Claude Lanzmann's monumental Shoah is the most celebrated film about the Holocaust ever made. For eleven years, Lanzmann traveled the world in search of those witnesses closest to the agony of the Jews of Europe during the Nazi terror. In superbly conducted, detailed interviews, rendered in searching, intimate close-ups, survivors disclose personal experiences at the limit of human expression. Thus we hear the invaluable testimonies of Richard Glazar and the barber Abraham Bomba, members of the Sonderkommando at Treblinka; of Simon Srebnik, the young boy who sang Polish and German songs as he walked through the streets of Chelmno in leg irons, and of the thousands of bodies he helped to burn; of the Czechoslovak Jew Filip Muller who survived five selections while serving in the Sonderkommando at Birkenau to witness the destruction of the Czech family camp; of Rudolf Vrba, who escaped from Birkenau to warn Hungarian Jews of their impending doom.
Their first-hand accounts are confirmed in horrifying interviews Lanzmann conducted with former German guards and functionaries who scheduled the trains to the East; with average Polish farmers and townspeople who watched as their neighbors were taken away to their deaths; and with Polish heroes like Jan Karski, who tried in vain to warn Western leaders of the catastrophe unfolding on Polish soil. In counterpoint to their chilling tales, Lanzmann's camera surveys the former killing sites, mapping the terrain of mass murder and examining the monuments erected in memory of the lost Jewish communities of Europe. No more profound, more vivid or more moving cinematic work about the Holocaust exists. This volume examines Shoah from its inception through its reception in France, Europe, and the United States. New in English are translations of some of Lanzmann's key essays and interviews as well as a range of appreciations, analyses, and critiques by leading American, French and Polish critics and commentators.