Claude Lanzmann directed this 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since they only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing by asking for the most minute details is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects themselves show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive and well in many people who still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.Written by
Gene Volovich <email@example.com>
An estimated 350 hours of footage were shot. The editing process took 5 years. See more »
Srebnik and Podchlebnik were not the only Jewish survivors of the Chelmno Extermination Camp. Today we know at least 9 by name, but not all survived WWII and/or gave testimonies. Lanzmann probably didn't know then. See more »
I understand the criticism of SHOAH. It fails in a number of things one would normally expect a documentary to deliver. It spends little or no time establishing the causes of the holocaust, nor does it even make a pretence of being an impartial document of what happened. This is an opportunity for the victims to describe what happened to them in order to ensure the world never forgets. The decision to secretly film some of the Nazi guards and camp officials grates as it deviates from this agenda and throws the partisan stance of the filmmaker into the spotlight. He justifies this on the basis of who they are and what they did - but that is a cop-out. He betrayed the integrity of the film by lying to them and proves little by it. That they have spent the years since the war ended rationalising their behaviour to themselves is hardly a surprise - if they hadn't been able to do that they would not have survived anyway. Having said all that SHOAH remains a remarkable testament from those who were there and saw and felt such things as none of us could begin to imagine. As such it is an important work that should be on every school syllabus. The people of the world who do not know, or choose not to believe, about the holocaust (and there appear to be lots of them) need to see this.
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