Claude Lanzmann is the 87-year-old director of the famous 9 and 1/2 hour Holocaust documentary entitled Shoah, which features testimony from Holocaust survivors and Holocaust perpetrators. The testimony, given by Benjamin Murmelstein, for that film ended up on the cutting room floor. I previously blogged about Lanzmann’s new film here.
So why is Lanzmann doing a new film, featuring the testimony of Murmelstein, who is now dead? Because Murmelstein revealed, in his testimony, that there was a gas chamber at Theresienstadt where the Nazis were planning to finish off the genocide of the Jews.
This quote from the news article explains it:
…. What angers [Lanzmann] is not that anyone would be making money off of images of genocide, but rather, that anyone would dare suggest that any such images [of gas chambers] exist.
“They [gas chamber images] don’t [exist],” he says categorically. “The core of the story is the gas chambers, and there is no footage from inside the gas chambers. All other sorts of footage are side things.”
According to the Ghetto Museum at Theresienstadt, a homicidal gas chamber was built by the Nazis in the Spring of 1945 in a corridor of the town’s fortifications wall near the Litomerice gate, (shown in the photo above) which is right by the Bauhof building, shown in the photograph below. Click here to see a map of the Theresienstadt ghetto. The Bauhof building is number 14 on the map.
The alleged Theresienstadt homicidal gas chamber was directly across from the Jäger (Hunter) barracks, an identical building on the opposite side of the town, which was used as a disinfection station where the prisoners and their clothing were deloused. The prisoners were disinfected by being completely submerged in a tub containing a chemical which would kill the lice on their bodies. At the same time, their clothing was disinfected by hot steam; they would have to put their clothes back on while they were still wet and then return to their barracks.
The ghetto inmates became aware of the alleged Theresienstadt homicidal gas chamber in the Bauhof building and were planning to blow it up, but the war ended just in time to save the Theresienstadt Jews from being gassed with Zyklon-B.
You can read about Lanzmann’s new film in this quote from a news article which you can read in full here:
The very first interview Claude Lanzmann recorded for his groundbreaking nine-and-a-half hour documentary “Shoah” ended up on the cutting-room floor. It was an interview he conducted almost 40 years ago in Rome with Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese rabbi and intellectual who served as the last head of the Jewish Council in Theresienstadt. Although the question-and-answer session went on for an entire week, generating hours upon hours of tape, Lanzmann never found an appropriate place for it.
These outtakes from “Shoah” form the basis of Lanzmann’s soon-to-be-released film, “The Last of the Unjust” (a play on the title of Andre Schwarz-Bart’s classic French novel), a three-and-a-half hour documentary that reveals, in his words, “the height of Nazi cruelty and perversity.” Lanzmann promises that the testimony featured in his latest cinematic work is the ultimate rebuttal to the “so-called banality of evil” theory popularized by Hannah Arendt – whom he disparagingly refers to as “Frau Arendt” – by demonstrating just how corrupt and conniving a man was Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann.
Several years ago, Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, the son of Benjamin Murmelstein, sent me 6 essays that he had written in defense of his father. You can access all of the essays written by Dr. Wolf Murmelstein on my website here. I also blogged about Benjamin Mermelstein and Adolf Eichmann’s plan to continue the gassing of the Jews at Theresienstadt here.
This quote from the news article about the new Lanzmann film explains why a new film, featuring the testimony of Benjamin Murmelstein is needed:
When “Shoah” was broadcast in weekly TV segments in Iran two years ago, Lanzmann took the opportunity to write an open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the world’s most notorious Holocaust denier, reassuring the national leader he had nothing to fear.
“I said ‘If you want to find proof in ‘Shoah’ that the Shoah really happened, you will not find this proof. Why? Because there is not one single corpse in ‘Shoah’. And that’s because there were no corpses. People who arrived in Auschwitz were gassed within the first two hours. Their bodies were turned to ashes, and these ashes were dumped in sacks in the river or allowed to blow away in the wind.”
Benjamin Murmelstein probably mentioned the gas chamber at Theresienstadt in his testimony for the Shoah documentary, which was not used in the film.
Was there really a gas chamber at Theresienstadt? There was a typhus epidemic at Theresienstadt in the last days of the camp and thousands of prisoners were dying. I have no doubt that a Gaskammer was set up, to stop the epidemic, and Zyklon-B was used to disinfect the clothing of the prisoners. It must have alarmed the prisoners when they learned that a Gaskammer was being used in the Bauhof building near the Litomerice gate into the camp.
Theresienstadt was one of the last camps to be liberated. Prisoners from other camps were sent there to prevent them from being released for fear that they would attack the civilian German population during the last days of World War II. Some of the survivors of the trains, that were sent to Theresienstadt in the last days of the war, believed that they were being sent there to be killed.
In a recent talk which she gave to college students, Ela Weissberger mentioned a gas chamber at Theresienstadt. This quote is from the news story about her talk:
Weissberger, now in her eighties, spoke about her three and a half years at Terezin and in spite of its emphasis on art, Terezin was still a site of despair and death. Weissberger told of a shooting gallery that still bears the blood of innocent victims and a brewery converted into a gas chamber under the guise of showers. All the while Terezin was hailed as a model concentration camp, covered by an elaborate veneer of propaganda as the world averted their eyes.
The photo below shows the old brewery building at Theresienstadt.
I have a section about Theresienstadt on my website, which you can read here.