The documentary “Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today” is a historical artifact with its own torturous past, quite apart from the momentous events chronicled within its frames. Commissioned as an official U.S. government record of the trial in 1945-46, when 21 high-ranking members of the Third Reich were prosecuted for war crimes at an International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, the 78-minute film by Stuart Schulberg was completed in April 1948.
By then, though, fears of a new war, this one with the Soviet Union, led the government to shelve the project. Over the years, attempts to revive it went nowhere. The negative mysteriously vanished. Without the efforts of Sandra Schulberg, who has supervised the reconstruction of her father’s labors by relying on a German print of the original, it might never have been seen again. Not until this September, when it premiered at the New York Film Festival, did the documentary receive a public screening in this country. (The film just concluded a limited-engagement run here at the Film Forum, and will be screened Friday in New York and Washington, D.C., before traveling to venues across the U.S.)