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275 22 The SecondTrial Yet another jury court trial of Veit Harlan was to be held throughout April 1950 after the supreme court for the British zone reversed the first verdict following a December 12, 1949, appeal.1 Now the trial was no longer about the making of Jud Süss but exclusively about the character of its director, whichseemsoddbecauseinthefirsttrialHarlanhadbeenthesoleaccused. The second trial would take only one month, and once more the prosecutor was Dr. Kramer. Public interest was minimal by now. Seventy-year-old Dr. Leopold repeated his testimony in favor of Harlan, and reporters repeated their disapproval. Although it is undeniable that committed Nazi careerists would pull Jewish friends out of their hats after the war to defend themselves, the other side was equally unscrupulous when it came to the manipulation and instrumentalization of survivors. The second trial was memorable chiefly for one spectacular performance , not by an actress but by a journalist. During preproduction of Jud Süss, nineteen-year-old Karena Niehoff, now a journalist, had been scriptwriter Ludwig Metzger’s secretary. According to his wife, she was his lover, too, and godmother to his child. Niehoff vehemently denied these assertions until historian Friedrich Knilli produced evidence. Having already given testimony out of court during the first trial, she appeared personally in the witness stand on April 14, 1950, insisting that Harlan had intensified the anti-Semitism of Ludwig Metzger’s and Eberhard Wolfgang Möller’s original screenplay. When she was questioned about details, however, she admitted never having read Harlan’s revised screenplay. With her lively presence and stylish wardrobe, Niehoff delighted parts of the trial’s audience .Then,outsidethecourtroom,somebodyshouted“Judensau!”(Jewish sow) at her. The next day the newspapers wrote, “Nazi Demonstration in Favor of Harlan!” Hamburg’s mayor Max Brauer—a Social Democrat who had immigrated to China, sympathized with the Communist Party, and, veit harlan 276 disillusioned by the Stalinist purges during the Spanish Civil War, took up an invitation to the United States by the American Jewish Congress—felt obliged to explain this alleged scandal: The “anti-Semitic scandal during the Harlan trial” is the most successful , skillful special effect which the Communists have ever projected. . . . These events stand in relation with other provoking events that the Communist Party of Hamburg has arranged. People of Hamburg! Don’t allow yourselves to be misused by provocateurs because during the declarations on the corridor of the jury court, it was remarked that the witness Niehoff had insulted people with the bad word “Nazi pigs” before the equally regrettable word “Jewish sow” was uttered. This woman who said that word belongs—I’m expressing myself very cautiously—to an Eastern delegation.2 This comment was widely off the mark; Niehoff was too much of an individualist and cosmopolitan to follow the Communist Party line. Classified a “half-Jew” during the Third Reich, she later was put in a Soviet jail because she was thought to be a Western agent. Yet it is likely that Hamburg’s Communists tried to exploit Harlan’s acquittal and the insult against Niehoff. Harlan could hardly have an interest in her getting insulted as a Jew because he wanted to prove he was not an anti-Semite. Despite the hostile atmosphere, Harlan was acquitted a second time on April 29. Much has been made of Dr. Tyrolf having been a fierce Nazi judge who had sentenced sixteen-year-old Ukrainian slave laborers, among others, to death, but it is unlikely that Harlan had the power to choose his own judge, and even a man with Tyrolf’s past had to stick to non-Nazi laws by now. His closing remarks anything but friendly, he made it clear to Harlan that he considered him morally guilty after all and that Harlan had not done his best to avoid the Jud Süss assignment. What is most interesting about the trial is that the lawyers struggling with the case were trying to define some kind of auteur theory (that a film director is an artist not a craftsman), and it is difficult to blame their failure when even full-fledged film scholars would struggle with the subject. In mid-July 1950, the prosecution declined an appeal. Harlan, restless as ever, toured through several cities to speak before students at, among other institutions, Marburg University. Then he and The Second Trial 277 Kristina went to Italy. Film projects were discussed and rejected, including one involving Vittorio Gassman, who had recently...


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