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February 3: None Shall Escape

February 3, 2016

None_Shall_Escape_1944_US_posterNone Shall Escape, a film that anticipated the post-war Nuremberg War Crimes trials, was released on this date in 1944. The film portrayed a Nazi officer on trial for his misdeeds and confronted by several witnesses, each of whom triggers a flashback scene. One shows the deportation of the Jews and other minority groups who are being stuffed into trains. A rabbi urges them to rebel, but as soon as their resistance begins, they are mowed down by machine guns while the rabbi is shot dead by the Nazi. Lester Cole, who would be prosecuted under McCarthyism as one of the Hollywood Ten, was the screenwriter; Samuel Bischoff, Columbia Pictures’ in-house producer, conceived of the film after hearing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaking about war crimes and post-war accountability.

“When victory has been achieved, it is the purpose of the Government of the United States, as I know it is the purpose of each of the United Nations, to make appropriate use of the information and evidence in respect to these barbaric crimes of the invaders, in Europe and in Asia. It seems only fair that they should have this warning that the time will come when they shall have to stand in courts of law in the very countries which they are now oppressing and answer for their acts.” —FDR