A docudrama that speaks to us today
March 9, 2019
Josef Goebbels declared Berlin Berlin Judenfrein, cleared of Jews in the fourth year of WWII. And yet 1700 or perhaps more remained, went under ground and survived, thanks to native intelligence and the good Germans who protected them as best as they could.
Director Claus Raefle's camera follows four survivors, some alive at the time of production. With a savvy crosscutting of newsreels of the early 40s Berlin, recreation of life clandestinely in the open and interviews with the survivors add a depth of understanding and immediacy of Hitler's race war against German Jews. The narrative is gripping and grim, but uncompromisingly forthright. Time has hardly softened the film's import, for today we see in the media horror stories of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Yemen, Sudan and sorry to say Israel in the Palestinian occupied territories. We saw in Rwanda and Kosovo., Iraq and Syria, Libya... The novel Gore Vidal spoke of historical amnesia, a truth that is ignored, as events 80 years ago, let alone five years ago seem so distant. Forgetfulness or historical amnesia is a heavy legacy for as Santayana famously said, if you learn nothing from history you're fated to repeat it.