“I’m sorry coach, but I can’t play this game.”

A star quarterback had pulled Coach Norbert Ehrenfreund aside just as the championship game was about to kick off.

It was autumn of 1945. The war in Europe and Japan was over, and U.S. soldiers were still stationed in Germany, waiting to acquire enough points to go home. The 71st Infantry Division commander organized a football league to keep troops occupied and had uniforms sent over from the United States. Winners would get a week’s leave and free trip to the French Riviera.

Nuremberg Stadium was the site for this championship game, now renamed Soldiers’ Field. This was the site of Hitler’s annual Nazi party rallies, where cheering masses saluted wildly during his bombastic speeches on the “master race.”

A gold-plated swastika adorned Zeppelinfield grandstand until the U.S. Army conquered Nuremberg in April, 1945.

Now in the U.S. zone of occupation, Soldiers’ Field hosted everything from the summer G.I. Olympics to baseball games, headline entertainment, and these army football games in the autumn of 1945.

Hitler arriving for the Nazi Reichsparteitag (Reich Party Day) ceremonies c. 1937 (left) and Jewish American entertainer Jack Benny performing for U.S. troops in the same venue, summer of 1945 (right).

“Why can’t you play, you injured?”

Norbert led the quarterback away from the line to speak privately. Everyone wanted to win that trip to the French Riviera, the stakes were high.

The quarterback hung his head. “There’s a guy out there on their team. He’s a (N-word). I can’t play with him.”

Norbert looked over the opposing team. Despite army segregation (until 1948), there was indeed a Black player on the opposing team.

“So what? What if he is?” The referee was getting impatient, signaling to hurry up.

Then it all came out. The quarterback came from a small town in Georgia. He fought in combat against the Nazis and distinguished himself as a good soldier, but he was a racist through and through. His parents had prohibited him from playing with Black people.

Norbert pleaded with him, “He is an American, just like all of us. He risked his life for our country. Think of the American flag, the American constitution, what do they stand for — a country that respects people of all colors and creeds! We fought this war so people could be free from prejudice, free from being despised and abused because of their race and religion. To refuse to play based on your own racial prejudice, would be to say that it didn’t mean anything that Americans who died here died for nothing.”

Norbert pointed to the huge platform at the top of the stands.

“That’s where Hitler stood when he made his speeches spouting Nazi propaganda of racial hatred.  If you refuse to play in this game based on racial prejudice, it would be like saying he was right, and all those Nazis were right and his spirit would be up there, smiling and cheering your decision.”

Norbert recalled, “I can’t remember all I said at times, I got out of control and was perhaps too emotional, but I know it was a good speech. Maybe the best speech I ever made because I was speaking from the heart.”

Gradually, the quarterback began to listen earnestly, he was softening.

“If I play, will you promise me you will never let this get out to my hometown or my parents?” Norbert then asked what would happen if it did get out.

“My dad would beat me. He would beat me real bad.“

Program booklets from U.S. Army football games in Nuremberg, 1945.

The game went on, but the 71st Infantry Division did not win and go to the Riviera. They lost 20-14. Turns out, that Black quarterback was a star.

Across town the Nuremberg trial, which would show the world the terrible consequences of racial prejudice, was just about to start. Norbert Ehrenfreund was discharged to begin his civilian job as a cub reporter for The Stars and Stripes, an Army newspaper. His assignment: covering the trial.

Norbert Ehrenfreund, back to camera, at work in “the slot” at The Stars and Stripes news desk in 1948, Pfingstadt, Germany. He served as both reporter and copy editor for the American newspaper during the Nuremberg trials. Photo from The Nuremberg Legacy (Palgrave Macmillan, ©2007).

Twelve years earlier in a small German town, eleven-year-old Gustave Schwenke was in his father’s tailor workshop doing homework.

It was 1923, five years after the end of WWI, and Germany could no longer make reparation payments from having started the war. Hyper-inflation had brought on political instability, just as Adolf Hitler was just beginning to rise in power.

A customer came to call for a suit which had been ordered eight days before for 8,000 Reichmarks. Now just eight days later, with hyper-inflation at a peak, 8,000 Reichmarks would buy only one pound of butter. When Gustav asked what caused the inflation his father said, “the Jews,” so Gustav hated the Jews, even though he didn’t know any.

Germany, 1923: banknotes had lost so much value that they were used as wallpaper. Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-00104 / Pahl, Georg / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Unemployed at twenty, Gustav became a Nazi and joined Hitler’s SA police force, the paramilitary group responsible for burning down synagogues, smashing and looting Jewish stores, and violence toward the Jews throughout Germany, in November, 1938. 

Gustav’s father, whose tailor business had collapsed, got him the job. He was also in the SA.

Both Gustav and the quarterback in that division championship game had learned about racism at home. They adopted their fathers’ prejudices, as many young people do.

SA policemen break Jewish store windows on Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” November 8-9, 1938. Photo from Yad Vashem.

My first exposure to racial integration came in seventh grade. After six years of uniforms and Catholicism, I begged my parents to let me go to public school. At 12 years old, I knew there was more beyond this small school and parish community that I wanted to be a part of.

The campaign began at our nightly dinner table. I argued that I could learn to play the guitar and be in theater productions, or any number of extracurricular activities not offered in our Catholic school. Eventually, I won my case.

What came next was eye opening: race riots—in Boca Raton, Florida. By the mid-1970s, tensions escalated with a federal busing mandate. Black students from the neighboring town of Delray Beach were bused in. And they were not happy about it. These kids had to get up an hour earlier and take a much longer ride to and from school every day, for starters. And they were from a relatively poor community.

On the day this 1975 riot occurred, Black kids in the high school arrived to racial slurs painted on gymnasium walls. Violence and fear spilled over to the middle school where I was in 7th grade. Everyone was sent home early.

That year, my mother had volunteered in the school clinic. She told me some of the Black kids who were sick, came to school without breakfast and couldn’t be picked up to go home because their mother had to work. My mom felt sorry for them. By recounting her experience, she helped me start to see just how fortunate I was. This was my first real understanding of white privilege. My mom asked how I would feel if it was me in those shoes.

The world needs more people like Norbert Erhrenfreund—and like my mother.

Norbert Ehrenfreund was a witness to the Holocaust in the 71st Infantry Division, coached their football team after the war, then had a front row seat at the Nuremberg Trials as cub reporter for the U.S. Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes.

He was so taken with the rule of law at Nuremberg that upon returning home, changed careers and went to law school. Drawing on his legal background as a San Diego Superior Court judge for more than 30 years, Ehrenfreund reveals how the precedents set at Nuremberg continue to affect human rights, race relations, medical practice, big business, and modern war crimes trials. The Nuremberg Legacy (Palgrave Macmillan, ©2007).

Gustav Schwenke’s family story is recounted in American journalist Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945,” (The University of Chicago Press, ©1955).

Seven years after the end of World War II, Mayer spent a year in Germany getting to know and interviewing ten ordinary citizens about their views of Nazism in its aftermath.

Nine of these men, Mayer wrote, “did not know before 1933 that Nazism was evil. And they do not know it now.”

“As an American, I was repelled by the rise of National Socialism in Germany. As an American of German descent, I was ashamed. As a Jew, I was stricken. As a newspaperman, I was fascinated.”

In the 1966 reprint of his book, Mayer wrote, “Nazism was finished in the bunker in Berlin and its death warrant signed on the bench at Nuremberg. It had gone out with a bang. Hitler attacked the civilized world, and the civilized world had destroyed him.”

But today, Nazism is not dead. Camp Auschwitz t-shirts can be seen in airports. Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups spread hate and antisemitic slurs in efforts to attract attention—and followers.

Education is the only way to fight back. With the continuing rise of antisemitism and conspiracy theories that glorify Hitler and Nazism, teachers and young people need trusted resources that allow them to see how the past impacts the present day. This is where Courtroom 600 excels.

Learn more about our approach.

Support our work.

Contact us to get involved.

Author Laurie Pasler on the cover of the Boca Raton News c. 1980 with Cowboy Bert, who scrubbed racial slurs from Boca Raton High School walls before sunrise, so students wouldn’t see them.


After four days of fighting near the end of WWII in Europe, on April 20, 1945, Nuremberg fell to the U.S. Army. It was Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

Nuremberg was the Nazis “shrine city,” home to annual Party Rallies in a huge stadium where Hitler announced to cheering masses that Germany would be the rulers of tomorrow’s world.

The stadium’s giant gold-plated swastika was ceremoniously detonated, a Newsreel commentator adding, “The fires of war have purged Germany of Nazi power. Let’s be sure it never again rises from her ashes.”

Nuremberg was also the site from which the Nazi Race Laws were decreed, marking the beginning of the Holocaust. And so, it was befitting that this city would host the world’s first international trial of the Nazi Major War Criminals, the International Military Tribunal or IMT, between 1945-46.

The IMT began as a war crimes trial and then moved on to codify the laws of war and responsibilities of governments to fight wars morally and ethically. The IMT stood as a guidepost in the new world order for more than 75 years but is now under attack.

With the increasing spread of conspiracy theories that glorify Hitler and Nazi Germany on the internet and beyond, young people and teachers need trusted resources that show them the consequences of Nazism as a means of keeping it from repeating.

Courtroom 600 wants students to “Know the Past. Protect the Future.” Because the past is not gone: the past is the present. Putin’s unlawful war of aggression has catapulted two Nuremberg indictments into the daily news: “War Crimes” and “Crimes against Humanity.”

Young people today are seeing these terms but don’t understand their origins, or what they mean.

Courtroom 600 teaches students how the victorious Allies sought justice through due process, for men despised as the worst criminals in history. By focusing on the search for justice and accountability, we’ll show students that there was a high price to pay for following an evil ideology.

Why does the world fail to stop genocide? Who is responsible for stopping war crimes, and how should they be prosecuted?

Educators need resources that make defining events of the Twentieth Century applicable to today’s world.

It’s essential that we bring these trials into classrooms, now. The challenge is, today’s educators don’t have the knowledge to teach Nuremberg. 

Courtroom 600 uses the four indictments at Nuremberg to teach causes and effects of WWII and the Holocaust, in a media-rich learning experience designed to capture the imagination and interest of today’s youth.

“The Four Indictments Modules” are short, story-driven podcasts that inspire students to question and learn how the past is connected to the present day. Companion photo galleries empower viewers to analyze primary source documents, exclusive artifacts and photos.


The victorious Allies at Nuremberg gave a clear and concise explanation for why the war happened, who was responsible, and who would be held accountable.

Prosecutors charged that Nazi Germany was not a real government but a criminal state intent on making aggressive war to steal other peoples’ lands, enslave and murder them. Three other indictments follow from the first.

In addition to education modules for high schools and global citizens, Courtroom 600’s “Behind the Scenes” virtual museum will preserve the legacy and stories of Nuremberg for generations to come. This 300-image pilot site was developed to honor my father’s service at the IMT.

After losing him in 2015, I inherited his smuggled army documents and memorabilia which no one in the family had seen. My dad never shared his story, but I’ve got it now— along with so many more Nuremberg stories which are fascinating.

Chief Prosecutor Telford Taylor wrote in his memoirs, “Except for the people themselves, the United States Army made the Nuremberg war crimes community. It was the army that proposed Nuremberg as the site of the trial…brought the defendants and witnesses, guarded and safeguarded them…and took care of all necessary logistics of running the trial, feeding, housing and transporting more than 1,000 people in the shattered city of Nuremberg…It was a magnificent feat of construction and management under pressure.”

Guards at Nuremberg had come off the battlefield. Some were given jobs they never trained for, like making copies on a mimeograph machine. They saw firsthand the evidence being presented in court. Many wrote about how the cold hard truth literally changed their lives.

In 1942 Frank Capra produced a series of war films called “Why We Fight” to make sure every soldier knew the causes of WWII. Americans thought the war was an ocean away, so why should we send our boys over there?  That question is being asked by many in America today.

We answer that question through the power of story, and we will teach next generations to protect democracy and peace.

This is why we fight.


View Recording of our November, 2020 live event. Take a virtual trip to France in World War II, where the Nazis stole 87 million bottles of Champagne and 1.17 billion bottles of wine.

Award-winning authors Don and Petie Kladstrup tell us how vintners secretly yet boldly planned their defiance to the Nazis, sharing stories from their global best-seller, Wine & War.

Taste French wines with Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman and discover unique food pairings, all to benefit the Courtroom 600 Education Project. We’re teaching the lessons of the Nuremberg trials through free podcasts for high school social studies classes.

• Descendants Media Founder Laurie Pasler shares her personal story for developing Courtroom 600
• Courtroom 600 Education Advisor David Fript explains the vital need for teaching resources
• Napa Valley Chef Brendan Byer makes festive appetizers to complement wines from Champagne, Burgundy, and Bordeaux
• Sima Dahl, global business speaker, branding expert, author and coach – is our emcee

• Champagne: Laurent-Perrier
• Joseph Drouhin
• Barton & Guestier

Download Food Pairing Recipes


Taste history in a new way.

Support our mission of educating youth about justice and human rights.

November 19th 7:30p CT | 8:30p ET | 5:30p PT



Time is the most precious commodity a teacher has. Watch our recorded webinar to learn how you can use the Nuremberg trials as a framework to teach 20th century history more efficiently and maximize your classroom hours.

During this webinar, we introduced the Courtroom 600 Education Project, shared work in progress, and asked national history teachers for feedback to help us strengthen our vision.

Courtroom 600 will be a Nuremberg trials learning resource/virtual museum for teachers, students, & history enthusiasts. In it, teachers will be able to find:

  • Podcasts for both students and teachers
  • Primary source photo galleries
  • Resource Links
  • Downloadable teacher resources

Created for teachers in partnership with a veteran history teacher, Courtroom 600 will use primary source documents, photographs, and storytelling to teach Nuremberg in flexible lessons that engage both audio and visual learners.

Our special guest was Jen Reidel, a passionate Civics and Social Studies teacher at Options High School in Bellingham, Washington. She is a James Madison Fellow (WA 02’), American Civic Educator awardee (2014), and served as the 2019-2020 Civics Teacher in Residence at the Library of Congress.

Courtroom 600 will connect World War II with the Holocaust through the story of Nuremberg.

Crimes Against Humanity, Indictment #4 (Demo Teacher Podcast)

The Nazis murdered millions of innocent men, women, children — even infants. What could make ordinary people participate in, or even just tolerate, such evil?

It’s impossible to grasp why people committed such acts of extraordinary evil without understanding both the ideology of antisemitism and how it functioned in Nazism. The Streicher Case as part of Module 4, provides a way to understand both—and can give students a broader context to understand the Holocaust.

Module 4: Crimes Against Humanity is timely not only because of the re-emergence of antisemitism, but also because it raises questions about political correctness, the concept of hate speech, and the limits of freedom of speech and press.

Courtroom 600 Education Advisor Dave Fript wrote and recorded this demo teacher podcast. A Teaching Fellow of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dave taught “The Nazi Mind” class for over 35 years in a Chicago high school. Read his blog post about why Nuremberg needs to be taught now.

This podcast  is 16 minutes long, a full-length version for teachers (and general audiences), will be 50 minutes. Student podcasts will be bite-sized at 10 minutes.

Photo galleries, teacher guides, and curated resource links will accompany all Courtroom 600 Podcast Modules.