Thursday 3rd October 2019 - 7:45 pm - 9:45 pm, Palmer Building
1st July 1990, an 83 year-old man is arrested for war crimes. Twenty-one years earlier Arthur Rudolph had been the much-honoured linchpin of the first moon landing. This gripping feature documentary tells the story of the only former Nazi to be stripped of his American citizenship and deported. A must for any fans of space and mans continuing mission to understand the moon.
We are delight to announce that the producer, Nick Snow, will be joining us for a Q&A after the film. Nick is an award-winning business journalist. His publishing companies have produced some of the most influential titles for the international television industry including Advanced Television, Euromedia and TBI Television Business International. In 2009 Nick wrote The Rocket’s Trail, an historical thriller based on the immigration in 1945 by the US military of Nazi engineers for the Cold War missile programme.
Ireland 2019 – documentary directed by Johnny Gogan with Matt Addis, Cathy Belton, Alan Devine – 75 mins
This considered documentary blends archive, original interviews and reconstruction to track down an ugly, sticky thread from the great tapestry of self-congratulation that is forming around the 50-year anniversary of the first moon landing – THE GUARDIAN
Interview with Nick Snow
Tell us about the background of the project.
As a writer I covered several commercial rocket launches in the 1980s and 90s and background research lead me to the story of Wernher Von Braun and his fellow Germans scientists who were taken to the US for Cold War missile development and ended up at NASA. As it happened my grandfather was involved in the British intellectual reparations mission at the end of the war, and this coincidence led to the idea for The Rocket’s Trail, an historical thriller which was published in 2009.
What drew you to tell the story of Arthur Rudolph.
From the book I knew about the 1990 Immigration Tribunal of Arthur Rudolph in Toronto, when he tried to re-enter the US having been the only US citizen ever to be deported for war crimes in 1984. Around 2014 I managed to get hold of the transcript from the Canadian authorities and used it to craft a courtroom drama.
Why did you choose to fuse documentary with dramatic narrative in this way?
The tribunal was the only public airing of the accusations around the Nazi engineers brought to America by the US military, specifically their use and mistreatment of slave labourers in the construction of the V2 missile. Weaving the courtroom drama – which ebbs and flows between ‘prosecution and defence’ – with archive material and expert interviews seemed an effective way to both to tell this little known story and also encourage audiences the see it from more than one point of view.
What do you want the legacy of Prisoners Of The Moon to be?
Eli Rosenbaum – now the Chief War Crimes Prosecutor of the US – was an intern at the Department of Justice when he first picked up the trail of Rudolph’s Nazi past and in the film he talks at length about his personal role in the story for the first time. He says: “This is an important case. Anyone who thinks that this is just buried in the past, never to be repeated, is just not paying attention.” Which is another way of saying ‘be warned, past is prologue’. I think there’s also ‘a warning from history’ here that taking the attitude ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ leads to an institutional cynicism that can corrupt a society’s moral compass. As Jean Michel reflects on the cover up of slave
labour’s role in the V2s and, by extension, the Apollo programme: “in the icy domain of state reasoning, anything, absolutely anything is possible.”