Watching ‘Shoah’ again

With tomorrow being the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, we are watching the award-winning documentary Shoah again. Made by the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann in 1985, the documentary consists of interviews with people who were involved one way or another with the concentration camps – Jewish survivors, Polish farmers and the driver who took the wagons with victims to the extermination camps, as well as Nazi officials who worked in the camps. Though the film is over 9 hours long, you get drawn into it and watch in full concentration, with strong emotions and respectful silence the stories that are told, while meanwhile you see the Polish countryside and the places where once the camps and massgraves were. The survivors’ stories are often heartbreaking and chilling and Lanzmann portrays them with a lot of humanity. The stories of the Polish bystanders give mixed feelings, some of them still show antisemitism and appear not to have learned from the horrors that happened. I advise anyone who hasn’t seen Shoah to go and see the film. This week it is broadcast in two parts by the German/French channel Arte. When I passed the Prinsengracht the day after I watched Shoah again and saw the people walking there I had to think of how during the Nazi occupation Jewish and other people were swept off the street and deported to a horrible fate in the camps. I thought how lucky we are today and how we should keep our vigilance high for any antisemitism or intolerance towards groups of people in our present day society.


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