Art and Music
The Architecture Of Doom
This film captures the inner working of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. It shows everything from the Nazi party rallies to the last days in Hitler's bunker. The first 30-40 minutes works particularly well because it ties together Hitler's asthetic vision (including his personal design of Nazi standards, uniforms, flags, etc.) and the Nazi conception of the beautiful body politic (in the form of eugenics). This film covers all topics from the banning of modern artists like Picasso to the extermination of Jews. A penetrating analysis of Nazi ideology which extends beyond the scope of ordinary politics. It claims that the underlying motivation was an extreme aesthetic aspiration to return beauty to the world - to counteract the miscegenation and degeneration that defiled it - through sheer violence. (HS+). (119 min)
Art In The Holocaust
Examines the historical context of the infamous Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) exhibition mounted by the Nazis in Munich in 1937. Includes archival footage of Nazi book burnings and interviews which lend a poignancy and immediacy to this powerful story of the Nazis' attack on modern culture. (General audiences). Color. (60 min)
For Tomorrow: The Story and Poetry of Hilda Stern Cohen
The story of Hilda Stern Cohen (1924-1997), a Holocaust survivor, poet, and Jewish educator. Her remarkable life spans an idyllic childhood in a small rural village in Germany, the horrors of the Lodz Ghetto and Auschwitz, the limbo of a displaced persons camp in Austria, and the redemptive value of spirituality and a reclaimed Jewish identity in post World-War II America. A unique experiment in telling stories of the Holocaust for future generations. Special features include Elizabeth Bolton's performance of song settings of nine poems by Hilda Stern Cohen, as composed by William Gilcher. 90 minutes. DVD.
Children of the Holocaust – Art by children at Theresienstadt
The Journey Of A Butterfly
The art work and poetry of children imprisoned by Nazi's between 1941 and 1945 is set to music in this concert. The small number of children who survived also tell their story in this film. (General Audiences). B/W & color. (62 min)
Kaddish: I Am Here
On September 8, 2011, a unique concert featuring the stirring words of Holocaust survivors, performed by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra - IBA, soloists and choirs from Israel and the United States, and conducted by Gil Shohat took place at Yad Vashem. Kaddish - I Am Here was originally commisisoned to honor the 25th anniversary of the Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College.
The Last Klezmer
Klezmer music, sometimes called Jewish "soul" music has, a rich and lengthy past, and now, a revitalized future. This film looks at one of the pioneers of this music, a 69-year-old man named Leopold Kozlowski. He is the last active Klezmer musician trained in the original, prewar tradition. The film follows Kozlowski as he returns, for the first time in fifty years, to he Polish village where he was raised. (Adult). Color. (84 mins)
Prisoner of Paradise
PRISONER OF PARADISE is the startling true story of Kurt Gerron, a well known and beloved German-Jewish actor, director and cabaret star in Berlin in the 1920's and '30's. Among his greatest accomplishments, he co-starred with the legendary Marlene Dietrich in the film classic The Blue Angel. Gerron also sang Mack The Knife in the original production of Threepenny Opera. Ultimately, he was captured and sent to a concentration camp, where he was ordered to write and direct a pro-Nazi propaganda film. PRISONER OF PARADISE follows Kurt Gerron's career and remarkable odyssey, offering a unique prospective on this extraordinary period. Shot on location in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague, PRISONER OF PARADISE is Directed by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender who have won Emmy and Academy awards for their work. Jake Eberts, whose credits include Driving Miss Daisy, Dances With Wolves and A River Runs Through It, is the film's Executive Producer. DVD. 100 minutes. Color/B&W. PG
Terezin: Resistance and Revival
Terezin to the Czechs. Theresienstadt to Germans. It was a Nazi concentration camp where some of the world's greatest musicians, composers, artists and theatre professionals continued to create despite the near certainty that they would be transported to Auschwitz. Indeed, the Nazis exploited their art as propaganda -- 'evidence,' they said, that refuted emerging allegations of a Holocaust. They even made a movie to glorify the lie. After World War II, the lives and work of these astonishing people were, for the most part, lost to history. All that began to change, however, with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the opening of the Czech Republic to the West. The long forgotten story of these people and their struggle is being rediscovered - in art museums, concert halls, school auditoriums and on the web. Survivors are talking - and a new generation is listening. The irony of this revival is that the art, music and theatre that Hitler used to help cover up the Final Solution is, today, a memorial to the very people he despised. Terezin: Resistance and Revival is a film and print companion that tells the inspiring story through the experiences of people who were there -- both survivors and those who left behind testimony to their experience - as well as those who, today, are determined to recall and preserve this incredible experience for generations to come. DVD. 88 minutes.
The Music Survives! Degenerate Music: Music Suppressed by the Third Reich
Nobody could resist Johny Spielt Auf. In the '20s, nobody could resist the bitterly yearning, ironically passionate modernist movement in any of the German-speaking countries. Some of the composers of the music on this disc were the toast of Weimar Germany and their music was performed in the great concert halls and opera houses of Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Sudentenland, the Rhine Valley, and Alsace-Lorraine. But after the Nazis seized power, their music was banned as degenerate and the composers were branded as dangerous. Within 15 years, most of them were in exile or forgotten, and many of them were dead. But, as the title of the disc says, The Music Survives! From the brilliantly lyrical Vorspiel to Braunfels' Die Vögel through Death's final Aria in Ullmann's Der Kaiser von Atlantis, which was written in a concentration shortly before the composer and his wife were gassed, every work on this disc is astoundingly good. That music is as extravagantly sensual as the rapturous Aria from Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane or as profoundly disturbing as the love-death from Schreker's Die Gezeichneten or as ecstatically joyous as the closing scene of Johny Spielt Auf could have been silenced is evidence of the vilest inhumanity. That the music survives is testimony to its transcendent humanity and sublime beauty. And that includes the singing sword and the factory whistle at the absurd climactic chorus of Johny. London's sound is rich, warm, detailed, and just about real. ~ James Leonard, All Music Guide VHS. 36 minutes.
The Rape of Europa
The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe's art treasures during the Third Reich and the Second World War. In a journey through seven countries, the film takes the audience into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But young art professionals as well as ordinary heroes, from truck drivers to department store clerks, fought back with an extraordinary effort to safeguard, rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures. The Rape of Europa begins and ends with the story of artist Gustav Klimt's famed Gold Portrait, stolen from Viennese Jews in 1938 and now the most expensive painting ever sold. Today, more than sixty years later, the legacy of this tragic history continues to play out as families of looted collectors recover major works of art, conservators repair battle damage, and nations fight over the fate of ill-gotten spoils of war. Joan Allen narrates this breathtaking chronicle about the battle over the very survival of centuries of western culture. Historical Background According to U.S. estimates, the Nazis stole one-fifth of all the known artworks in Europe. While the Allies returned most of the displaced art in the decade following the war, much of the loot is still missing. Tragically, unique masterpieces were destroyed and lost to posterity forever. Other works of art--the last, forgotten victims of the war--survived but remain unidentified, traceable only with costly and difficult investigation. By the mid-fifties the initial, massive restitution effort by the Allies had lost its priority and momentum to the pressures of the Cold War. Hundreds of works of art, their owners unidentified, still lay in government storerooms across Europe, or remained in the hands of unscrupulous dealers who waited for years before disguising their origins and feeding them slowly into the market. But this long quiet period is over. The end of the Cold War and the opening of the archives of Eastern Europe revealed that many works believed lost had survived. The commemorations marking the end of World War II and the development of Holocaust scholarship also led to the re-examination and declassification of forgotten records, inspiring those who had long since despaired of finding their lost possessions to search again. Instrumental in bringing worldwide attention to this long-neglected story was the 1995 publication of The Rape of Europa, Lynn H. Nicholas's landmark book on which the film is based. The documentary film by Actual Films builds on her scholarship by incorporating the latest historical research, examining the legal and political problems presented by contemporary restitution claims, and assessing the lingering effects of this massive cultural displacement, an aspect of the war that still haunts us today. The revival of interest in the subject of looting and restitution has had dramatic results. American museums from Seattle, Washington to Raleigh, North Carolina have had to explain how stolen paintings ended up in their collections after the war. In France, a catalogue of unclaimed art held by the national museums and ignored for years is now available online. Other nations, feeling the pressure, have also revisited the often unjust decisions made by their governments after the war concerning ownership of looted art. Perhaps most notable is the case of the five paintings by Gustav Klimt, long held by the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna, that were awarded in 2006 by a panel of Austrian judges to Maria Altmann, the 90-year-old Los Angeles niece of a Viennese Jew from whom the paintings were stolen in 1938. She subsequently sold the pictures, one of them--the famed Gold Portrait of her aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer--to Ronald Lauder for a record $135 million. Pillage and looting during warfare are not, of course, activities that originated with World War II. Even before the epics of Homer, human history recorded the time-honored tradition of victors seizing plunder from the vanquished. But the massive scale, the unprecedented bureaucratic organization and the legalistic rationalizations offered by the Nazis set their accomplishments apart. Not hundreds or thousands, but millions of visual objects were bought and sold, confiscated and transported around the continent of Europe. Just as the Nazis sought to impose their race-based morality onto the diverse population of Europe, they also sought to redraw the cultural face of Europe by rearranging or destroying its great artworks. Even in the upheavals of war the Nazi leaders devoted precious time and energy to the gathering of works of art. They carried out multiple operations with cross purposes. While Alfred Rosenberg's propaganda unit (ERR) appropriated artworks that would buttress the Party's racist ideology and pilfered the great Jewish collections of Europe, Hitler employed distinguished art historians and corrupt dealers to steal masterpieces that would confer prestige and symbolic legitimacy on the German nation. However diverse, these operations were all linked by an underlying, racist effort by the Nazis to use the expropriation and destruction of cultural property as a means to dehumanize their victims. The Holocaust has become a symbol of the dark side of humanity, and we have spent decades trying to understand what it means to live knowing that average people are capable of complicity in such a horror. The history of what happened to Europe's great art during and after the Second World War provides an important new lens through which to examine these seemingly imponderable themes. In contrast to the wholesale looting of Hitler and the Nazis, the western Allies worked to mitigate the tragic, inevitable toll exacted on art and historic cities during their invasion of Italy, France and Germany. Central to this history is the unprecedented mission of the Monuments Men, mostly American art historians and museum curators who, drafted into military service, mounted a miraculous effort to protect monuments and recover millions of pieces of displaced art. Moving back and forth in time, the film links investigations into looted art back to their wartime origins, tracing the remarkable journeys of individual masterpieces from wartime confiscation to present-day recovery by the families of the original owners. The Rape of Europa offers a privileged entry into the exclusive circles of the contemporary art trade and explores the little-known legacy of World War II that lured many post-war collectors and dealers into a Faustian bargain that continues to present day. We live at a time when the common cultural heritage of humanity continues to be vulnerable to the threats of ideologues and the assaults of armed conflict, from the wanton destruction by Serbs of centuries-old mosques in Bosnia and Kosovo to the televised demolition by the Taliban of the ancient Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan and the rampant looting that accompanied the American invasion of Iraq. The Rape of Europa is an emotional witness to the destruction wrought on culture and art by fanaticism, greed, and warfare. But it is also a hopeful film that demonstrates how it is possible for humanity to protect the integrity of cultural property in armed conflicts. Perspective on the film by Lynn H. Nicholas, author of The Rape of Europa My interest in the issue of art looting began quite by chance in 1980 when I saw the obituary of a Louvre curator, Rose Valland, in the Herald Tribune. It said, among other things, that she had been a Resistance heroine and responsible for saving and recovering thousands of works of art both during and after World War II. I was living in Brussels at the time, without any particular commitments, and my curiosity having been aroused, I decided to look into just what had happened to all the works of art in Europe during the war. Despite the fact that I had long been involved in the American museum world, I had never given any thought to the issue, and apparently no one else had either, at least not for a long time. I started slowly, in Brussels, asking people at the museums there what they had done during the war. As the story slowly emerged, all the Europeans were astonished at my ignorance and kept directing me to people who, by the late 1970's, held high positions in US museums. And so it was, that upon my return to Washington in 1984, that I began the real work. As it turned out, no one had ever asked any of the "monuments men", as those who dealt with the rescue of European art treasures during the war are called, about their work. I was very lucky. Since I had worked in museums for years, I did know many of them, and without exception, they were delighted to share their memories, letters, and photos with me. These personal papers were just the beginning. At the National Gallery of Art, I found the day to day correspondence of the Presidential commission set up to deal with art looting. The National Archives was another revelation: here were not only all the Allied records and photographs of damage, recovery and restitution, but tons of German documents recording the looting of Hitler and his cronies. It is hard to describe how exciting it was to find the files containing the actual correspondence related to this activity, often annotated by Hitler and Goering themselves. I soon realized that the amazing exploits of the Monuments men-and I include those from all nations including Germany who protected works of art, could not be understood without considerable analysis of Nazi thinking and policy. For example--the items that the Nazi collectors bartered and sold as opposed to those they confiscated and bought could only be explained by their theories on the degeneracy of races and cultures which were exemplified by the purges of their own museums before the war. I was also well along with my book before the issue of what had NOT been recovered even occurred to me. Although vast amounts of movable art had been returned at the end of the war, thousands of items remained unaccounted for and tracking them down and reuniting them with their original owners has become a hot topic. Politics and world events have made an enormous difference to the development of this research--most especially the demise of the Soviet Union, the opening up of Eastern Europe and the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII, with its reexamination of what had been done in the first years of peace--much of which, when revisited, did not seem quite right. As things thought lost forever came to light, families and governments began to look back at dusty records and memory was revived. All this was further fuelled by the gigantic increases in the values of many of the missing objects, with the result that many a lost work has been identified and returned its proper place. The history of looting is not just about objects. It is a story full of personal tragedy and loss, of bittersweet recovery of the fragments of vanished cultures and lives. The combination of devastating destruction and the most beautiful objects of civilization is very powerful and is made even more so by the visual medium of film. I was quite overwhelmed by actually seeing images of the stories I knew so well. With great sensitivity the filmmakers of The Rape of Europa have added new dimensions and brought this whole history to life in an unforgettable and exciting manner. DVD. 117 minutes.
Varian Fry, The Artists' Schindler
Varian Fry ran a high-risk, illegal program of escapes, channeling vulnerable artists, writers, scientists, political activists and academics out of France to the relative safety of Portugal, North Africa and the U.S. He went into Jewish occupied land. He laundered U.S money to fund his activities and give safe passage to some of the most famous cultural figures of our age. (General Audience). Color. (50 min)
Witness And Legacy
Contemporary Art About The Holocaust. (General Audience). Color. (22 min).