Act of Faith
(from the CBS series Look up and Live)
As Hitler's forces occupied country after country,
the Jews of Europe were subjugated and deported to concentration
camps, resulting in six million deaths. In striking contrast to
the experience in other countries, the Jews of Denmark were saved
by countrymen who refused to hand over their compatriots to the
Nazis. First the Danes, led by King Christian and their clergy,
flaunted Hitler's orders of oppression. Then, when deportation orders
came in October 1943, Danes hid both Jewish friends and mere acquaintances.
When Sweden offered asylum to the Danish Jews the Danes responded
by organizing risky, clandestine boat lifts to the neighboring country.
Ninety-seven percent of Denmark's Jewish population of 8,000 survived
the war because of the courage and compassion of their countrymen.
An Act of Faith tells this story. 1961, 28 mins.
Anne Frank, the young Jewish teenager who went
into hiding in an attic in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation
and later perished in Bergen-Belsen, has become internationally
known for the expressions of courage and individuality written
in her diary. This Academy Award-winning documentary uses photographs,
archival footage, and interviews to trace the life of Anne Frank
from her girlhood before the war, to her family's time in hiding,
to deportation, to her death almost at the end of the war. Through
the powerful personal testimony of those who knew her the film
makes the history real, and through the story of one person it
conveys the terrible magnitude of the millions of lives lost during
the Holocaust. 1995, 117 mins.
Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank
The diary of Anne Frank is internationally renowned
as one of the most moving personal testimonies to emerge from
the Holocaust. Anne, along with her family and four others, was
hidden from the Nazis for two years in an attic in Amsterdam.
Their survival was facilitated by four courageous family friends
including Miep Gies, a former employee of Anne's father, Otto
Frank. After the Gestapo discovered the inhabitants of the secret
annex, Miep was able to salvage Anne's diary, stories, and sketches.
Beginning with the Nazi invasion of Holland, The Attic chronicles
the devastating events that befell the Frank family prior to and
during their years in hiding. Based on the book Anne Frank Remembered
by Miep Gies, the drama features Mary Steenburgen in a sensitive
and compelling portrayal of Miep. 1992, 95 mins
Revoir, Les Enfants
During the Nazi occupation of Europe, local populations
responded to actions against the Jews by collaborating, rescuing,
or standing by. All these attitudes are captured in Au Revoir,
Les Enfants, Louis Malle's autobiographical story of the year
1944, when three Jewish boys are sheltered at a Catholic boarding
school outside Paris. The film captures the danger that those
in hiding lived with daily, fearing any small slip that would
condemn them to death. Julien Quentin, a sensitive twelve-year-old,
forms a shaky friendship with Jean Kippelstein (alias Bonnet),
sharing the normal confusions and curiosities of adolescence.
But these are not normal times. When Julien learns Jean's secret,
he awakens to an adult world of ambiguous moral textures. Soon
he will suffer a devastating loss of innocence and learn about
guilt, betrayal, and the terrible consequences of evil. 1987,
Boat Is Full
In 1942 Switzerland declared that it had more
than enough refugees, and according to Swiss law Jews fleeing
the Nazis were to be sent back. They explicitly were not considered
political refugees, who were eligible for asylum, as were soldiers
deserting from the German army. The only exceptions were children
under the age of six, along with their parents, and the elderly.
The Boat Is Full is a drama of five Jews who escape from Germany
and attempt to elude deportation by posing as a family that qualifies
to stay in Switzerland. The five are both protected and betrayed
by a rural innkeeper and her husband, who respond to the strangers
in their midst with a shifting mix of suspicion, resentment, humanity,
compassion and doubt. The refugees' story ultimately unravels,
and small minded Swiss bureaucrats carry out the letter of the
law. 1980, 104 mins.
In 1940, German troops occupying Warsaw herded
the city's Jewish population behind a wall enclosing the ghetto
district. Over the next few years, the Nazis began systematically
deporting the community to concentration camps. By 1943, the population
had dwindled from 500,000 to 60,000. The remaining Jews staged
a valiant uprising in April of that year, fighting to near extinction
against their oppressors. Border Street, one of the first post-war
films to depict the Holocaust, captures the fervor and terror
of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, as seen through the eyes of four
youths. Bronek and Wladek are gentiles who consider the occupation
an affront to their Polish heritage. For Jews David and Jadzia,
fighting back is their only choice. Their stories intertwine in
an emotional fury as they gallantly defend their lives. 1948,
Camera of My Family
In the 1920s the German Jewish community of about
half a million people was mainly urban and secular, with a substantial
proportion in the professions, finance, and retail trade. The
accession of Hitler in 1933 and the swift imposition of antisemitic
laws took many by surprise, and they struggled to gauge what the
future might hold. The Camera of My Family is narrated by Catherine
Hanf Noren, whose family made the difficult decision to flee Germany
in 1938, just before it was too late. Years later, in old family
photographs, Noren discovers haunting images of family outings,
decorated soldiers who proudly fought for Germany in World War
I, her grandfather's factory in Dachau all testimony to the integration
of German-Jews into the larger society. The trove of photographs
leads her to ask questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? How did
those to whom I am connected live and die? 1979, 18 mins.
More than a million Jewish children were murdered
at the hands of the Nazis. That tragic fact is difficult enough
for adults to assimilate; how can one explain it to children?
Daniel's Story, a 14-minute production of the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum, attempts not only to personalize the fate of
those children but also to educate youngsters about the events
that led up to that terrible outcome. Daniel, age 10, is a composite
of the Jewish children who experienced the war. In a child's voice
and language, Daniel recalls the chain of events that took him
from his happy middle-class German life to the concentration camps:
racial laws that forced him out of school, the yellow star he
had to wear, moving to the ghetto, losing the people he loved.
The story is enhanced by photos of real people and situations,
though none too graphic for young children's eyes. 1993, 14 mins.
In July of 1939, ten crates of ritual objects
arrived at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. The objects,
many antique and extremely valuable, came from the Great Synagogue
of Danzig, Germany, a magnificent temple which had boasted 1600
congregants. The sale of these objects, arranged by the League
of Nations, enabled the Jews of Danzig to buy passage out of Germany.
They were the only community to do so, and the artifacts they
sold to buy their freedom comprise the only such collection to
escape the Holocaust. Many current and former residents of the
city are interviewed in Danzig, 1939. They tell of a liberal,
mixed Jewish community made up of native Germans and Russian and
Polish refugees. Many of the people interviewed among them Rabbi
Iwan Gruen of the Great Synagogue remember little antisemitism
before Hitler. Yet all were forced to confront the tide of hate
that Hitler summoned, and their escape, along with the sale of
their collection of artifacts, is one of the unique tales of survival
to come out of the Holocaust. 1980, 30 mins.
Devil Is a Gentleman
Fifteen years after the end of World War II, Lieutenant
Colonel Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi chief of Jewish affairs, was
abducted by Israeli intelligence agents in Argentina and taken
to Jerusalem. From April to December 1961, Eichmann stood trial
for his role in administering the Final Solution of the Jewish
Problem. Eichmann was found guilty and executed for crimes against
the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The
Devil Is a Gentleman, a 12 minute segment from the CBS newsmagazine
60 Minutes, reviews Eichmann's career in the Nazi party and subsequent
trial in Israel in an attempt to examine the nature of his character.
Drawing upon interviews with people who knew Eichmann, including
the prosecuting attorney, a former SS colleague, a psychiatrist,
and a Holocaust survivor, the program raises fundamental questions
about judgment and responsibility. 1983, 12 mins.
Diary of Anne Frank
Since the publication of her diary in 1947 and
its translation into dozens of languages, Anne Frank has become
a symbol of innocent suffering in the Holocaust, and her story
the vehicle through which millions of people been introduced to
this era of history. While hiding with her family and others for
two years in a secret attic apartment in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam,
Anne detailed her thoughts and emotions as an adolescent girl
coming of age. A play based on the diary was brought to the stage
and became the basis of this film, made in 1959. The Diary of
Anne Frank captures Anne's fears, joys, and defiance as the residents
of the attic struggle to maintain a semblance of normality in
the face of overwhelming odds. The film's conventional Hollywood
treatment and upbeat ending, however, have been criticized as
inappropriate to the subject and its true outcome. 1959, 151 mins.
A Love Story
Memories pursued Holocaust survivors when they
tried to reestablish their lives after World War II. For many
who came to America, the vast differences between their new lives
and what they had experienced created problems that were difficult
to resolve. Enemies, A Love Story, based on a novel by Isaac Bashevis
Singer, follows the intertwined affairs of Herman Broder, a writer
haunted by nightmares as he tries to settle into his new life
in New York. Married to Yadwiga, the Polish woman who saved him,
he has a Jewish mistress, fellow survivor Masha. His life and
deceptions become even more frenetic as his first wife, Tamara,
arrives in New York, having also survived. Ron Silver, Anjelica
Huston and Lena Olin all give superb performances in this compelling
movie. 1989, 121 mins.
The story of Solomon Perel is one of the most
incredible tales to come out of World War II. A young Jew, Perel
was able to not only pass for German, but became an honored Nazi
soldier during the war. Europa, Europa follows Solomon's life
from pre-war Germany to Lodz, Poland, and then to a Soviet orphanage.
His Russian-language skills, quick wits and Aryan looks keep Solomon
alive after the Germans capture him. He improbably becomes a valued
German asset as long as he can hide his Jewishness. The nerve-wracking
charade carries Solomon to an elite Hitler Youth school in Berlin,
where he must mouth the Nazi line and remain silent in the face
of antisemitism. The anxiety mounts when he romances a Jew-hating
woman. Europa, Europa depicts Solomon's desperate bid for survival
as the Red Army closes in. 1991, 115 mins.
At fifteen, Elie Wiesel and his family were taken
by the Nazis to Auschwitz. On their first night in the death camp,
his mother and younger sister were murdered. His father, weakened
by starvation, died later that year. Yet Wiesel tells Bill Moyers
that his reaction to the Holocaust was never to become filled
with hate; it was more complex. Hatred is not only destructive
but self-destructive, says Wiesel in Facing Hate, an interview
that explores the origins and manifestations of hatred. Wiesel,
who has organized conferences on the subject, talks about why
vengeance was not an adequate response for him, about the differences
between anger and hate; and of the inadequacy of reconciliation.
He and Moyers also explore the heritage of hate, the way the hater
dehumanizes the victim, and the question of faith and meaning
after Auschwitz. 1991, 60 mins.
Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Despite Mussolini's alliance with Hitler, the
Jews of Italy experienced some degree of protection because of
the reluctance of Italian police and citizens to assist in the
deportation of their Jewish compatriots. Once the Germans invaded
Italy in September 1943, however, arrests were stepped up, and
about 8,000 Italian Jews lost their lives in the Holocaust. The
Garden of the Finzi-Continis, which won the Oscar¬ for Best
Foreign Film in 1971, is an exquisite film about an aristocratic
Italian-Jewish family during this period. The Finzi-Continis hide
behind the high stone walls of their magnificent estate, inviting
friends to play tennis on their court when the country club shuts
its doors to Jews in compliance with ñracial laws. Their
attempts to preserve their way of life become increasingly strained,
however, and are ultimately doomed. 1971, 95 mins.
(from The World at War)
Nazi racial theory, an ideology that captivated
millions of Germans in the 1920s and 30s, was translated into
concrete policies by Heinrich Himmler, who created the SS. Once
the Nazis came to power, the concept of the Aryan ñmaster
raceî was taught in classrooms throughout Germany. The doctrine
was implemented in anti-Jewish laws and actions and, ultimately,
the Final Solution, in which the Jewish population of Nazi-occupied
Europe was systematically deported and murdered. This program,
narrated by Laurence Olivier, traces the role of the demonization
of the Jews in the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust. Using archival
footage, much of it shot by the Nazis, as well as testimony from
the Eichmann trial, the film follows the systemized antisemitism
of the Nazis from its formation to the end of the war. In grim,
graphic images and straightforward narration, it sets out the
events that define its topic. 1975, 52 mins.
Their friendships have lasted since they were
children growing up in prewar Libau, Lithuania, a small resort
town on the Baltic Sea. Although they are now elderly women, they
still call themselves the girls. In Girlfriends, the women reveal
the extraordinary moments of mutual support that helped them survive
the war years, including time in the ghetto, labor camps, and
witnessing of Nazi atrocities. The documentary, set in Israel,
is filled with laughter, song, card playing, warm visits, classic
kibitzing and joy in their ongoing connections, even as their
shared tragic past informs their daily lives. With openness and
not always agreeing they tell their individual and collective
stories, passing on their legacy to future generations. 1994,
Evening, Mr. Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg, an attache to the Swedish Embassy,
was sent at the initiative of Swedish Jewish businessmen on a
rescue mission of Hungarian Jews. He distributed Swedish papers
(Wallenberg passports'), protected Jews in ñWallenberg
houses, internationalized the ghetto to give the 33,000 Jews within
it more protections, and saved thousands of Jews from deportation.
On January 17, 1945, Wallenberg was taken to Moscow as a Soviet
prisoner. He was never released, and his fate has remained a mystery.
Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, a Swedish feature film, chronicles
the last days of the war in Budapest. The Soviet noose is tightening
around the city, yet the unrelenting mass murder of Jews continues.
In this almost surreal atmosphere, where only the victims seem
sane, Wallenberg fights tirelessly to save as many as he can and
to preserve a semblance of humanity amidst the nihilistic horror.
1990, 115 mins.
In the years following World War II, the victorious
Allies set up a court in which to try Nazi leaders for war crimes.
As the world watched in fascination, the Nuremberg trials brought
to light issues of accountability and responsibility under the
Nazi regime. Judgment at Nuremberg was Hollywood's first attempt
to confront issues of guilt and innocence in the Holocaust. It
premiered in Berlin to an invited international audience, and
won the Oscar for Best Picture. Judgment at Nuremberg presents
the trial of a group of German judges charged with crimes committed
in the name of the law. Starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster,
Judy Garland and Maximilian Schell, the film addresses the complex
issue of assigning culpability. 1961, 187 mins.
A Return to Auschwitz
Kitty Felix was the spirited, independent-minded
second child of a well-educated Jewish family, growing up in Bielsko,
Poland, in the 1930s. In 1943, at the age of seventeen, she was
sent to Auschwitz along with her mother. Kitty: A Return to Auschwitz
follows Kitty, now a radiographer in England, as she goes back
with her grown son to the camp where she survived for two years.
She revisits the barracks, the work areas, and the latrines, recalling
what existence was like there. While this is clearly painful for
her, she endures it to tell her story which is the story of millions
of others as well. She describes the support she and her mother
gave each other and the things they did to survive. You are here,
she tells her son, just to see that it is true, that it was true,
and you can tell your children. 1979, 82 mins. >
Ghettoization was the first step in the Nazis
destruction of the Jews of Europe. Crowded together and forced
to labor and live in horrendous conditions, the denizens of the
ghettos searched for any method to make meaning out of an existence
that seemed doomed and completely meaningless. Lodz Ghetto examines
the nightmarish struggle for survival that was the daily lot of
the people trapped in the longest lasting of the Jewish ghettos.
Using historical and contemporary footage, diaries, monographs,
and the voices of survivors, Lodz Ghetto shows how the inhabitants
persevered in the face of the terrible forces arrayed against
them. The film also examines the role of Chaim Mordechai Rumkowski,
the leader of the ghetto, who enforced the German policies even
as they killed thousands of his people. 1989, 118 mins.
The trial of John Demjanjuk highlighted the problems
of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice so many years after
the fact. The dwindling numbers of people on both sides, the reliability
of elderly witnesses' memory, and the simple passage of time conspire
to make assessments of guilt or innocence extremely difficult.
Questions of memory and emotion loom large in Music Box, an intense
courtroom thriller about a Chicago attorney (Jessica Lange) who
defends her Hungarian immigrant father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) against
charges of war crimes. As Ann Talbot, Lange must establish innocence
even as she wrestles with growing doubts about her father's dubious
past. In a sudden twist, the trial shifts to Hungary, where Ann's
waning objectivity succumbs to anger. 1988, 126 mins.
The essential fact of the Holocaust that millions
of lives were extinguished for arbitrary, political reasons is
brought home in Alain Resnais's harrowing 1955 documentary. Every
aspect of the Nazi orchestra of death, from the roundup and labeling
of the victims to their eventual death in the gas chambers, is
shown. Contrasting images of the camps during the war with the
desolate, overgrown, and run-down edifices that exist in the present,
the film challenges its viewers not to forget what happened even
as the reminders dwindle. No description, no shot can restore
[the camps] true dimension, the narrator says. Still, Night and
Fog comes as close as it is possible to get to the horrors of
the concentration camps. 1955, 34 mins.
After All These Years
In the 1920s, Rhina was the only Prussian village
whose population was evenly divided between Jews and Christians.
Jews had lived there for generations and were integrated into
the local economy. Under the Nazis the town's synagogue was burned,
windows were smashed, and Jews were beaten; those who did not
escape were arrested and deported. Today, the town has no Jewish
population. How do current residents of Rhina recall that time?
In Now... After All These Years, a German filmmaker tries to reconstitute
Rhina's history by talking to Jewish survivors living in New York
and to the Germans who remain. Everywhere in Rhina he is met with
denial, avowed ignorance, and an angry refusal to confront the
past. The residents' evasive responses reveal much about the climate
leading up to the Holocaust as well as the unwillingness of ordinary
men and women to acknowledge or atone for their part in it. 1981,
The years 1932-33 were critical ones for Germany's
Jews, when popular disaffection and political turmoil fueled by
an economic crisis set the stage for Hitler's rise to power. As
Nazi views took hold, the Jews fully integrated into German society
and accepting the nation's ideals as their own were increasingly
viewed as foreigners and enemies, which many found incomprehensible.
This mood culminated in the boycott of Jewish stores and professionals
in 1934. The Oppermanns, a drama made for German TV, recounts
how one wealthy German-Jewish family responded during these pivotal
years. As the film opens, the family meets to discuss merging
their furniture business with that of an old rival, who may be
a Nazi. But the Oppermann brothers the store's manager, a doctor
and a man of letters continue to emotionally resist acknowledging
the extent of Nazi gains. Finally, they can resist no longer.
1986, 235 mins.
Efforts to document the Holocaust began while
it was still happening. A Painful Reminder is a documentary filmed
by a unit of the British Army's psychological warfare division
in the spring of 1945; Alfred Hitchcock helped shape the raw material.
Considered too controversial at the time, it was not publicly
viewed until the 1980s. The film sketches Hitler's rise to power,
then provides gruesome details of concentration and extermination
camps such as Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald and Auschwitz.
Besides on-the-scene comments by British troops, A Painful Reminder
follows the stories of several Jewish survivors, and carefully
shows German municipal officials and citizens at the death camps.
The film addresses the post-war political considerations that
led to its being shelved for so many years. 1985, 69 mins.
Partisans of Vilna explores the moral dilemmas
and continuous dangers facing young Jews who organized an underground
resistance in the Vilna ghetto and fought as partisans in the
woods. Interviews with survivors of the Jewish resistance movement
tell the largely unknown story of the Jews who risked their lives
and those of others to fight the Nazis. Among those who speak
are Israeli poet Abba Kovner, a resistance leader, and Chaika
Grossman, former Israeli Knesset member. The survivors, whose
stories are interspersed with rare archival footage from 1939-44,
tell how enforced ghetto life, unbearable in many respects, led
to plans to build grenades, blow up a train, and continually fight
back, under constant threat of death. 1986, 130 mins.
Sol Nazerman is a refugee from a nightmare. His
memories of the family and life he lost in the Holocaust influence
his every action. A man whose emotional life was wrenched from
him, he maintains a cold distance toward all who approach him.
Played brilliantly by Rod Steiger, Nazerman eventually comes to
recognize human suffering beyond his own when his capacity for
sorrow is belatedly revived by a dramatic turn of events. But
Nazerman is a controversial figure, and the film raises difficult
questions about whether parallels can be drawn between the ghettos
of New York and Europe, and between victim and victimizer. Based
on a novel by American Jewish writer Edward Lewis Wallant, this
is the first American film to portray the inside of the death
camps. 1965, 120 mins.
Oskar Schindler started World War II as a charming
playboy and black-market dealer and emerged at its end the savior
of over 1,000 Polish Jews. Bribing SS cronies, Schindler established
a factory where Jews could be employed and thus escape deportation.
Protection of his workers continued at the Plaszow labor camp.
Schindler initially profited from his efforts Ü but is that
why he did it? Schindler is a riveting documentary that offers
testimony from those who knew the real man: his wife, the mistress
of Amon Goeth, SS supervisor of the Plaszow camp, and many of
Schindler's Jews. However elusive his motives or flawed his character,
to them Schindler was an angel in the midst of hell. 1983, 82
In Shoah, director Claude Lanzmann piles detail
upon detail to give the most comprehensive account of the Holocaust
available on film. This riveting epic uses no historical footage
of Nazi Germany or the death camps. Instead, Lanzmann tells the
story of the Holocaust through interviews with concentration camp
survivors, Nazi SS, historians of the era, and regular people
who saw the trains of the condemned pass by their homes or watched
their cities become Judenrien. Lanzmann's camera eloquently lingers
over the miles of train tracks that made the extermination of
the Jews possible while the voices of his interviewees recount
the methodical psychological, bureaucratic, and physical horrors
of the era. Equally powerful are the completely silent scenes
of snow falling over the crematoria, the faces of those tortured
by their memories, and of others, who are apparently unmoved.
1985, 570 mins.
Shop on Main Street
This film examines the moral compromises of occupied
populations in World War II that helped make possible the destruction
of European Jewry. Self-interest, greed, petty animosities, indifference,
and fear, as well as an ingrained tradition of antisemitism, made
ordinary people accomplices in the Nazi agenda. In The Shop on
Main Street, Tono Britko is a simple, out-of-luck carpenter in
a Czech village during the occupation. His fortunes seemingly
change when he is appointed Aryan Controller of a button shop
owned by a Jewish widow. But Mrs. Lautmann, the frail shopowner,
played by the great Yiddish actress Ida Kaminska, seems unable
to understand her change of status or the irrational events of
the time. The relationship that develops between the two culminates
in an agonizing decision. 1965, 128 mins.
Many of the Jews who survived the Holocaust owe
their lives to righteous gentiles who imperiled their own lives
by assisting Jewish friends and neighbors. The emotions of those
years remain undimmed by the passage of time, as Jews recall the
fateful decisions, personal courage, and twists of luck that helped
them slip through the Nazis' killing machine. In So Many Miracles,
survivors Israel and Frania Rubinek return to Poland to meet with
Sofia, the woman who hid them. Aware of German atrocities, the
couple had lived in a bunker in the town of Pinczow, fled, then
returned to hide with Sofia, who sheltered them despite her husband's
reluctance. They all stayed in the same house for over two years,
narrowly avoiding detection at times. Their reunion, 40 years
later, speaks of the power of bonds forged at a time when they
were forbidden. 1987, 58 mins.
Swing Kids, based on a historical movement, is
about a group of young men in Nazi Germany who defied the Third
Reich to listen and dance to forbidden swing music from America.
These Swing Kids make a moral choice to pursue their personal
freedom at the risk of being sent to work camps. Robert Sean Leonard
(star of Dead Poets Society) is Peter, the leader of a rebellious
group of Swing Kids. Every week, Peter and his friends openly
defy the Gestapo by dancing the jitterbug at parties in Hamburg.
But as the pressure to join the Hitler Youth takes its toll on
the Swing Kids, one by one, each is faced with a brutal choice
loyalty to their cause or loyalty to Germany's. 1993, 114 mins.
In March l939 the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia,
and two years later they turned the fortress town of Terezin,
near Prague, into a concentration camp. Here l40,000 Jews from
Western and Eastern Europe were imprisoned, prior to being sent
to Auschwitz. Through interviews with survivors who were children
in the camp, Terezin Diary documents the terrible conditions of
life in Theresienstadt, as the Germans called it, as well as the
artistic, educational, and spiritual activities that sustained
inmates who were spared deportation. Using Terezin as a model
camp to demonstrate to the world that they were not mistreating
the Jews, the Nazis permitted a degree of cultural life there
that was impossible in death camps. Terezin Diary emphasizes the
enormous role that art played in the lives of these Jews, many
of whom continued their music, painting, writing, and theater
in their later lives. 1990, 88 mins.
In Terezin, nothing was what it seemed: a beautiful
fortress town, Theresienstadt (as the Germans called it) was also
a concentration camp where hunger, disease, and death were the
daily rations. A ghetto where many of the inmates were prominent
musicians, artists, and intellectuals, its cultural activities
were preludes to deportation. A model city intended to show the
Nazis humane treatment of Jews, it served as a way station to
Auschwitz. Transport from Paradise captures the surreal atmosphere
of Theresienstadt during a 24-hour period marked by preparations
for an inspection tour by the Red Cross, the making of a propaganda
film depicting a well-fed and happy populace, and the deportation
that followed. An original, masterful work, Transport from Paradise
depicts the charade of the city that the Nazis proclaimed was
given by the Fuehrer to the Jews. 1963, 94 mins.
At the end of World War II in Nuremberg, Germany,
twenty-one former officials in the Nazi regime were tried before
the International Military Tribunal, composed of judges from the
United States, England, France, and the Soviet Union. The defendants,
ranging from SS policy makers to high-level hatchetmen, stood
accused of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, and
war crimes. From 1945 to 1946, testimony and evidence presented
at this first of twelve Nuremberg Trials revealed the scope of
Nazi atrocities. Trial at Nuremberg was broadcast in 1958 on the
CBS documentary series, The Twentieth Century, hosted by Walter
Cronkite. The program is a review of key moments from the trial
and includes captured German Army film footage depicting the destruction
of the Warsaw Ghetto and the horrors of the concentration camps.
1958, 30 mins.
of the Spirit*
When the Nazis occupy Greece, Salamo Arouch, a
young boxing champion, is rounded up with his family and Jewish
neighbors and deported from Salonika to the Auschwitz death camp.
Recognized by his captors for his fighting skill, he is chosen
to box for the entertainment of the camp guards. These are matches
with only one rule fight until one man drops. If Salamo wins he
might bring a small prize of bread to his starving father and
brother, but he also sends his opponent to the gas chamber. If
he loses death is assured. While grimly depicting daily life in
Auschwitz including the rarely dramatized life of the captors
the film presents the ethical dilemmas that existed even for prisoners
who had little control over their lives. 1987, 121 mins.
On January 20, 1942, at a house in Wannsee, a
Berlin suburb, a meeting was held with 14 key representatives
of the Nazi party, SS, and government bureaucracy. The meeting
led by Reinhardt Heydrich, the head of the German secret police
lasted 90 minutes and had one item on the agenda: the implementation
of The Final Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe. This dramatization
of the Wannsee Conference uses actual notes from that meeting,
along with letters written by Hermann Gûring and Adolf Eichmann.
While the Nazi officials enjoy a buffet lunch, brandy, and cigarettes,
they discuss in a clinical, businesslike manner the methods, stages,
and logistics by which they hope to exterminate 11 million Jews
from all parts of Europe. 1984, 87 mins.
In the autumn and winter of 1941-42, word of mass
exterminations in the East made itsway back to the Warsaw Ghetto.
The situation in the ghetto was dire: every day hundreds died
of hunger, disease, and malnutrition. But with the realization
that the Nazis were implementing their Final Solution, some young
people in the ghetto organized a resistance. Their campaign to
defend Jewish lives and honor and to revenge Jewish deaths gathered
force as their situation grew more desperate, culminating in a
battle in which they fought the German army with molotov cocktails
and stolen guns. Their struggle remains a stirring episode of
courage and humanity against a backdrop of horror. Using archival
footage and memoirs, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising recounts the events
that led to the formation of the ghetto, the impassioned resistance,
and the final conflagration. 1993, 22 mins.
of the Spirit
Throughout Occupied Europe, people were forced
to make a critical moral decision: how to react to Nazi actions
against the Jews. Most stood by apathetically. But in France,
where collaborators delivered 75,000 Jews, including 10,000 children,
to the Nazi death trains, the people of the small village of Le
Chambon-Sur-Lignon quietly sheltered at least 5,000 Jews over
four years. It was the goal of filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, who was
born in the village in 1943, to understand how this conspiracy
of goodness came about. In interviews with the aging rescuers
and rescued, and with historical footage, Sauvage explores the
Chambonais seemingly effortless decision to spiritually oppose
Nazism. He looks at the power of their Huguenot memories of persecution,
their solid faith, the quality of their leadership, and emphasis
on individual conscience. Appended to the film is a Bill Moyers
interview with Sauvage. 1989, 35 mins.
Shall Live and Who Shall Die?
Why was the American response to the extermination
of European Jewry so inadequate? Could an aggressive approach
by American-Jewish leaders have changed the fate of millions?
Was President Roosevelt hamstrung by an isolationist Congress
and antisemitic public opinion, or would different tactics have
persuaded him to make Jewish rescue a war aim earlier? Did the
State Department obstruct such attempts? These troubling questions
still plague many Jews and historians. Who Shall Live and Who
Shall Die? takes a hard look at the U.S. failure to open its doors
to Jewish refugees and the Jewish role in that failure. The film
includes interviews with those active in and out of government
in the 1940s Ü Peter Bergson, Nahum Goldmann, and John Pehle
of the War Refugee Board, among others whose views range from
scathing indictments to rationales for what most agree was too
little, too late. 1982, 90 mins.
to the Holocaust: The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Fifteen years after World War II, Lieutenant-Colonel
Adolf Eichmann, chief of the SS Bureau of Jewish Affairs, was
abducted by Israeli agents near his residence in Argentina and
taken to Israel. From April to December, 1961, the world watched
as Eichmann stood trial for his role in administering the systematic
annihilation of European Jewry. Eichmann was found guilty and
sentenced to death for crimes against the Jewish people, crimes
against humanity, and war crimes. Narrated by actor Joel Grey,
Witnesses to the Holocaust was compiled from portions of the court
proceedings that still exist on videotape (two-thirds of the tapes
have been lost). Eyewitness testimony and documentary evidence
provide a comprehensive examination of the Nazi attempt to carry
out the Final Solution. 1987, 90 mins.