Germany and the Holocaust
60 Minutes: Hitler's Secret Archives
The largest archive of Nazi documents is in Bad Arolson, Germany, where 50 million files detail the horror endured by 17.5 million victims of the Third Reich. Among the victims whose stories are held here: Anne Frank and the Jews on Schindler's list. Scott Pelley travels to the immense archive with three Jewish Holocaust survivors who see, for the first time, the detailed paperwork the Nazis kept on their torturous imprisonment. DVD only. Airdate: 12/17/06
A Newsreel History of the Third Reich, Vol. 1: The Early Days to 1935
A Newsreel History of the Third Reich, Vol. 1 compiles a series of vintage newsreels that showcase how Hitler's rise to power in Germany was reported to filmgoers in the thirties and forties. 85 minutes. DVD only.
Kurt Gerstein (Ulrich Tukur) is a World War II SS officer and chemist who is horrified to learn that the pellets he helped to develop are being used in concentration camps to gas Jews. He secretly tells a young Jesuit priest, Father Riccardo (Mathieu Kassovitz), who promises to pass the information on to Vatican representatives, in hopes that the information will be relayed to the pontiff, who could then reveal the Nazis' true intentions and stop the Jewish genocide. (130 min)
Angels Of Austria: The Church That Reached Out To Holocaust Survivors
An unusual group of Christians attempt to reverse eight centuries of Antisemitism in their hometown by inviting Jewish Holocaust survivors formerly of Wiener Neustadt to return for a "Week of Reconciliation" in 1995. Judy Faust accompanies her mother and together they embark on an emotional roller coaster ride of grief, compassion, friendship, and healing. The Ichthys Church (or Free Church) takes them on a tour of places that mark centuries of Jewish life: synagogues, museums, cemeteries, as well as escorting them to The House of Parliament to be honored by the Austrian mayor, but the moment of healing for Judy's mother happens when sharing her story to a high school assembly where students listen to Holocaust survivors for the first time. From the initial tentative moments to the last joyous laughter, viewers will share the difficult and rewarding journey towards forgiveness and compassion for both the returning Jews and the Christian hosts (many who were descendants of former Nazis). Together they willingly explore their painful past while creating new milestones that they hope will mark an era of friendship and understanding. 37 mins. DVD only.
Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State
Auschwitz occupies a chilling and disturbing place in the history of humankind. It began as a Nazi labor campt to terrorize the local Polish population and evolved intothe site of the largest mass murder ever recorded. This six-part series, narrated by actress Linda Hunt presents an in-depth examination of the camp's evolution and the decisions that enabled such an incomprehensibly inhuman place to come into being. Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State is the result of three years of research, drawing on the close involvement of world experts, recently discovered documents and nearly 100 interviews with camp survivors and perpetrators, many of whom are speaking on the record for the first time. Their stories are brought to life through the innovative use of archive footage, dramatic recreations of key decision-making moments, and their extraordinary testimony. While never losing sight of the suffering of the victims, this documentary offers a unique and alarming look at the mindset of the perpetratos - killers like the Commandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Hoess, camp doctor Josef Mengele, and SS Commander Heinrich Himmler. Written and produced by laurence Rees, the Creative Director of BBC History Programs. The historical and script consultant for the series is the award-winning Hitler biographer, Professor Ian Kershaw. DVD only. See http://www.keene.edu/cchs/t_resources/Inside%20the%20Nazi%20State.pdf for clips for classroom useage.
Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (Educator's Edition)
In January and February 2005, Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, a six-hour documentary television series, aired on U.S. public television and the BBC in Great Britain. The series chronologically explores the evolution of Auschwitz and introduces perpetrators from all levels of the Nazi bureaucracy who were involved in the design, construction, and administration of the camp. Interspersed is the testimony of Holocaust survivors. This Educator's Edition DVD-ROM is a comprehensive multimedia teaching tool designed to serve the needs of secondary, postsecondary, adult educators and students. Featuring video segments from the original documentary series, the DVD-ROM includes printiable primary materials that correlate to national curriculum standards. Included on this disc: 27 video segments from the seies, with discussion questions; 122 photographs; 25 maps and charts; 28 background readings; 19 primary resources; 14 l;iterary extracts; 4 complete units, with detailed lesson lans.
Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary
The astonishing true story of Hitler's private secretary coming to terms with working alongside unspeakable evil after remaining silent for nearly sixty years. (87 min)
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Pacifist, Nazi Resister
A documentary, directed by Martin Doblmeier, about the life, times, and eventual fate of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran minister who was imprisoned by the Nazis and hanged in 1945. Interest in Bonhoeffer shows no sign of abating, not least because his practicality and rootedness-and the struggle, which intensified in his last months, to reforge the role of faith in the world-demand that we engage with his example rather than simply revere it. The film is straightforward, and no less affecting for that; we are led through the chronology of Bonhoeffer's life, including his two trips to America, and even shown the code by which family members smuggled messages into his cell. As far as talking heads go, there are perhaps too many commentators; happily, however, they are outclassed by Bonhoeffer's contemporaries, including his close friend Eberhard Bethge. The voiceover, for the readings from Bonhoeffer's books and letters, is by Klaus Maria Brandauer. -Anthony Lane 90 minutes. DVD only
On January 20, 1942, 15 officials attended a conference at Wannsee on the outskirts of Berlin. Comprised of mid-ranking SS commanders and a variety of government ministers, the meeting was organized by SS Major Adolf Eichmann, under the direction of the ruthless and efficient Chief of Security Reinhard Heydrich. It was to be a polite conference with food, wine, and some debate, but beneath this thin veneer of manners lay an evil intent. By the meeting's close, the SS had gained control of the genocide that was to become the Holocaust. This 2001 HBO production stars Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci and is excellent in developing the personalities of those involved and the bureaucratic and legal contingencies the SS manipulated. This film is highly recommended by the Coordinator of Educational Outreach. DVD and VHS. (HS+). Color. (96 minutes)
The first feature film about the Holocaust directed in Germany by a German Jew. It is the story of a teenage boy growing up during the Holocaust, losing his family, and being forced into hiding, eventually escaping with the help of friends. German with English subtitles. (JHS/MS+) Color. (106 min)
This 2007 German film takes you into Hitler's bunker during the brutal & terrifying last days of the Third Reich. The riveting subject of Downfall is nothing less than the disintegration of Adolf Hitler in mind, body, and soul. A 2005 Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film, this German historical drama stars Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire) as Hitler, whose psychic meltdown is depicted in sobering detail, suggesting a fallen, pathetic dictator on the verge on insanity, resorting to suicide (along with Eva Braun and Joseph and Magda Goebbels) as his Nazi empire burns amidst chaos in mid-1945. While staging most of the film in the claustrophobic bunker where Hitler spent his final days, director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Das Experiment) dares to show the gentler human side of der Fuehrer, as opposed to the pure embodiment of evil so familiar from many other Nazi-era dramas. This balanced portrayal does not inspire sympathy, however: We simply see the complexity of Hitler's character in the greater context of his inevitable downfall, and a more realistic (and therefore more horrifying) biographical portrait of madness on both epic and intimate scales. By ending with a chilling clip from the 2002 documentary Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary, this unforgettable film gains another dimension of sobering authenticity. --Jeff Shannon Studio: Starring: Bruno Ganz Julianne Kohler DVD. 155 minutes. English subtitles. Rating: R
Fate Did Not Let Me Go
August 24, 1942. Trapped by history, a loving mother writes a farewell letter to her son just days before she dies in the Thereseinstadt concentration camp during the Holocaust. Lost for nearly 50 years, the letter mysteriously reaches her son in 1985 when he is 79 years old. This film shares the inspiring story of Valli Ollendorf and her timeless letter to her son Ulrich. More than a mother's farewell, the letter's message of faith, hope and love stands as a triumph of the human spirit in history's darkest hour. For years, the letter remianed a family secret. When Ulrich passed away, his family asked their rabbi to read the letter at his eulogy. The impact of the letter - and its expression of love that transcended time and space and even death itself - was so great that the family realized it was much more than a private letter. It was a letter that could inspire every pewrson it touched. Cast: Martin Sheen, Liv Ulmann "Her voice, like Anne Frank's voice, will be heard for generations." - Martin Sheen 30 minutes.
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.
Their story is one of the most amazing of the Holocaust: the so-called "last Jews of Berlin. " A handful of German Jews lived underground throughout World War II in Berlin. In this film, the desperate struggle of this remnant of German Jewry is dramatized. Based on the best seller The Last Jews of Berlin it stars Jacqueline Bisset. Rated as not suitable for children under 13. (JHS/MS+). Color. (114 min)
Genocide; The World At War, Vol. 20
A documentary that tells the story of Hitler's "Final Solution" and exposes the methodical destructiveness of the Nazi era. Set within the historic frame, from 1920 to 1945, this film exposes the methodical insanity of the Nazi era. Extraordinary footage and interviews with death camp survivors, as well as with Germans who were directly involved in implementing the "Final Solution." Narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier. (JHS/MS/HS+). Color & B/W. (52 min)
Heimat: A Chronicle Of Germany (Vols. 1-9)
This is a 16 hour chronicle of life in Germany from the end of WWI to 1982. It looks at the lives, loves and tragedies of the Simon family. (nine tapes 16 hours total)
Hitler's Courts: Betrayal of the Rule of Law in Nazi Germany
35 minute documentary about the legal system in Nazi Germany. (Reserved) DVD only.
Hitler's Secret Archive - (60 Minutes)
The largest archive of Nazi documents is in Bad Arolson, Germany, where 50 million files detail the horror endured by 17.5 million victims of the Third Reich. Among the victims whose stories are held here: Anne Frank and the Jews on Schindler's list. Scott Pelley travels to the immense archive with three Jewish Holocaust surviors who see for the first time the detailed paperwork the nazis kept on their torturous imprisonment. This aired on 60 Minutes on 12/17/06. DVD.
Holocaust Survivor Testimonies
This collection of 4 DVDs was recorded at the International Winter Seminar in Jerusalem at Yad Vashem between January 10-January 24, 2007. DVD 1: The Valley of Communities: Pre-War Jewish Life. Hanna Pick (Germany-Holland - Childhood friend of Anne Frank), Ruth Brand (Romania/Hungary). Approx. 40 mins. DVD 2: A workshop with three Holocaust survivors facilitated by Moshe Sternberg. Israel Orzach (Poland), Elisheva Lehman (Holland), Rina Quint (Poland). Approx 120 mins. DVD 3: A testimony on Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, and life after liberation by Ruth Brand (Romania/Hungary-Auschwitz). Approx. 75 mins. DVD 4: A visit to the grave of Oskar Schindler on Mt. Zion with Nachum and Genya Manor (Schindler Jews). Approx. 60 mins.
Holocaust: Liberation Of Auschwitz
The Soviet cameraman who filmed the original 18 minutes of footage describes the death camp. He tells of the horrific sights he and his comrades witnessed. When Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, the cameraman accompanied them to record the liberation process. This powerful program incorporates the personal impressions of the cameraman, Alexander Woronzow, with his haunting footage. Contains footage never seen in the Western world before. Originally used by Russia for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials. Warning: Not recommended for unprepared audiences due to the Intensely graphic presentation of atrocities. (Adult). Color & B/W. (55 min.)
Homo Sapiens 1900: The Quest to Improve the Human Race
Eugenics, Racial Hygiene, Selective Breeding and Sterilization. Unearthing startling footage and long-hidden documents, HOMO SAPIENS 1900 is a stunning exploration of the history of eugenics, race hygiene and the quest to improve the human race. Beginning around 1900, eugenics movements in the United States, Germany and elsewhere spawned government sanctioned research projects, with the goal of improving the human species through biological means - including selective breeding, sterilizations, and weeding out 'degenerate' members of society. This film reveals the social and political undercurrents of the feverish quest to build a superior race, and exposes how "eugenic theory has been used to justify the most virulent racism in the name of science." (NY Times) 85 minutes (DVD only)
Inheritance: A Nazi Legacy and the Journey to Change It
Amon Goeth was an SS offer in the German army during World War II who oversaw operations at a concentration camp in Plaszow, Poland. In 1946, Goeth was found guilty of murder of the thousands who were executed at Plaszow by a Polish tribunal, and he was executed for his crimes; he was survived by his wife and young daughter. After Goeth's death, his wife frequently told her daughter Monika that Goeth was the victim of a tremendous misunderstanding and he was a good and noble man at heart; when Monika began to learn the truth about her father's crimes, her mother committed suicide and Monika was forced to deal with her family's dark history on her own. In 2002, almost ten years after Ralph Fiennes delivered a fearsome performance as Amon Goeth in the film Schindler's List, Monika Herwig published a book in Germany about the memories of her father she grew up with and the truth she had to come to terms with; around the same time, documentary filmmaker James Moll came into contact with Helen Jonas-Rosenzweig, a surviving inmate of the Plaszow camp who worked as a servant in the Goeth family's quarters. Moll arranged for Monika and Helen to meet at the ground of the Plaszow camp for an interview, and Inheritance documents their conversation as Monika is confronted with her father's ugly legacy and Helen recalls the horrors she faced and the friends who did not survive. It's a brutally honest, gut-wrenching, and emotional journey that brings both closure and new questions. DVD. 75 minutes.
NON CIRCULATING. FOR CENTER USE ONLY. Jospeh Schultz was a German soldier on the Eastern Front. On the 20th of July 1941, he along with seven of his brothers in arms were sent out on what they thought to be a routine mission. After a short march they soon understood that they were on a quite different mission than what they were used to: Ahead of them, they saw fourteen captured local civilians who were blindfolded , positioned up against a wall. The 8 soldiers in Schultz' platoon were halted 10-15 meters away, and an NCO ordered them to execute every one of the civilian. Seven of the soldiers took aim, and in the silence that followed you could only hear the sound of a rifle beeing dropped. Jospeh Schultz disobeyed a direct order, dropped his rifle and walked slowly towards the 14 civilians which only heard cautious footsteps in the grass in front of them. The young Schultz positioned himself together with the soon-to-be executed civilians, and choosed death instead of killing helpless civilians. A few seconds later 14 civilians and 1 German soldier laid dead in the grass. He was executed by his own brothers in arms by order of the NCO. The issue of individual moral responsibility vs. obedience to authority is dramatized. This eloquent production relies on images rather than dialog to tell its timeless tale of personal values. VHS. Color. 13 minutes. (Comment: If you think about what the message of the movie is, it is possible that it becomes a justification for actually following orders, even if they are immoral, especially if it means life or death. Although a short film, teachers should develop the lesson with an eye to this concern. Note too that this is a story about atrocities committed against "innocent civilians." Shultz' courage is striking. However, there are no documented cases that I am aware of of Nazi soldiers or their collaborators being executed for refusing to shoot Jews. For many of the perpetrators, Jewish families and their children were not perceived as "innocent." Christopher Browning's book, Ordinary Men, provides fascinating insights.) VHS only.
Jud Süß (Jew Süss) is a 1940 film produced by Terra Filmkunst on behalf of the Nazi regime and conceived as an antisemitic propaganda film. The screenplay was written by Veit Harlan, Wolfgang Eberhard Möller and Ludwig Metzger, and it is partially based on the 1925 historical novel Jud Süß by Lion Feuchtwanger as well as the 1827 novella by Wilhelm Hauff. Neither the film, nor the novel nor the novella correspond to the historic sources regarding Joseph Süß Oppenheimer as still accessible at the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg. The movie was directed by Veit Harlan. The movie played on basic Nazi stereotypes of Jews having hooked noses and being materialistic, immoral, cunning, untrustworthy and physically unattractive. With the exception of Marian-who shaved off his beard, cut his hair and wore "Christian" attire for most of the story-the actors playing male Jewish characters were made up to look unappealing and alien (non-German) to German audiences. The best example of this is Marian's co-star Werner Krauss who played the two other major Jewish characters, Rabbi Loew and his secretary Levy. There was also a scene that purported to show Jewish religious services. Jewish extras were "recruited" (coerced into performing) in Prague (the capital of the German occupied Bohemia-Moravia) and the scenes showing the entry of the Jews into Württemberg and worshipping in a synagogue were filmed there. VHS. For Cohen Center use only. This video does not circulate.
The Longest Hatred
"They are the other. They are not us." Throughout time, words such as these have been used to justify and vilify. This stunning documentary takes an unsparing look at the ways such words have shaped the experience of Jewish people, from the first century to the present - a revealing history of antisemitism with roots long before the Holocaust and branches that continue to sprout in surprising places today. Part One, "From the Cross to the Swastika," traces an image that begins with the earliest writings of Christianity, which leveled the charge that Jews were responsible for Jesus' death. In this segment, historians show how demonizing dogma has affected Jews through the centuries - in Italy, Spain, England, and Germany - reaching its zenith with the development of Nazi ideology. Part Two, "Enemies of the People," shows how antisemitic sentiment has accompanied a growing nationalism in Europe in recent decades, causing a mass exodus of Jews from Russia and even resurfacing in Poland and Austria, where few Jews remain. In Germany, the remarkable collapse of the Berlin wall has been followed by the rise of neo-Nazism among German youth. Part Three, "Between Moses and Muhammed," takes a humanistic look at relations between Arabs and Israelis, once linked by pseudo-science under the degrading label "Semite" and now enmeshed in one of the world's most violent conflicts. Experts on both sides tell how Arabs and Jews, who for centuries lived in relative peace, have been drastically alienated by political turmoil - and how the anti-Jewish propaganda now disseminated in the Arab world is so eerily like that seen in Europe before World War II. Color, 150 minutes.
Memories of Kristallnacht
The sounds of broken glass, on the eve of November 9, 1938, will be forever etched in the collective memory. It was the night that the Nazis publicly and blatantly announced to the world that they had declared open war on the Jewish people. Through archival footage, photographs and first hand interviews with witnesses, this video forms a sharp portrait of the time and the events. 57 mins. VHS.
The Nasty Girl
A school project inspires a young girl to look into her town's past. The subsequent reactions of her neighbors and the townspeople make Sonja discover that here are secrets which the town would like to remain secret. Sonja is threatened and attacked but isn't about to give up the fight. Letterbox format with yellow subtitles; German with English subtitles. (Selected audiences). Color & B/W. (94 min)
A Nation Returns – Germany
This program looks at Germany Re-unified: while there were East/West communist/capitalist split, Germans could forget about nationalism, which is now back with vengeance.
The Nazi Officer's Wife
In 1938, Edith Hahn was a Viennese law student, a "Christmas-tree Jew" with a gentile boyfriend. In 1942, she was living under an assumed name in Munich, married to Werner Vetter, a Nazi party member who was later drafted into the Wehrmacht. Based on Hahn's acclaimed memoir, THE NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE is the riveting account of how she survived the Holocaust by posing as an Aryan hausfrau. Despite the risks, she kept painstaking records, including real and falsified documents, and photos of labor camps. These moving artifacts, along with testimony from Hahn and her duaghter, bring this tale of survival, resilience, and redemption to life. From award-winning filmmakers Rory Kennedy and Liz Garbus THE NAZI OFFICER'S WIFE is narrated by Susan Sarandon, with additional readings by Julia Ormond. DVD only. Approx. 100 minutes.
Nazis… Lest We Forget
Presents a post-World War II, German produced documentary and an original Nazi newsreel. The 1949 documentary Nuremberg and Its Lesson, was made to show the German people the full extent of Nazi brutality. It documents the 1945 Nuremberg trials and graphically illustrates the mass destruction of Jews and other Europeans. The 1944 Nazi newsreel shows Luftwaffe (air force) pilots demonstrating bombing techniques. (JHS/MS+) B/W. (35 min.)
Now After All These Years
After the Nazis came to power all the Jews of Rhina, a German village, disappeared. Those villagers who remain today discuss the old Jewish community and its disappearance. The few surviving Jews of Rhina, now living in New York, present a sharply different picture of what happened. The film ends with an emotional confrontation when the townspeople of Rhina view a film sequence of the New York footage. German with English subtitles. (HS+). Color. (60 mins)
Outcast: Jewish Persecution In Nazi Germany
Jewish persecution in Nazi Germany between the years 1933-1938 until Kristallnacht. Film footage and photographs with testimonies of witnesses who were teenagers at the time. (General Audiences). (40 min)
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
The Restless Conscience: Resistance To Hitler Within Germany, 1933 1945
This powerful and provocative feature documentary explores the motivating principles and activities of the anti-Nazi resistance inside Germany from 1933 to 1945. This film is deeply moving portrayal of individual destinies, charting with dramatic power, passion and depth, the development of the underground resistance. This film highlights the tension between an individual's responsibility to a personal ethical code and to a tyrannical political system. (HS+). Color & B/W. (113 min) VHS & DVD
Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
2005 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, this is the true story of Germany's most famous anti-Nazi heroine brought to thrilling, dramatic life. Julia Jentsch stars in a luminous performance as the fearless activist of the underground student resistance group, The White Rose. Armed with long-buried historical records of her incarceration, director Marc Rothemund expertly re-creates the last six days of Sophie Scholl's life: a heart-stopping journey from arrest to interrogation, trial and sentence in 1943 Munich. Unwavering in her convictions and loyalty to her comrades, her cross-examination by Gestapo quickly escalates into a searing test of wills as Scholl delivers a passionate call to freedom and personal responsibility that is both haunting and timeless. 117 minutes. DVD. In German with English subtitles.
Surviving Hitler: A Love Story
As a teenager in Nazi Germany, Jutta is shocked to discover she is Jewish. She joins the German resistance and meets Helmuth, an injured soldier. The two become sweethearts and soon co-conspirators in the final plot to assassinate Hitler. This would sound like a pitch for a Hollywood blockbuster were it not all true. Surviving Hitler: A Love Story is in fact a harrowing tale of war, resistance, and survival. At the center of the documentary is a love story for the ages, with riveting narration by Jutta herself, original 8mm footage (shot by Helmuth) and, miraculously, a happy ending. DVD only. 65 and 55 minute versions.
Synagogues on Fire
From Producer/Director Jeremy Newman. Footage of Kristallnacht. 4 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.
The Ritchie Boys
The story of German Jews who escaped Nazi Germany only to return as US Army intelligence soldiers. For the first time, the surviving 'boys' speak on camera about their rigorous intelligence training, their experience on the frontlines and their unit's special assignments. In never-seen archival footage, whose quality and colour are dazzling, the film tells of their courage and heroism. Note: Stephan Lewy of NH (Telling their Stories: NH Holocaust Survivors Speak Out) was one of these 'Ritchie Boys.' 93 minutes (DVD only)
The Road to Wannssee: Eleven Million Sentenced to Death
On January 20, 1942, 11 million Jews were sentenced to death at Wannsee. The trajectory that led to this death sentence--Hitler's political rise to power, the neutralizing of his opponents, and his obsession with eliminating the Jews--is the subject of this documentary. Archival footage and interviews with respected historians are featured. Dutch with English subtitles. 50 mins.
The Specialist: Portrait of a Modern Criminal
A German worker in the upper echelons of the Nazi party, Adolf Eichmann was in charge of the expulsion of Jews, Slovenians, and Gypsies from the Reich between 1938 and 1941, and then of their deportation from Europe to the death camps. In 1960, he was captured by the Israeli secret service in Argentina. His subsequent trial in Jerusalem was one of the first public events recorded on video. Filmmakers Rony Brauman and Eyal Sivan have assembled excerpts of this footage to create a tightly edited and compelling documentary about a bureaucrat who has fulfilled his duties during a time of war. Eichmann steadfastly insists that his part in the Holocaust was neither active or evil: he was only following orders. At the outset of the trial, the prosecutor calls Eichmann an inhuman beast, but the thin balding man in a black suit who is taking copious notes and nervously interlaces his fingers during the course of the trial doesn't seem to fit that description. Even during the tensest moments and facing direct accusations by the prosecution who wants to see him hanged, he refuses to show remorse or culpability for his actions. The film is fascinating for Eichmann's resoluteness. By the nature of his answers, he proves himself to be the quintessential bureaucrat of Kafka's worst nightmare. Perhaps the most striking feature about Eichmann is just how ordinary he seems--not a monster, not a mad thinker, but an efficient man who sat behind a desk, processing forms. Based on Hannah Arendt's famous account of the trial, "The Specialist: Portrait of a Modern Criminal" offers profound insight into how the Holocaust was facilitated by bureaucracy and a subservient mindset that allowed people like Eichmann to claim ignorance and shuffle responsibility for atrocious crimes around like so many carbon-copy forms. The DVD features a substantial hour-long interview with the filmmakers, an excerpt of the book "In Praise of Disobedience," and extensive language options, which come in handy since the trial itself is multilingual. DVD. B&W. 123 minutes.
The White Ribbon
Strange events happen in a small village in the north of Germany during the years just before World War I, which seem to be ritual punishment. The abused and suppressed children of the villagers seem to be at the heart of this mystery. Like a Twilight Zone episode directed by Antonioni, The White Ribbon weaves an unsettling and enigmatic spell. Michael Haneke's film is set just before World War I in a village in northern Germany, where a series of strange occurrences take place over several months. These occurrences are sinister and cruel and often involve the children of the village--not merely as victims (although child abuse seems to be a far-from-isolated event) but also as perpetrators. At least that's the way it appears. Nothing is completely spelled out in Haneke's scheme, which hints and insinuates and thoroughly gets under the viewer's skin over the course of 144 edgy minutes. We might notice the children are of an age that will make them mature participants in the horror of Germany in the 1930s and '40s, but even this is left as an unemphasized point. Since Haneke is an expert at denying explicit conclusions for his projects (see also Caché and Funny Games for more on the subject), we shouldn't be surprised that he withholds the answers to the questions he poses, or that the film is even more powerful because of this withholding. Adding to the effect is Christian Berger's Oscar-nominated black-and-white cinematography, which has a ghostly quality appropriate to the topic. In the end, all the strange happenings of the village are absorbed into the town's rhythm of life--which might be the most disturbing conclusion of all. --Robert Horton DVD, 144 minutes, R
Theologians Under Hitler
In the days after World War II, a convenient story was told of church leaders and ordinary Christians that defied the Nazis from the beginning. Recent research has uncovered a very different story. Rather then resisting, the greater part of the German church saw Hitler's rise in 1933 as an act of God's blessing, a new chapter in the story of God among the German people. This film, based upon ground-breaking research, introduces the viewer to three of the greatest Christian scholars of the 20th century: Paul Althaus, Emanuel Hirsch, and Gerhard Kittel, men who were also outspoken supporters of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. In 1933 Althaus spoke of Hitler's rise as "a gift and miracle of God." Hirsch saw 1933 as a "sunrise of divine goodness." And Kittel, the editor of the standard reference work on the Jewish Background of the New Testament, began working for the Nazis to find a "moral" rationale for the destruction of European Jewry. This provocative film asks: how could something like this happen in the heart of Christian Europe? Could it happen again? How does the scholarship of this period affect the church today? Does the church of today retain the ability to recognize profound evil? DVD only. 64 minutes.
Total War: World War II and the Home Front
The Second World War was the first modern conflict in which millions more civilians died than soldiers. As economic production became essential to military success, civilians were conscripted into factories -- and suddenly became fair game. In Total War, eyewitnesses from Britain, Germany, Russia, Korea, Japan, and the United States tell the story of the civilians -- children, sisters, brothers -- who suffered and died in the Second World War. Residents of Plymouth, Tokyo, and Hamburg remember the air raids; Russian peasants recall the siege of Leningrad; Japanese soldiers and Korean slave-laborers describe the brutality of war in Asia. Throughout, interviewees remember the extraordinary suffering of a people's war like none before. The people remember: Rosie the Riveter, shipbuilding, Pearl Harbor, air raids, the Blitz, the Siege of Leningrad, the atom bomb. DVD. Viewing time: 1 hour.
Traitors To Hitler
Documentary on the plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 by his generals and others. Contains extremely rare footage of the trail of the anti-Nazi plotters. German dialogue with English
The White Rose
While the vast majority of the German people enthusiastically supported Nazism, a tiny group of university students had the courage to stand up and speak out against the Third Reich. THE WHITE ROSE dramatizes the true story of how a small number of German students printed and distributed thousands of anti-Nazi leaflets throughout the country. (HS+). Color. (108 min.)