
The name of the man who had made the threat was Hans Fritzsche. He was the official speaker of the Nazi government. He was also one of the defendants in the Nuremberg courtroom. And he was acquitted.
I think the judges of the International Tribunal did well to acquit Hans Fritzsche. Undoubtedly, he was a despicable man, and a fanatical Nazi. But, quite obviously, the tribunal felt that Hans Fritzsche had been arbitrarily selected for prosecution, as a sort of stand-in for Joseph Goebbels, because Goebbels had committed suicide and could not be brought to justice. According to the traditions of criminal law in civilized societies, you don’t hang people for being symbols, you don’t hang them for their words or their ideology, you don’t hang them for their intentions, or for their share in some abstract calculation of “collective guilt.” Above all, you don’t hang them whenever some fanatic bigot feels like it. You hang them if you can prove they have committed a capital crime, and you punish them for their deeds as individuals.
So I don’t need Mr. Rosenberg to tell me that Justice, as a Platonic Ideal, is unattainable. That doesn’t make me into a nihilist, and it doesn’t transform The Memory of Justice into some murky apologia for Nazi genocide. The connection established in the film between the crimes condemned at Nuremberg and subsequent atrocities committed in Vietnam, Stalinist terror, and torture in Algeria and in Chile is not to be found in some dimwitted analogies which Mr. Rosenberg attributes to the filmmaker. The connection has been established, unavoidably, by the Nuremberg principle itself, which the professor rejects, while in the very next breath accusing me of attempting to discredit the trials. This is pure sophistry of the most vicious and selfserving kind, and I refuse to stand still while some eminent but narrow-minded pundit denounces my work by sticking inaccurate labels on it. I will not let myself be banished into the seedy neighborhood of Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien or Lina Wertmüller’s Seven Beauties. I don’t recall, when I was a child in France, ever feeling the urge to dance in a hotel occupied by the Gestapo, like the Jewish girl in the Malle film, and I don’t believe in survival as an alternative value to a system of ethics.
Nor do I see the necessity of making a choice between Ideal Justice and arbitrary executions, as Harold Rosenberg does. Anglo-Saxon common law is good enough for me, at least until something better comes along. This is made abundantly clear in my picture. I am convinced, on balance, and on the basis of my research, that the Nuremberg trials were fair, enlightened, and humane. And this is made abundantly clear in my picture. I don’t believe, as Mr. Rosenberg does, that they were show trials in the Moscow manner, and I see no reason to doubt the testimony of Lord Shawcross in the film (who was the Labour government’s attorney general at the time of Potsdam), when he states that it was Stalin alone who advocated wholesale executions of the Nazi brass. One can understand Harold Rosenberg’s reluctance to find himself stranded in such disreputable company. Hence his disingenuous and tortuous attempts to bring Roosevelt and Churchill around to the Rosenberg solution.
But then, Professor Rosenberg does not hesitate to generalize about the “emotional inadequacy” of the Nuremberg prosecutors. He is a man who thinks boldly, and in broad strokes. The one Nuremberg prosecutor I have come to know well has never struck me as emotionally inadequate. Telford Taylor, during the past few years, has repeatedly journeyed to Soviet Russia, seeking to make use of his Nuremberg acquaintance with the chief prosecutor of the USSR in order to save Jewish dissidents from arbitrary arrest, from show trials in Russian courtrooms, and from internment in psychiatric hospitals. What has Harold Rosenberg done, lately, along such lines?
Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier, who testified in Nuremberg about what she had seen as an inmate at Auschwitz (Rosenberg calls her a mere “prisoner,” as if she had been interned in some stalag. Why? Because she isn’t Jewish?), is also a person I admire greatly. Harold Rosenberg manages to suggest that she, too, is emotionally inadequate, or that like the rest of us she is being soft on the Germans. To demonstrate this, he needs no further proof than her own account of the discovery, when she left the witness stand in Nuremberg, that the defendants in the dock suddenly looked like ordinary men to her. He forgets to mention that in the preceding sentence she calls them monsters, and that in the following one she compares them to an SS man she had known in Auschwitz, who fed barley sugar to a gypsy child whose parents he had gassed the day before. What does Mr. Rosenberg want the lady to remember? That the defendants looked like baboons? Why?
Yehudi Menuhin is another very brave person I met while making The Memory of Justice. I think Menuhin, like Ellsberg deciding to publish the Pentagon Papers, knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Germany in 1946 to play with Wilhelm Furtwängler. Alfred Kazin, in my presence, called Furtwängler a Nazi, and I guess he is right. My mother, a former actress, knew Furtwängler quite well before she ever met my father. Before the war, every time the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra came to Paris, which was once a year, my parents would visit the worldfamous conductor at his suite in the Chateau de Madrid, and he would never leave without taking with him a list of names of Jewish friends and other anti-Nazis to rescue out of Germany. Of Wilhelm Furtwängler it has been said, only half-jokingly, that he saved the lives of whole symphony orchestras. But Kazin and Rosenberg can never forgive Menuhin! Well, perhaps my parents and Yehudi Menuhin knew something more about that particular Nazi than Professor Rosenberg and Professor Kazin do. Perhaps my own knowledge of such details is more personal than Harold Rosenberg’s abstractions. Bruno Bettelheim once wrote a book about his experiences in Dachau. He called it The Informed Heart. What a beautiful title!
When Menuhin points out that his own family was not destroyed by the Nazi tyranny, I think he’s being scrupulous and modest. He wants to explain that he understands the feelings of those deportees who boycotted his concerts during his German tour. Those who fail to catch his meaning are those who decided thirty years ago what they thought of him, and still condemn him before he even opens his mouth. The same people often drive Volkswagens and go to Karajan concerts. If they are writers, they do not mind receiving royalties from the German translations of their work. As for Harold Rosenberg, he calls Yehudi Menuhin fatuous!
I don’t quite agree with John Simon’s assessment of Menuhin’s last statement in the film. It’s a little bit too Gandhiesque for my taste. But I know why the lone wolf of New York film critics admires it: Simon quotes Menuhin for the same reason Menuhin made the statement, I guess, and for the same reason I placed it toward the end of my film: to denounce the views of Harold Rosenberg. But the film doesn’t end there, and since Rosenberg thinks images are so much more powerful than words, perhaps he should have noticed that the film ends on the world-famous photograph of a child in the Warsaw ghetto, raising his hands in front of a German machine gun.
It’s true that The Memory of Justice tries to show that “Germans are just like other people.” But I don’t really care too much whether the film succeeds in doing that or not, because it’s only the kind of broad statement one makes at press conferences, and my films, I should hope, are more complex and more pluralistic than that. That is a quotation from a press release I wrote when the film was presented in Cannes, and the learned professor does me too much honor, really, by paying so much attention to the statement. However, the fact is that it so enrages him that he quotes it twice…both times inaccurately.
What I had written, as I recall, was: “But the Germans, unfortunately, are just like other people.” However inadequate documentary films may be in conveying abstract ideas, I am happy to report that they seldom give the film-maker such leeway in the distortion of someone else’s thought.
But of course, Professor Rosenberg is a scrupulous scholar. Before delivering himself of his diatribe, he has diligently read my interviews, and burned the mid-night oil studying my every public utterance. Reluctantly, he has come to the conclusion that my declarations of intention are in contraction with what he thinks he has seen and heard on the screen. From great heights of academic serenity, he is willing to give me the benefit of the doubt: “Since the fellow seems fairly decent and devoid of malice, let’s grant him some measure of talent and let’s recognize his good intentions. It’s just too bad, isn’t it, that this time around he bit off far more than he could chew, and promoted himself to the level of his own incompetence?”
Professor Rosenberg makes great efforts to teach his readers the difference, in emotional impact, between the written word, and what he thinks of, rather old-fashionedly, as the “visual” elements of film. He implies strongly that show biz types like me just aren’t equipped to handle such dynamite, because they aren’t really at home in the world of ideas. To reinforce his thesis, he calls on Gore Vidal, a very sharp and witty polemicist, for reinforcement. Mr. Vidal, in his recent attack on movie directors, wrote that “they spent too much time with cameras and machines,”—Ugh! How grubby!—“and seldom have much apprehension of the living world….” Rosenberg quotes a kindred spirit, who has the advantage of having gathered some field experience among the barbarians, and with obvious relish.
My own father, considered by many film buffs to be one of the greatest innovators in film technique, couldn’t even handle an old-fashioned Brownie camera to take snapshots of his family. But he did know Goethe’s plays by heart, and most of Schiller’s poems, and Rilke’s, and Hölderlin’s. (All German authors, admittedly!) As for me, I have the greatest difficulties finding the right button to push on the Kodak Instamatic. Mr. Vidal is wrong: What most competent moviemakers spend their lives with are not tools and machines, but ideas, some good, most of them bad, and people, some of them enjoyable, most of them obnoxious. Gore Vidal, it seems, like so many of his fellow ethnologues, did not, after all, venture very far up the course of the Amazon. Just far enough to carry back to Professor Rosenberg a general sense of another medium’s power, and fear of an alien form of competition. It seems I have invaded Harold Rosenberg’s territory not just in one, but in two very distinct areas.
Ophuls deals with the momentous issues of Nazi and German guilt within blinders he is not aware that he is wearing.” This is a flagrant case of the critic calling the author black. Harold Rosenberg’s own blinders lead him to celebrate the brutal memory of Mussolini’s corpse being hanged upside down by Italian partisans who apparently shared his enthusiasm for instant justice. He sees in this loathsome image a symbol of moral purification, by which the Italians allegedly cleansed themselves of guilt, thereby demonstrating that the Germans are not, for instance, like the Italians. He conveniently forgets that Mussolini, in Italy, is overtly a much more popular figure than Hitler in Germany, and that the Neo-Fascists are more numerous, more powerful, and far more fashionable than the Neo-Nazis. I can speak from personal experience: during the production of Memory, my producers asked me to interrupt filming for a couple of days, to fly down to Rome and help them sell the film to RAI (Italian TV). I was most courteously received by a program director of the national network, who had read a brief synopsis, and who informed me, in impeccable French, that he would be more than happy to recommend RAI’s participation in our enterprise. Provided, of course, I made quite sure the film did not criticize American policy in Vietnam, and provided, also, that the horrors of the Stalinist camps be fully equated with Auschwitz. “Pour établir la balance nécessaire, cher ami,” he said. “Vous me comprenez, n’est-ce pas?“
On the drive back to the airport, the co-producers’ representative in Rome flashed me his most charming Latin smile: “You must not take the Commendatore too seriously. Just do a little bit of what he asked. Unfortunately, he’s one of Almirante’s men among the policymakers at RAI, the representative of the neo-fascists on the board of directors. Oh well, that’s Italian politics for you.”
…So that noble and purifying gesture of hanging the Duce’s body upside down has not had, after all, the desired effect? What a shame for Harold Rosenberg, and what a shame for all the vigilantes and Dirty Harrys of this world.
Like so many professional pundits, accustomed to the classroom and the lecture hall, Professor Rosenberg is afraid that some C- or D+ students might be unable to grasp the more subtle aspects of intellectual discourse. This is a view of the general public some of us muddleheaded moviemakers do not choose to share, and, as a result, we seem to spend half our lives fighting cigar-chewing producers whose assessment of the public’s level of understanding proves remarkably close to the tenured professors’.
The cumulative effect of my own and the general public’s deficiencies make Harold Rosenberg fear that his C- and D+ students might not have understood that Grossadmiral Dönitz is an unrepentant Nazi. To hear him tell it, it would seem as if Ophuls, your friendly neighborhood interviewer, just leaned back behind his camera, and let the old admiral ramble on and on about his feelings of total innocence. Had Professor Rosenberg been my artistic consultant, no doubt he would have pleaded making use of the “visual power” of film by showing some footage of the Grossadmiral visiting a concentration camp. Not surprisingly, and to the best of my knowledge, no such footage exists.
But I have a confession to make: even if such footage had been found, I doubt very much that I would have followed the advice. When I ask Dönitz whether he sees any connection between the extermination camps and his own anti-Semitic speeches (oh, yes, I do ask such questions, although one would never suspect it from reading Rosenberg’s review), I much prefer watching the anger and contempt in the admiral’s eyes, the senile rage in the helpless trembling of his upper lip. I much prefer listening for the note of hysteria gradually creeping into his octogenarian soprano. This seems to me far more revealing, “audiovisually,” than archive material could possibly be. “Idle chatter,” indeed! “Gentlemen reminiscing reflectively in front of fireplaces,” my foot!
As for the Dönitz interview, Harold Rosenberg must know that the 0.1 percent of the general viewing public who might have seen The Memory of Justice must contradict his own account of it, and that the film, no matter what blinders its author might be wearing, is not a vehicle for letting old Nazis blow off steam. Who, then, is Mr. Rosenberg addressing? I’m afraid that he is addressing, quite deliberately and in full consciousness of the film’s high degree of vulnerability (great length and “downbeat” subject matter), the other 99.9 percent of the potential audience, in order to do his bit to discourage them from seeing it.
He has done that, I’m convinced, along with various other members of the Jewish establishment, out of anger and personal spite, because a film has dared to attack his own prejudice, and the very roots of his intellectual comfort. I have faced all sorts of censorship in my life, but this is my first experience with censorship by purposely inaccurate reviewing.
Professor Rosenberg obviously wants to hold on to the notion of the collective guilt of the German people, “that nation of collaborators.” It’s his security blanket. A lot of respected French professors I know of, and a few eminent Parisian critics I have met, also believe very much in the “collective guilt” of the American people, because of their alleged stubborn support of capitalist imperialism, the CIA, President Nixon, and Lieutenant Calley. I think those French professors are wrong, and I think Professor Rosenberg is wrong.
What I admire most about the Nuremberg principle is that it tried to introduce the notion of individual responsibility into world affairs, and present a practical alternative to the revenge of the clan and to racist bloodbaths.
A writer, no matter how eminent, who feels compelled to put quotation marks around the word atrocity in connection with the terror bombing of Dresden disqualifies himself from moral teaching. I don’t think I have anything to learn from such a man. Is it all right, then, to bury children alive under tons of rubble, if they are wearing blonde pigtails? To dehumanize the enemy is a tried-and-true technique of all self-righteous jingoists and superpatriots in history. After all, why waste any tears over those families brutalized in Vietnam? Aren’t they just a bunch of gooks? Of course, Harold Rosenberg would never adopt such lower-middle-class racist views: they are not fashionable at the University of Chicago.
My German wife and I have three daughters. Two of them are dark-haired, and probably look rather Jewish. I would be happy, if I could, to entrust their future to the enlightened humanism and the emotional adequacy of Professor Telford Taylor. He would do what he could, I feel sure, to prevent another Holocaust. Our youngest daughter, Jeanne, is blonde, blue-eyed, and I suppose she looks rather German. I would hate to make her future depend on the emotional adequacy of Harold Rosenberg, for fear she might be roasted alive in some future firestorm, because, as they say, “she had it coming.”
Princeton, New Jersey
A Telegraphic PS.
1. Back to Mussolini:
A. How about his mistress? Was hanging her corpse upside down also a purifying act? For whom? Troublesome “questions of identity” again!
B. Suggest immediate formation International Vigilante Committee, composed exclusively righteous and bloodthirsty intellectuals. Nominate Jean-Paul Sartre and Jean-Luc Godard cochairmanship. Purpose: to hang corpse ex-President Nixon by the feet, along with mistress, if there is one, for emotional gratification population Hanoi and purification American people.
C. While doing research Sorrow and Pity, stumbled across bulky correspondence file at Institut Zeitgeschichte, Munich. Italian admirals occupying French territories Savoy and Haute-Provence refused until bitter end to hand over Jews and other refugees Italian Zone to French authorities for deportation. Saved many Jewish lives. Historical fact. Know several personal cases of such. Admirals told French prefects where get off in most undiplomatic language. (Use of “Merda!” and Italian equivalent to “Fuck off!”) Should such Fascist hyenas have been hanged upside down, or right side up? Does Rosenberg’s vast knowledge of Italian culture lead to suppose admirals so heroic as to have acted without cover of Rome?
D. Mounting body of historical evidence indicates most Germanophile bigwig among Italians, not Duce, but Pope. Just think of mindboggling possibility and consequences of having hanged His Holiness by His Feet! Five hundred million Roman Catholics purified in one glorious swoop! Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition…
2. Have many disreputable personal friends in Germany:
A. Former ensign Kriegsmarine, twenty-three at time. Due to high casualty rate, became U-Boat commander at end of war. When told plans to interview Dönitz, spoke with quiet intensity: “Get that bastard!” (Am convinced I did!)
B. Son of former Generaldirektor Siemens. Upper-class family descended from famous nineteenth-century philosopher. Ex-member Hitler Youth. Once told me H.J. patrols unable venture forth Berlin certain working-class districts. Fear being massacred by communist youth gangs. Testimony borne out by documentation. Hitler youths beat up frequently while collecting for “Winterhilfe” by working-class teenagers. These later sent in special units to Eastern Front. Few come back. Died in action: Stalingrad!
C. One such working-class survivor from Berlin-Wedding. Later became favorite assistant Bert Brecht. Still stanch Socialist. Fled East Berlin after workers’ uprising in 1953. Became head of drama department TV in Hamburg. Showed Night and Fog repeatedly. Wrote/directed anti-Nazi plays. Hired me to Hamburg after my firing French TV following 1968 strike. That’s how Sorrow and Pity was made, in Hamburg. Tried to prevent Memory of Justice massacre by German TV bureaucrats on other channel. Could have been killed in Dresden. Am very glad he was not….
To the Editors:
I wish to call attention to an error of some consequence in Harold Rosenberg’s essay on Ophuls’s The Memory of Justice in your issue of January 20.
On page 48 Rosenberg cites Melville in The Confidence Man as describing “a type whom he calls the Indian killer.” Then Rosenberg goes on to tell of a person who is a peaceful citizen in a western town and who suddenly decides, “one midnight,” to “kill myself a few Indians.” Off he goes with his “musket,” as Rosenberg says, returns several days later with “a dozen scalps in his belt,” and resumes, for a while, one presumes, his peaceful and pacific existence, just as Germans, ordinarily peaceful, bourgeois, gentlemanly, periodically “dropped out,” so to speak, to perform unspeakable atrocities on Jews.
The trouble with this parallel is that at the Melville end it does not at all work. Four chapters of The Confidence Man, chapters 25-28, are devoted to the general subject of white men killing Indians, and vice versa, it should be added.
The individual involved in Melville’s discussion is not known as the “Indian killer” but as one of a type called the “Indian-hater.” The type, par excellence, was Colonel John Moredoch, a real person described by an historical account which Melville read and incorporated into The Confidence Man. Moredoch, so the story went, was the son of a woman married “thrice” and “thrice widowed by the tomahawk.” Left with nine children, so the story goes, she moved, with others, westward. While John Moredoch was separated from his mother and his eight siblings, she and they and their party were slaughtered by Indians, near the rock of the Grand Tower of the Mississippi. It was after this that Moredoch became a life-long “Indian hater,” and killer, though living a successful and peaceful life in “civilization.” Both Melville and his source, James Hall’s Sketches of History, Life and Manners in the West, make the point that such border vendettas, when one group or culture is impinging on or clashing with another and when personal revenge and the blood feud were often the only “law,” were fairly common in human history, as, for example, as Hall says, on the border between England and Scotland in times gone by.
This brief account of this part of The Confidence Man can scarcely begin to do justice to the ironic, ambiguous, complex discussion, all done with a kind of wild, grim, sardonic relish, concerning human nature and human behavior which Melville hangs onto these bloody and violent matters. There is in it nothing so simple as moving pictures, which is all that the cinema is and which Rosenberg describes as: “No other medium offers greater opportunities for shallow analogies and spurious certainties.” True.
In any event Moredoch bears little resemblance to those Jekyll-and-Hyde German burghers that Rosenberg describes; nor were the Indians like the Jews; nor was the American frontier in the nineteenth century like Germany in the twentieth; nor were the motivations of anyone in the one situation like those in the other, etc., etc., etc.
The itch to draw historical parallels is as old as the human mind, and usually becomes endemic in times of stress or crisis, as today. Usually too they do not work, that is, if examined closely enough; especially do they not work when the memory of the parallelist has been silently rewriting the past to fit the present, as in the present case.
John Henry Raleigh
Department of English
University of California
To the Editors:
Harold Rosenberg, in his review of Marcel Ophuls’s The Memory of Justice, refers to Les Misérables and to Jean Valjean’s rescue of the “blood-hound Inspector Jouvet” (sic) in a manner that is altogether misleading. Not only is the name of Javert consistently deformed, but the facts of the episode as well as Hugo’s meanings are totally misread. Harold Rosenberg writes: “To his credit, Hugo had the insight to recognize that Valjean’s act of generosity would rebound against himself and in no degree divert Jouvet from his hunter’s obsession.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that Javert ultimately does allow Valjean to escape: he does so because he is illumined by Valjean’s own act of mercy toward him, and is so surprised by his deviation from his Inspector’s duty that he commits suicide. Hugo could not be more explicit about the revelatory effect of Valjean’s act of generosity on Javert: “He was forced to recognize that goodness exists.”
Department of Comparative Literature
Princeton, New Jersey
Harold Rosenberg replies:
My “The Shadow of the Furies” dealt with some problems of justice in the law courts in cases of mass political crimes—specifically, it dealt with the Nuremberg Trials. The occasion for the discussion was Marcel Ophuls’s The Memory of Justice. My piece pointed to various assumptions made in that film (though by no means confined to it) that could be regarded as basic corruptions of thought common in the contemporary world.
For Mr. Ophuls, however, the discussion of values appears as simply an additional opportunity to talk about himself. He works up samples of his literary wit (apparently excluded by the medium of film documentary); reverts to his father, “Max Ophuls, the famous movie director”; evokes the perils to which he as a twelve-year-old was subjected in Nazi-occupied Europe, and the uncles and friends of the family who died in the camps. He introduces the public once again (not a single press release without her) to his Hitler-Youth wife and to his three daughters, two dark-haired and one blonde.
I suppose that through this biographical intimacy we are supposed to see things as Ophuls sees them—or absorb them through some common sense of smell. As for historical facts, they apparently carry no weight with Ophuls. For instance, in “The Shadow of the Furies” I cited Bradley Smith’s Reaching judgment at Nuremberg, published in 1977. Obviously, it was not available to Ophuls when he was making The Memory of Justice. According to Smith, Stalin was at one point the only Allied leader opposed (for his own reasons of course) to mass executions of top Nazis. An odd but interesting fact. Who knows what uses Stalin had in mind for these Nazis? This information brings the following from Ophuls: “I see no reason to doubt the testimony of Lord Shawcross in the film when he states that it was Stalin alone who advocated wholesale execution of the Nazi brass.”
In sum, regardless of any evidence Ophuls sees no reason for disagreeing with himself or with whatever has found its way into his product. He is an “Artist” in the most dismal sense of the word. And he raises the suspicion that the only thing revealed by the Documentary is the person who made it.
I am grateful to Professor John Henry Raleigh for restricting his account of Colonel John Moredoch to a single paragraph. It is obvious that he would have preferred to write a book on “border vendettas.” On the other hand I am not prepared to concede that any use of a literary metaphor (for example the “innocent” citizen as killer) requires departmental clearance.
March 17, 1977