Functional Order: Si-Te-Fi-Ne
Ernst is a respected judge who spent most of his time and efforts before Hitler’s rise to power establishing laws, writing legal textbooks others across the world use, and writing up constitutions respected for their detailed explanations and clear processes. He was “dedicated to the cause of justice” and spent his entire career attempting to uphold it. He confesses that he was suckered into Nazism, thinking it would do some good in the world, but he was mistaken; he misjudged it, when one day he woke up to discover himself in the bowls of a massive, evil machine – that this was not just a “passing phase” in German history, but its defining moment. He says they knew bad things were happening, but not their extent, but that doesn’t excuse their actions. Ernst speaks up to defend himself, his attorney, and their actions not with excuses, but the explanation that a love of their country, a desire to come out of poverty, and a wish to feel proud of Germany once again motivated their decisions. He bucks his attorney’s demands they focus on the future, and instead allows himself to be punished for the past. He shows an immense amount of Fi, remaining silent in the courtroom until pushed too far by the suffering of a woman, asserting how different he is from his companions (“I am nothing like you,” he retorts against an unapologetic co-defendant), and feeling enormous remorse for his participation in such crimes, especially after he sees videos of the concentration camps. That changes his mind and makes him determined to speak up and take his punishment, even if it makes him unpopular with his co-defendants
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Ernst sits through his trial, unwilling to speak up, defend himself, or talk to anyone, lost in a mental world of his own making – until his lawyer crosses the line and makes a witness cry when forcing her to relive one of his more notoriously cruel sentences, then he has an outburst and wants to confess. He admits to his wrongdoing and his remorse for it, testifies against his fellow judges, and says they should all be held accountable for their misdeeds, but also justifies why they did it, out of a love and passion for their country, which he claims is also his attorney’s reason for attempting to malign everyone who testifies against them. At the end of the film, he wishes to make sure Judge Dan knows he does not hold anything against him, and that he is sorry for his actions; he entrusts his case files to him, and hopes he knows that he has done the right thing, even though “it will not make you popular.” He respects the judgment, because in his mind, “it was just,” and the sentence worthy of their willingness to ignore the atrocities committed under Hitler and his commanders.