If you like documentaries that can knock you for a loop, then get your tickets ASAP for this one when it comes to your town on the Human Rights Watch Festival caravan.
If you like documentaries that can knock you for a loop, then get your tickets ASAP for this one when it comes to your town on the Human Rights Watch Festival caravan. By forgoing archive footage and musical underscoring, this film offers instead a great mix of grim reality along with the completely absurd.
The docu opens with a montage of scenes depicting the now picturesque village of Mauthausen, Austria. Then the camera crew joins up with a group of madly chattering high school students who are about to take a tour of the Memorial but have no idea what they are about to witness. The guides that are employed at the Mauthausen Museum are extremely dedicated and do a great job of intensifying people's limited understanding of what really went on inside the camps. The graphic descriptions nearly cause one of the students to faint.
Luckily for viewers of this film, the incredibly, emotional tour is broken up into three segments. One can only imagine the magnitude of the experience for those that visit in person and are forced to try to decipher the madness that was Hitler's Final Solution. This particular camp started as a men-only forced labor camp featuring the usual suspects of any regime change: political prisoners, homosexuals, homeless people, and other "undesirables." In the final years of the war women and Jews were added to the camp as Hitler tried vainly to complete the Jewish genocide before the Allied invasion.
Throughout the film there are also interviews with local Austrians who lived through and profited by the Nazi experiment, both then and now. It also showcases the absurdity of real life after the Holocaust. Several local women offer eyewitness accounts of atrocities that occurred while living among the SS officers (one woman admits marrying a handsome Nazi). Others freely admit to the prosperity that the German army brought to the very poor town (pre-WW2) and the continuing business growth (a tavern is located directly across from the main walls of the death camp) as a result of being situated near the infamous site for which their village will always be remembered.
Excellent documentary, totally blew me away. The power of this film lies in the unexpected anti-semiticism that is revealed by what the tourists do and how they react to what is shown to them.
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