NUREMBERG, Nov. 29, 1945 (UP) - A tense audience at the war crimes trial watched for 52 horror-packed minutes today a 6,000-foot American Army film baring conditions at Nazi concentration camps. The prosecution charged that the camps were an instrument of policy of German leaders, including the 20 men on trial in the courtroom, in their drive for power.
In an almost deathlike silence the defendants, silhouetted in the dark courtroom by fluorescent lamps so that their guards could watch them, stared fascinated, bowed their heads low or mopped their faces as the show proceeded.
One, Hjalmar Schacht, kept his back turned throughout. Another, Polish Overlord Hans Frank, one of the most infamous mass murderers in world history, got sick.
American Sidney S. Alderman had closed the case on the German seizure of Austria, denouncing Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering, Austrian traitor Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Baron Franz von Papen and former Foreign Minister Baron Constantin von Neurath as the arch-plotters - "sly bullies wearing sanctimonious masks to cover their duplicity."
High spots included a telephone talk in which Goering dictated to Seyss-Inquart a request which Seyss-Inquart was to make that German troops be sent into Austria; a telephone talk in which Adolf Hitler said he would "never, never forget" Benito Mussolini for co-operating and a 41-minute call by Goering to former Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, then Ambassador in London, describing how "the birds are twittering here" in Berchtesgaden the day after the German invasion.
Court recessed at 3:15 so the movie screen could be made ready. At 3:35 the lights suddenly went out. At the same instant lights set around the prisoners' dock rail flashed on to light the defendants. Reinforcements of American M.P.'s filed silently into the room to join the white-helmeted guards around the dock.
American Prosecutor Thomas Dodd rose.
"We will now show what concentration camps mean," he said. "... the camps were not an end in themselves but an integral part of the Nazi system of government. We intend to prove that each defendant knew of the camps and that the camps were instruments by which the defendants retained power. They used the camps to prepare aggressive war."
At 3:50 the film started grinding. The 6,000 feet shown were selected from 80,000 feet.
First came Leipzig - shots of bodies, burned to a crisp, of men and women who had tried to flee barracks the Nazis set afire and were mowed down by machine-gun fire.
Goering leaned forward in his seat, staring. Rudolf Hess snapped upright, betraying intelligent interest for the first time since the trial started, and whispered to Goering on his right and Ribbentrop on his left.
The camera eye moved slowly over the heaps of burned bodies. War correspondents had seen them before they were piled up - fingers dug into the earth in agony.
Col. Gen. Alfred Jodi put on dark glasses. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel bent stiffly forward.
The film flashed to Hamadar, which the Germans called the shudder house.
Papen lowered his head and covered his face with a handkerchief.
The film went on to Northausen, which the American 3rd Armored and 104th Infantry divisions liberated. It showed 2,500 bodies stacked beside a bombed building.
Schacht, his owl-like glasses reflecting the light in the prisoners' dock, remained rigidly facing the audience, turned away from the screen.
German civilians, carrying bodies to mass graves under the guns of American troops, passed on the screen.
Grand-Adm. Karl Doenitz leaned heavily over the side of the dock as if he had taken all he could. Keitel took off his glasses, mopped his sweating face and lowered his head.
Next came Buchenwald, one of the worst of all. The film showed German civilians marching past a display of lamp shades, picture frames, plaques and bookmarks made of the skin of murdered men. The wife of the S.S. camp commandant had selected the victims.
Hess still watched, intensified. Julius Streicher stared with a deadpan face. Ribbentrop still had his eyes to the floor.
Then came Mauthausen, notorious Dachau, one of the earliest, greatest and most dreadful, and Belsen, where bodies were piled so high British bulldozers had to push them into mass graves.
The film ended and the lights went on. For long moments the entire audience sat as if transfixed. Goering did not move his eyes from the screen until court adjourned one minute later. Schacht stood up and his lawyer said that he had nothing to do with the camps - in fact, would tell the court that he spent seven months at Dachau himself.