"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". A Polish-American researcher visits Warsaw and attends a lecture about ethics. Afterwards, she approaches Zofia, the lecturer, and... See full summary »
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour". A Polish-American researcher visits Warsaw and attends a lecture about ethics. Afterwards, she approaches Zofia, the lecturer, and says that she is the little Jewish girl whom Zofia refused to shelter during World War II. But Zofia has a very good reason for her apparent cowardice... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
American Jewish Holocaust survivor returns to Poland to confront the woman who refused to save her from the Nazi's by refusing to falsify her Baptism papers when she was 6 (same age as the little girl of VII). This issue of the long-buried, unresolved/unresolvable hatred of the victim and guilt of the tormentor was much more effectively dramatized by the movie Death and the Maiden. As in VII, so much of the conflict takes place in the past, that the film ends up overly talky, too chatty. As usual, color coding intrudes.
Two major problems make the movie specious, morally duplicitous. One, the survivor's physical features, her thick lips, big nose, dark eyes, and coarse black hair, conform exactly to the derisive stereotype of the Jew used in myriad anti-Semitic cartoons dating from the 19th century through the 3rd Reich. It's like casting an African-American who looks just like a cartoon Sambo. Her homeliness stands in marked contrast to the attractiveness of each and every other female in the series. One can only wonder to what degree this was unintentional, unconscious, reflecting an accepted assumed bigotry.
Second, just like the contortionist in the park (was he meant to mock the film?), K. bends over backward to exonerate the Pole from guilt. The plot twist of her having received word in advance that the SS was sending out children in need of Baptism papers as decoys is just too convenient (again, that problem of credibility). Her belonging to the Polish underground is even harder to swallow, even more unlikely. What Polish underground? That must have been a really exclusive minority. There was no organized effort by any Polish underground to save Jews; whatever Jews happened to be rescued were done so by individuals acting on their own. To claim otherwise, as K. does, is to lie. Widespread deep-seated Polish anti-Semitism both predated and survived the Nazi invasion; Poles killed Jews even after the Nazi's retreated. To this day they make life insufferable for the scarce Jews who remain in their country. (I have this directly from a Jewish colleague who grew up in and fled modern Communist Poland.)
The bonding between victim and tormenter seems a hollow contrivance to evade responsibility. This is the only episode with a pat ending. In fact, it casts all those that preceded in a dubious light. It itself bears false witness.
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