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Verdict on Auschwitz (1993)

Edgar M. Boehlke , Herman Langbein , Rolf Bickel , Dietrich Wagner  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Edgar M. Boehlke, Herman Langbein, Joachim Kugler, Dr. Fritz Baueur
  • Directors: Rolf Bickel, Dietrich Wagner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • DVD Release Date: April 17, 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,315 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Director’s Bios

Editorial Reviews


The recent conference, of Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, and other fools has made the truth necessary once again. VERDICT provides not only substantial pieces of testimony from survivors but an extraordinary variety of documentary evidence. --The New Yorker

A powerful condemnation of evil, and a chilling reminder of how seemingly civilized societies can lapse into madness. --Film Threat

As both historical document and human document, this epic is infinitely valuable. Grade: A --Christian Science Monitor

Product Description

On August 20, 1965, after 20 months of proceedings, the verdict was pronounced in one of the most significant trials in German legal history. The court heard 360 Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp survivors and other witnesses from 19 countries, in a trial against 22 members of the SS, accused of taking part in the mass murder of millions.

VERDICT ON AUSCHWITZ: THE FRANKFURT AUSCHWITZ TRIAL 1963-1965 (produced by Hessischer Rundfunk, a German public television station) is a documentary of immense importance that illuminates not only the horrors of Auschwitz, but the chilling atmosphere of the courtroom in Frankfurt, Germany, almost twenty years after the Holocaust. Assembled from 430 hours of original audiotapes that languished in obscurity for decades, this film brings to life the voices of Auschwitz survivors, who confronted perpetrators they had not seen for twenty years-- many of whom had made comfortable lives for themselves in postwar West Germany.

VERDICT ON AUSCHWITZ addresses one of the most profound questions of justice in modern history. The trial raised myriad questions that have yet to be fully answered, as it is still comparatively under-researched. The film is thus not only of historical importance-- a chapter in the history of the Holocaust and in Germans' coming to terms with this legacy-- but it can also lead new audiences to consider the process of reckoning since 1945 in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nazis on trial April 25, 2007
From 1963 to 1965, twenty-two men, all former members of Hitler's SS who had served as officials at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II, were rounded up and put on trial in Frankfurt, Germany, for so-called "crimes against humanity" - a euphemistic phrase that is all too feeble in describing the unspeakable atrocities these incarnations of evil perpetrated on their fellow human beings. The documentary "Verdict on Auschwitz," made for German television in 1993 but not released theatrically in the United States until early 2007, provides a gripping, soul-searing account of that trial.

The 175-minute movie is divided into three sections that run roughly an hour apiece and cover slightly different aspects of the trial. The first, entitled "The Investigation," focuses on the German government's efforts in the late 1950's and early 1960's at tracking down many of the key Nazi leaders who had either fled the country (many to South America) or were living prosperous and quiet lives under assumed names in the very same country where they had perpetrated their crimes. Part I also details the early stages of the trial which included taped testimonies from a number of the survivors (over 350 in total), as well as from "outsiders" who visited the camp on "official" business. Because cameras were not allowed in the courtroom after the first fifteen minutes of the trial, these audio tapes, in many cases, have become our sole connection with the participants in the drama. These voices, echoing down the corridors of time, provide a chilling first hand account of the atrocities.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Frankfurt-Auschwitz Trial 1963-65 February 25, 2008
This is the only documentary produced on the Auschwitz trial and is unparalleled in its coverage of the trials of 22 former members of the SS charged with crimes against humanity. The Auschwitz trail first took place after the Adolf Eichmann trial that was held in Jerusalem. It was held in Frankfurt, Germany and 360 witnesses from 19 countries, including 211 Auschwitz survivors gave their testimonies [other witnesses included Social Democrats from germany who had also been imprisoned in camps during the war and had witnessed Nazi atrocities and others].

This is a compelling documentary in that it truly captures the horror that was Auschwitz. We get to listen to the searing and horrific testimonies by victims of Nazi atrocities, the cold testimonies by the defendants [most claimed to be innocent and only carrying out their duty to the Reich, and perhaps only one actually broke down whilst giving his testimony]. It gives us a look at the exhaustive process the German prosecutors had to go through to bring these criminals to court and really provides insight into the cool, mechanical manner in which mass murder was perpetrated against millions of innocents.

Through the victims' testimonies and the cold testimonies of the perpetrators, viewers get a picture of the killing center that was Auschwitz-Birkenau. Interspersed with the accounts are archival footage of Nazi rallies, photographs of deportations and transports, and reconstruction of the death camp itself. It is a truly chilling look at the mechanism of mass murder put into action.

The final verdict was pronounced on August 20, 1965, after almost 20 months of court proceedings. But, as to whether true justice was served to the 6 million Jews and 5 million other victims of Nazi atrocities, that remains debatable.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A piece of history, stories that sadden ... April 22, 2007
Verdict on Auschwitz is a harrowing three-hour ordeal of history and personal recorded testimony, and a filmed record of the infamous Nazi excuse: I was just following orders. Rolf Bickel and Dietrich Wagner almost do too good a job, chronicling so many stories, so many details, and so much anguished testimony that the entirety is almost unbearable for a single viewing. This is a tale of men who committed monstrous crimes and a troubled German society that finds itself revisiting a dark past through the Frankfurt trials, lasting almost three years.
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