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October 23, 2013

New Lanzmann film “The Last of the Unjust” will be in theaters November 2013

Claude Lanzmann has a new film, entitled The Last of the Unjust, which was shown at the New York Film Festival in September 2013. You can read a review of the film here.  I previously blogged about Lanzmann’s new film here.

The film is based on interviews, which Lanzmann did, in 1975, with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder in the Theresienstadt ghetto.  Benjamin Murmelstein died in 1989, but his son Wolf Murmelstein is still vigorously defending his father’s reputation.

When Lanzmann’s new film is shown in theaters in November, I believe that many viewers will have some difficulty in understanding it.  To prepare for seeing this film, anyone who wants to understand it should read an essay, written by Wolf Murmelstein here.

The title of the film comes from a play on words, taken from André Schwarz-Bart’s novel, entitled The Last of the Just.  Benjamin Murmelstein was being sarcastic when he called himself “The Last of the Unjust.” His reputation had been ruined because of the accusations against him after he survived the Theresienstadt ghetto.  Murmelstein was acquitted of the charge of collaborating with the Nazis, but getting his reputation back was more difficult.

This quote is from the article in the New York Times:

But the first on-camera remarks of Murmelstein’s that Lanzmann includes in “The Last of the Unjust” refer to the rabbi’s own state of exile in Rome and the lessons of Rome for modernity. Just as the city of Rome endures long after the end of Roman civilization, so, Murmelstein explains, all of Europe is enduring the absence of another vanished civilization—that of Judaism. “Judaism is missing,” Murmelstein says. “It is lacking from the world that was destroyed.”

In “The Last of the Unjust,” Lanzmann attempts to put back some of the Judaism. He films a cantor chanting Kol Nidre (from the service of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement) and the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, in the last surviving synagogue in Vienna. He films the Old-New Synagogue in Prague—and there finds stelae inscribed with the names of Czech victims of the Holocaust, a litany of names that ring to the eye with a music of their own. There’s a defiant, in-your-face aspect to the filming of the liturgy—the destruction of the Jewry of Europe also meant an attempt to destroy Judaism, but Jewish religious observance has survived.

In the year 2000, I visited the Old-New Synagogue on Siroka street in Josefov in Prague, but I did not see the names of the Czech victims of the Holocaust.

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

Old-New Synagogue in Prague is still being used

I also visited the Pinkas Synagogue in the old Jewish quarter in Prague. Every inch of the stone walls in the interior of the Pinkas Synagogue was inscribed with the names of the 77,297 Jews from Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic) who died in the Holocaust.

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

Tourists line up to enter the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague

According to information given at the Pinkas Synagogue, most of these Jews were sent first to the ghetto set up by the Nazis in the old military garrison in Theresienstadt, which is now the town of Terezin, and were then transported to the death camp at Auschwitz in Poland where they were murdered in the gas chambers.

For his film, Lanzmann also visited the train station where Jews got off the train for the Theresienstadt camp.  I blogged about the train station here.

The article in the New York Times continues with this quote:

Hanukkah means “dedication,” and the holiday celebrates a miracle by which the Second Temple, defiled by marauders, was rededicated, resanctified. “The Last of the Unjust” is itself a sort of rededication, an attempt by Lanzmann to restore something central to the Jewish world of Europe. And he achieves this through the words and the story of Murmelstein, a rabbi who took on an unbearable burden and came through it a pariah. Murmelstein’s efforts to save Jews are revealed to be inseparable from his work, under Nazi authority, to preserve the sham of Theresienstadt—he thinks of himself as a sort of Scheherazade who rescued Jews, and who rescued himself, by helping the Germans tell a propagandistic story. That astonishingly daring and dangerous moral calculus has a Biblical grandeur, horror, and authority.

The essay by Wolf Murmelstein is quite long, so I am quoting some of the most important text here:

During the Holocaust period, the Ghettos were not Jewish Communities but FORCED COMMUNITIES since the Nazis classified persons as Jewish on racial, not religious, criteria. So in the Ghettos, together with believing Jews, there were those converted to other faiths, and the agnostics, Zionists, Czech, German, and Austrian nationalists, persons having some Jewish ancestors, etc. etc. So persons, who did not share the same Faith and had not always been aware that they would share the same fate, now had to live and work together.

In the “TRIUMVIRATE” set up on the orders of [Adolf] Eichmann, Murmelstein had to work, in the capacity of “Second Deputy Elder,” along side the ”Elder” Eppstein, and the “First Deputy Elder” Edelstein and, by the subdivision of tasks, he had to supervise the “HEALTH AND WELFARE” and “TECHNICAL SERVICES” Departments.

In his tasks, Benjamin Murmelstein had to master the problem of different backgrounds and ideas:

Jacob Edelstein, in 1941, was hoping that Terezin would be a good training camp (HAKSCHARAH) for the Youth in preparation for a future life in Palestine. As a Zionist official, he felt bound to party-loyalty.

Paul Eppstein, a young promising sociologist, in 1933 joined the staff of the REICHSVERTRETUNG (after 1939 REICHSVEREINIGUNG) where he worked in the emigration sector and in 1940 he had to replace Leo Baeck as Chief Executive. Until his Martyrdom, he had difficulty in realizing that in the Reich, which was ruled by a criminal gang – internationally acknowledged as a government, assurances or other statements of a “state official” were only tricky ones.

But I am putting the cart before the horse. Benjamin Murmelstein had been in charge of deporting the Jews from Austria, starting in 1938.  After the war, he became famous as the last Jewish Elder at Theresienstadt.

This quote from Wolf Murmelstein’s essay explains why the Theresienstadt ghetto was set up:

But at a certain moment, the Nazis realized that the tale of “resettlement of Jews for work” could hardly justify deportation of aged or sick persons, war officers holding medals for merit, etc.

Furthermore, as explained by Heinrich Himmler: “Germans all agree on the idea of getting rid of the Jews. But then every German has his own Jews, stating that this is a righteous Jew; send away the others but let him stay here.” What Himmler did not explain was that some Germans could not be ignored at all. Besides, there were among the Jews highly qualified persons well known abroad, who could not simply disappear in the East.

The solution was THERESIENSTADT, a little town in Bohemia surrounded by walls and with many barracks, just on the Reich border, now better known under the Czech name TEREZIN. There Eichmann had the opportunity to set up a Ghetto under his own authority and to show the real meaning of his “great ideas.” Many Germans could then “be at peace with their conscience” having obtained for their “righteous Jew” – a relative, a divorced wife, etc. – a place in the “Model Ghetto.” Qualified Jews, known abroad, could for a while, send postcards.

From October 1941 until September 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein had to watch the deportations. At Yom Kippur 1942, he had a nervous crisis of desperation about things that happened in that year. He was in doubt about being ritually qualified to lead the prayer service for the very few believing Jews still in Vienna.

From the beginning to the end of the deportation waves, almost all Jews had been deported from Vienna. Besides the very few believing Jews – community staff members – there were many persons in mixed marriage and descendants of Jewish parents or grand-parents. In that year Benjamin Murmelstein had to face the Vienna Branch of the CENTRAL OFFICE FOR JEWISH EMIGRATION where the rule was “promises are valid only when served.” Amid harsh orders, he tried to save what was possible.

The number of the few believing Jews for the community staff had been the result of a difficult “bargaining” (requests had to be submitted in a suitable form) with SS Ltd Alois (Anton) Brunner. At end of August 1942, Benjamin Murmelstein, with his family, was about to be sent to Terezin. But Eichmann decided to delay the “re-organization” of Terezin “Jewish Self-Government.”


The delay of the Murmelstein Family deportation lasted only to the end of Jannuary 1943 because Eichmann wanted to report on JANUARY 30 – the anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power – the deportation of Jewish Leadership of Berlin, Vienna and Prague. So Murmelstein and some other Community Staff member with families had to go to THERESIENSTADT (TEREZIN).


The first Elder of Terezin, Jacob Edelstein, was suspected for some months of having contacts with the so-called Czech Resistance. Eichmann thought it right to follow a “cautious proceeding.” On January 31, 1943, Paul Eppstein became the new Elder of Terezin; he had just arrived from Berlin. Jacob Edelstein was downgraded to First Deputy Elder and Benjamin Murmelstein was named the Second Deputy Elder. All the three of them had been busy managing, in their communities, the emigration of fellow Jews to safe havens, and had failed to find safe havens for themselves and their families; now they shared the responsibility for the “Model” Ghetto.

Theresienstadt became famous as a “model ghetto” because of the two Red Cross visits.  You can read about how the ghetto was cleaned up, in order to fool the Red Cross about the real conditions in the camp here.

August 2, 2013

Holocaust survivor stories must fit the basic premise of the Holocaust — the genocide of the Jews

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 8:00 am

When I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the year 2000, I wanted to buy Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half hour documentary film, entitled Shoah.  I went to the book store at the Museum, with my credit card ready, but I balked when I learned that the price was $900.  Now Lanzmann has a new documentary out, and his original masterpiece is available at at a fraction of the original price.

There is an article about Lanzmann’s documentaries, which you can read in full here.  This quote is from the article:

Director Claude Lanzmann’s choice to focus only on those witnesses who were regularly in contact with the process of extermination forces the viewer to be reminded that the ultimate goal of the Holocaust wasn’t to harass the Jewish people or move them or make them uncomfortable. The purpose of the Holocaust—to obliterate the Jewish people entirely—is reflected in the empty landscape of Chelmno, where only the foundation stones of the killing area still remain.

The Chelmno camp was located in the small Polish village of Chelmno nad Neren (Chelmno on the river Ner), 60 kilometers northwest of Lodz, a major city in what is now western Poland. The camp, which was opened by the Germans some time in October or November 1941, was in the Warthegau, a district in the part of Poland that had been annexed into the Greater German Reich after the joint conquest of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Monument at the location of the Chelmno camp

Monument near the Chelmno camp, overlooking the Ner river Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The “purpose” of the Holocaust was genocide.  Lanzmann’s original documentary is a collection of the stories of the survivors. Every survivor has his or her unique story, but every story is about how the survivor escaped death in the gas chamber.

The article about Lanzmann begins with this quote:

Only the Stories Still Exist

A lone man rows himself down [the river Ner] in a boat, singing a Polish folk song. His voice slips across the banks of the river, into the forests beyond, and disappears. No echo returns to indicate that the man, Simon Srebnik, is drawing closer and closer to the forest clearing in Chelmno, Poland, where poison gas was first used by Nazi forces to murder Jews. One of the first Jews to be brought to the Chelmno killing center, Srebnik speaks with teary eyes about moving the bodies of the dead at the command of German soldiers and Polish special police.

A young man when the Holocaust began, Srebnik enchanted his captors with his beautiful singing voice. Strains of his song were heard by the non-Jews in Chelmno, several of whom still vividly remember the mixture of beauty and desperation they sensed in the boy’s voice. Srebnik himself calls singing for the soldiers while they were killing his people “true German irony”.

Like all of the witnesses who speak about the Holocaust in Shoah, Srebnik was intimately close to the process of Jewish extermination. As the film unfolds, more and more survivors tell stories about working in crematoriums and surviving the death camps. Filmed in their homes, at the camps or on stages designed to illicit their testimony, Shoah visually and figuratively approaches the Holocaust from multiple angles without losing its sense of purpose.

Simon Srebnik was a Sonderkommando, one of the Jewish helpers who assisted the Nazis in burning the bodies of the dead.  The Nazis kept no records of the Jews who were killed.  The proof of the Holocaust depends on the testimony of the Sonderkommando Jews and the numerous survivors who witnessed the “extermination” of the Jews, but somehow managed to escape.

Each of these survivor stories must fit the basic premise that the Nazis had a plan, called “The Final Solution,” which was the plan to genocide the Jews.  This plan was discussed at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.  Yet, the gassing of the Jews began at Chelmno on December 7, 1941, before the conference was held.  Fortunately, the Nazis left witnesses alive to tell about it.

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background

Jewish workers lived in the granary, the building in the background  Photo Credit: Alan Collins

The Jewish workers, called the JudenKommando, who did the work of burning the corpses at Chelmno, were housed in the granary during the second phase of the killing at Chelmno. The granary is shown in the background of the photo above.

On the night of January 17 and 18, 1945, the SS men began taking the 47 Jewish workers out of the granary building and shooting them in groups of five, according to the two survivors, Shimon Srebnik and Mordechai Zurawski. The Jews defended themselves and two of the SS men were killed. According to the two survivors, the SS men then set fire to the granary.

The price of Lanzmann’s documentary, with the testimony of numerous survivors, has now dwindled down to less than $40.00 but I have lost interest, and probably won’t buy it.  I’ve got better things to do.

P.S.  If you like fairy tales and such, read this blog post by Carolyn Yeager:

May 21, 2013

Did Adolf Eichmann set up the Theresienstadt ghetto? I don’t think so.

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 5:39 am

Claude Lanzmann’s new documentary film, featuring Benjamin Murmelstein and the Theresienstadt ghetto, has been getting a lot of ink in the press lately.

This quote is from an article which you can read in full here:

For three and a half hours, the viewer [of Lanzmann’s documentary] is taken through an exploration of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish Council in the “model ghetto” of Theresienstadt in Nazi-annexed Czechoslovakia.

Set up by SS colonel Adolf Eichmann as a bogus town run by Jews themselves – a Potemkin village designed to dupe the world – Theresienstadt was one of the grimmest chapters in the long record of Nazi atrocities.

Theresienstadt was not in “Nazi-annexed Czechoslovakia” at that time; it was in the German protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.  You can read all about Theresienstadt on my website here.

According to Wikipedia, Adolf Eichmann “was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust. Because of his organizational talents and ideological reliability, Eichmann was charged by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich with the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe.”

Nowhere on the Wikipedia page does it say that Eichmann SET UP the Theresienstadt ghetto.  He might have been in charge of the transports to and from Theresienstadt, but he did not have the authority to set up a ghetto or anything else.  Eichmann was “small potatoes,” not important enough to be in charge of setting up camps or ghettos.

This quote from the news article also resonated with me:

Murmelstein’s recollections, said Lanzmann, are doubly precious, as they prompt a new interpretation of Eichmann, who was kidnapped by Mossad agents in Argentina and hauled to Israel for trial, culminating in his execution in 1962. […]

If Eichmann was “small potatoes,” why did the Mossad go to the trouble of kidnapping him and taking him to Israel?  I think it was because Eichmann was the one who wrote the minutes of the Wannsee Conference where the genocide of the Jews was allegedly planned.

The Israelis wanted Eichmann to admit that he left out the part of the Conference where the men talked about killing the Jews, not “transporting them to the East,” as Eichmann wrote in the minutes.

Eichmann at his trial in Israel

Eichmann at his trial in Israel

During his trial in Jerusalem, Eichmann testified as follows during session 107 on July 24, 1961:

What I know is that the gentlemen convened their session, and then in very plain terms – not in the language that I had to use in the minutes, but in absolutely blunt terms – they addressed the issue, with no mincing of words. And my memory of all this would be doubtful, were it not for the fact that I distinctly recall saying to myself at the time, Look, just look at Stuckart, the perpetual law-abiding bureaucrat, always punctilious and fussy, and now what a different tone! The language was anything but in conformity with the legal protocol of clause and paragraph. I should add that this is the only thing from the conference that still has stayed clearly in my mind.

When the Presiding Judge asked Eichmann what Stuckart had said “in general” “on this topic,” Eichmann answered, “The discussion covered killing, elimination, and annihilation.”

On the basis of Eichmann’s testimony, it is now accepted that the minutes of the Wannsee conference were written with euphemisms, instead of the actual words used at the conference.

May 6, 2013

New film by Claude Lanzmann, soon to be released, will feature Benjamin Murmelstein, the last head of the Jewish council at Theresienstadt

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:42 am

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 Dr. 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 Dr. Murmelstein, who is now dead?  I think it is because Dr. Murmelstein revealed, in his testimony, that there was a homicidal 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.”

Gas chamber at Theresienstadt was located in one of these buildings

Gas chamber at Theresienstadt was near this location

According to the Ghetto Museum at Theresienstadt, a homicidal gas chamber at Theresienstadt 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.

Bauhof building at Theresienstadt houses a gas chamber

Bauhof gas chamber building is on the left and the Litomerice gate is on the right

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.

Until now.

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 Dr. 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 Dr.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.”

Dr. 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.

Old brewery at Theresienstadt was converted into a Gaskammer

Old brewery at Theresienstadt was converted into a Gaskammer for disinfecting prisoner clothing

I have a section about Theresienstadt on my website, which you can read here.

December 1, 2012

Claude Lanzmann to receive a lifetime achievement award at Berlin International Film Festival in February 2013

I learned about the latest honor which will be given to Claude Lanzmann, the maker of the documentary film, Shoah, from this news article in The Hollywood Reporter.  The following quote is from the article:

Shoah, a nine-and-a-half hour documentary, was groundbreaking in that it used no archival footage, being composed  primarily of interviews with Holocaust survivors and visits to concentration camp sites. The film screened in the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival in 1986, where it won the Caligari film prize and the FIPRESCI film critics honor. Shoah went on to win numerous other accolades, including the Flaherty Documentary Award at the BAFTAs and best documentary honors from the National Film Critics Association.

During the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival (aka the Berlinale), which runs Feb. 7 to Feb. 17, 2013, Lanzmann will be honored with a lifetime achievement honor, the Berlinale Golden Bear.

Golden Bear award given at Berlin Film Festival

Golden Bear award given at Berlin Film Festival

Bears are a symbol of Berlin because the Coat of Arms for the city state of Berlin has a Bear on it.  When I visited Berlin in October 2002, painted bears could be seen all over the city; the painted bear in the front of the Hotel Adlon is shown in my photo below.

Painted bear in front of Hotel Adlon, 2002

Painted bear in front of Hotel Adlon, October 2002

The CODOH website currently has an article about Claude Lanzmann, written by Bradley R. Smith, which you can read in full here.  The article includes a quote from Lanzmann which mentions the stones at Treblinka.  My photo below shows the stones at Treblinka, which are in a symbolic cemetery.

Stones at Treblinka represent a symbolic cemetery

Stones at Treblinka represent a symbolic cemetery

This quote is from the article written by Bradley R. Smith, which is on the CODOH website:

Claude Lanzmann’s Shoa (sic) may be seen as the masterpiece of Holocaust documentaries. But if that is so, then it is also the clearest declaration of bankruptcy ever delivered. After all, in his entire 91/2 hours of documentation, Lanzmann doesn’t show us any documentary or physical proof for the claims he and his witnesses make. Most of these 91/2 hours are actually silent sequences of railway tracks, stones, buildings, and countrysides, whose relation to the ‘Holocaust’ claims exists only through suggestion and imagination. He himself made his brainwashing technique pretty clear when he stated:[13]

“As a result of our filming the stones at Treblinka from all angles, they have finally spoken.”

With the stones of Treblinka, Lanzmann meant the field of stones erected after the war on the area that once was the Treblinka camp. Of course, those stones cannot speak about anything that happened before they were placed there. The stones in the soil underneath this memorial, however, could speak, if only one would ask them to: A thorough geo-physical examination of this entire area could confirm still today, if the Polish forensic investigations of 1946 were correct, that is, whether or not the soil in and around Treblinka was ever disturbed by massive mass graves and huge scale open-air incinerations.

But those stones Claude Lanzmann would never want to speak out, and probably for good reasons, since it would destroy his life’s work and shatter his firm beliefs. It was in 1994 that Claude Lanzmann explained why he did not include any documentary or forensic evidence in his movie, but restricted himself to psychologically impressive, but scientifically untenable witness statements:[14]

“There is not one second of archival material in Shoah because it is not the way I work or think, and besides it does not exist. […] If I had found an existing film-a secret film because that was forbidden-shot by an SS and showing how 3,000 Jews, men, women and children, were dying together, asphyxiated in the gas chamber of Krema 2 in Auschwitz, not only would I have not shown it, but I would have destroyed it. I cannot say why. It goes by itself.”

If it sounds like the statement of an imbecile, as Serge Thion has put it,[15] then read what Lanzmann had to say about his own movie Shoa in 1997:[16]

“Not understanding has been my iron law.”

So what is Shoa all about? It is about—NOTHING. Master Lanzmann himself explained it frankly:[17]

“It was necessary to make this film from nothing, without archival documents, to invent everything.”

“It is therefore a case of making a film with traces of traces of traces, […]. With nothing one comes back to nothing.”[18]

André Glucksmann was a bit more sophisticated when he explained that this movie is not about what happened, but about what could have happened, what would have been possible, what is imaginable:[19]

“The strength of this film is not in showing what took place—in fact it refrains from doing that—but in showing the possibility of what took place.”

I have not seen Claude Lanzmann’s documentary.  I wanted to buy it when I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, but when I found out that it sells for over $300, I changed my mind.

I don’t blame the German people, nor criticize them, for constantly bowing down to the Jews today.  Germany is still occupied and this is their way of preserving all those reconstructed buildings that had been destroyed by Allied bombs in World War II.

For example, the photo below shows the bomb damage to the city of Weimar, the home of Goethe and Schiller.  Why was the historic city of Weimar bombed?  The only reason to bomb Weimar was to destroy historic buildings and murder German civilians, the same reason that Dresden and Nuremberg were bombed.

Bomb damage in Weimar, Germany during World War II

Bomb damage in Weimar, Germany during World War II

Note the building on the left side of the photo above.  The same building is shown in the photo below, after it was reconstructed.

Reconstructed building on Market Square in Weimar

Reconstructed building on Market Square in Weimar

Reconstructed building on Market Square in Weimar

Reconstructed building on Market Square in Weimar

That’s all for today, folks.  I’ll get off my soap box now.

May 24, 2012

New film by Claude Lanzmann will feature Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder at Theresienstadt

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 11:39 am

On May 20, 2012, I blogged about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein, whose son, Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, wrote an essay about his father, entitled “The Last Unrighteous” — The Witness never heard.  A new movie about Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein by Claude Lanzmann, which will be released soon, will be entitled Last of the Unjust.

This quote is from an article about the film in today’s news:

Elsa Keslassy reports in Variety that Claude Lanzmann’s new film has a title—“Last of the Unjust”—and a lead producer, the new French company Synecdoche. The film, as I mentioned in my review of Lanzmann’s extraordinary autobiography, “The Patagonian Hare,” will be about Theresienstadt. According to Keslassy, it will “put a spotlight on Benjamin Murmelstein, an Austrian Jew who was appointed by Adolf Eichmann as head of the Jewish Council of Elders and rule over Theresienstadt.” Lanzmann will be filming, she says, in Israel, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

Claude Lanzmann is the film maker who created Shoah, a film which features the testimony of numerous Holocaust survivors.  According to the news article, Lanzmann interviewed Dr. Benjamin Murmelstein in 1975, over the course of several days.  These were the most extensive interviews that Lanzmann did, but none of them were included in the completed film.  Why not?  I don’t know, but possibly, it is because Dr. Murmelstein was accused, but not convicted, of collaborating with the Nazis.

This part of the news article, which you can read in full here, caught my attention:

Among the heroes of “Shoah” (and “heroes” is just the right word; the movie has villains, too) are Filip Müller, who, as part of a Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, took part in getting people into gas chambers and getting corpses out of them; and Abraham Bomba, one of the barbers in Treblinka, who cut the hair of Jews who were about to be murdered in gas chambers.

Filip Müller — a hero of the Holocaust?  I don’t think so.  I was very critical of Filip Müller in a blog post which you can read here.  I quoted the testimony of Abraham Bomba on my web site here.  Both Müller and Bomba are favorite targets of Holocaust revisionists because their outrageous claims tend to disprove the Holocaust.

In my humble opinion, I believe that the testimony of Dr. Murmelstein also tends to disprove the Holocaust.  I think that is why his original testimony for Shoah in 1975 ended up on the cutting room floor.

You can read an essay about Theresienstadt, written by Dr. Wolf Murmelstein, on my website here.  You can read the testimony by a child survivor of Theresienstadt here.

July 4, 2011

Claude Lanzmann: “the proof of the Holocaust is the absence of corpses”

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 4:56 pm

Claude Lanzmann, the director of the 9 and a half hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, recently said that the proof of the Holocaust is not the corpses; the proof is the “absence of corpses.”  You can read Lanzmann’s full quote here and more comments on his film here.

Lanzmann went to Iran recently and the Iranian Holocaust deniers wanted him to prove to them that the Holocaust happened: They wanted to see the corpses.

This was Lanzmann’s answer:

“I told them there’s not a single corpse in Shoah. The people who arrived at Treblinka, Belzec or Sobibor were killed within two or three hours and their corpses burned. The proof is not the corpses; the proof is the absence of corpses. There were special details who gathered the dust and threw it into the wind or into the rivers. Nothing of them remained.”

One of the Jews, whose job it was to dispose of the remains at the Chelmno death camp, was Simon Srebnik. I’ve never seen Lanzmann’s documentary, but according to Lanzmann, in the opening scene of Shoah, “we see Srebnik being rowed along the Narew river. As the boat eases through calm waters, Srebnik sings, his lovely voice mingling with the sound of the breeze in the summer trees.”

Since Chelmno was the first extermination center where the Jews were gassed, this was the logical place for Lanzmann to start his documentary on the Holocaust.   (more…)