Scrapbookpages Blog

January 11, 2016

“Son of Saul” wins only one Golden Globe award

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 8:21 am

You can read the full list of the Golden Globe winners at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/golden-globes/12041121/golden-globe-nominations-2016-winners-live.html

When it comes to awards for movies, any film about Jews or the Holocaust is bound to win in at least several categories.  Last night, the movie Son of Saul won an award for Best Foreign Film, but nothing else.  What a revolting development this is!

You can read a review of the film at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/movies/review-son-of-saul-revisits-life-and-death-in-auschwitz.html?_r=0

Photo from the movie Son of Saul

Photo from the movie Son of Saul

I have not seen the film because it has not yet played in the city where I live.  I will finally get to see it in February.

December 31, 2015

“the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 1:53 pm

“Son of Saul” and the Ungraspable Horrors of Auschwitz

The words above are in the headline of a news article which you can read at http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/son-of-saul-and-the-ungraspable-horrors-of-auschwitz

Is ungraspable even a word?

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt in this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/sonderkommando-revolt-holocaust-revenge-video-game/

Brody-Son-of-Saul-1200

Quote from the news article about the film:

In the realm of Holocaust dramas, László Nemes’s first feature, “Son of Saul,” is ambitious and provocative but nearly superfluous. Credit Photograph by Sony Pictures Classics / Courtesy Everett

The title of my blog post comes from the news article which has this quote:

While emptying the gas chamber of bodies, Saul sees a boy who is still breathing; the boy dies moments thereafter, but his body is taken by a camp doctor for autopsy—and Saul, visiting the doctor (who turns out also to be a prisoner), tells him that the boy is his son and that he wants to spend a few minutes with the body. What Saul actually wants is something more drastic and seemingly impossible: he wants to take the body and give it a proper burial. Moreover, for that burial he needs a rabbi, and, making use of his position as a Sonderkommando (which allows him to move not quite freely but at least widely throughout the concentration camp), Saul obsessively searches among Jewish deportees to find one.

But, early in his quest, he happens upon other Sonderkommando members who are organizing an armed uprising to destroy the gas chambers, and they recruit him to that cause. Though Saul never makes his reasoning clear (once, he explains, “I have to eat”), he seems to join the uprising neither from commitment nor to save himself but to win his colleagues’ aid in his efforts to bury his son, and to gain the measure of mobility, as a part of their plot, that will help him to do so.

I wrote about the Sonderkommando revolt on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/Tour/Birkenau/RuinsIV.html

The revolt was the occasion when the Sonderkommando Jews blew up the Krema IV gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

The ruins of Krema IV are a reconstruction

According to Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, in their book entitled The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It? the Krema IV and Krema V buildings were 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

The Krema IV building was completely demolished, blown up with dynamite which several women prisoners stole from the factory where they were working. All the bricks were removed by Polish civilians after the war, and the ruins that visitors see today are a reconstruction, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew. Knowing that they were soon going to be killed, the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building.

A sign at the site of Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

For some unknown reason, the Jews in the last Sonderkommando group were not exterminated.

Around 100 of them were marched out of the camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945. Several members of this Sonderkommando group survived and three of them gave eye-witness testimony at the 1947 trial of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess, about how the prisoners were gassed at Birkenau.

This is my last blog post of 2015.  Happy New Year, everyone.

December 27, 2015

photos taken by Sonderkommando Jews at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:55 am

I have just read a review of the movie Son of Saul which tells about photos, taken at Auschwitz-Birkenau, by the Sonderkommando Jews; the photos show the gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

These photos are shown in the background in the movie as the main characters in the movie are shown in the foreground.

You can read about the movie at

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/film-reviews/holocaust-drama-son-of-saul-a-story-of-remarkable-resilience/article27922380/

The following quote is from the article in the link above:

The film is based on actual accounts of the Sonderkommando’s gruesome role, its members forced to collaborate with the killing machine or be killed, and marked for extermination themselves every three months as “bearers of secrets” who could not be allowed to survive. The photographer was an actual person, identified only as Alex from Greece, who took four images that were smuggled out to the Polish underground.

You can see these photos on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Sonderkommando_photographs

Photo taken by Sonderkommando Jews shows prisoners being herded toward a gas chamber

Photo taken by a Sonderkommando Jew shows prisoners being herded toward a gas chamber

Photo taken from the doorway of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Photo taken from the doorway of a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau shows the burning of bodies

The photos shown above were allegedly taken with a 35 millimeter Leica camera by Sonderkommando Jews.

Four of the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were underground, but there were two gas chambers that were above ground: Krema IV and Krema V.

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau had a gas chamber that was above ground

Krema IV at Auschwitz-Birkenau had a gas chamber that was above ground

This quote is also from the news article:

Begin quote

In Laszlo Nemes’s remarkable Holocaust drama, Son of Saul, there’s a minor character who risks his life secretly taking photographs of the corpses.

[…]

Watching it [the movie] is a harrowing experience, and the first 20 minutes or so are particularly difficult. The film is shot from the narrow perspective – and the narrowness is the only thing that makes it bearable – of Saul Auslander, a Hungarian Jew who works in the Sonderkommando that herds new prisoners into the “showers,” collects the victims’ clothing, moves the bodies to the crematorium and scrubs out the gas chamber before the next transport arrives. We see the reality of this gruesome job slightly out of focus, as though in Saul’s peripheral vision, as the camera always stays tight on Saul’s face. Often the sounds around him, and our own foreknowledge of the place, are what make the half-glimpsed scenes particularly wrenching.

End quote from news article

Note that those mean ole Nazis forced the Jews to “scrub out the gas chamber” after each gassing.  I don’t think that scrubbing the gas chamber was necessary, but this just shows you how depraved the Nazis were.

The following quote is from my scrapbookpages.com website:

Krema IV was located just north of the clothing warehouses, which were in a section that the prisoners called Canada. Across the road from Canada was the Central Sauna which had a shower room and disinfection chambers where the prisoners’ clothing was deloused. Krema IV had a fake shower room which was actually a gas chamber.

According to Michael J. Neufeld and Michael Berenbaum, in their book entitled “The Bombing of Auschwitz: Should the Allies Have Attempted It?” the Krema IV and Krema V buildings were 220 feet long by 42 feet wide.

The Krema IV building was completely demolished, blown up with dynamite which several women prisoners stole from the factory where they were working. All the bricks were removed by Polish civilians after the war, and the ruins that visitors see today are a reconstruction, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

The prisoners who worked in the crematory buildings, removing the bodies of the victims who had been gassed, were members of a special group called the Sonderkommando. According to Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a prisoner who did autopsies at Birkenau, each Sonderkommando group was killed after a few months and replaced by a new crew.

Knowing that they were soon going to be killed, the members of the next-to-last Sonderkommando revolted and blew up the Krema IV building. A sign at Krema IV says that there were 450 prisoners who were killed by the SS during the revolt or afterwards in retaliation.

The men in the last Sonderkommando were not exterminated. Around 100 of them were marched out of the camp when it was abandoned by the Nazis on January 18, 1945. Several members of the Sonderkommando survived and three of them gave eye-witness testimony at the 1947 trial of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoess, about how the prisoners were gassed at Birkenau.

 

December 18, 2015

New Holocaust movie “Son of Saul” is in theaters today

CoverPhoto

Update January 18, 2016:  This news article calls the movie Son of Saul “Jewish Propaganda.”  http://www.jewishpress.com/news/hungarians-denounce-oscar-nominated-son-of-saul-as-jewish-propaganda/2016/01/18/

I greatly admire the photo above which is shown at the top of this news article about the film entitled Son of Saul, which was directed by Laslo Nemes:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/15/movies/in-son-of-saul-laszlo-nemes-expands-the-language-of-holocaust-films.html?_r=0

In preparation for seeing the film, I read about it on the news article cited above.

Photo from the film Son of Saul

Photo from the film Son of Saul

The following quote is from the news article about the film:

In “Son of Saul” Laszlo Nemes Expands the Language of Holocaust Films

“Son of Saul” is filmed in long, restless takes, with no soundtrack besides the grim cacophony of a death camp — the slamming of doors, the sifting through possessions — and is set over the course of a day and a half in October 1944. It follows Saul Auslander, a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the Jews forced to dispose of the human remains from the gas chambers, as he tries to rescue a dead boy’s body from meeting the fate of the ovens.

[…]

The film plays out on the face of Saul, a debut film performance by Geza Rohrig, a Hungarian poet whom Mr. Nemes met while studying at New York University’s film school. During the 28-day shoot, he had Mr. Rohrig rehearse for hours before filming takes, three to four minutes each, with a 35-millimeter camera placed about 20 inches from his face.

“I had to be superfocused, because every little bit of change” mattered, Mr. Rohrig said. “Like on the surface of water — even if you blow the water, you can immediately see, it shows everything.”

Mr. Rohrig, 48, who took a leave from his job teaching Jewish studies at a Brooklyn private school to promote the film, volunteers for a Jewish burial society. He spent months visiting Auschwitz as a student in Poland in the 1980s and wrote a book of poems about it. He said he regarded the Sonderkommando as victims, not perpetrators, adding that they were the only Jews in the camp to understand that they faced certain death and that his acting had to reflect that knowledge.

End quote

December 16, 2015

Only two days before the movie “Son of Saul” is ready to view

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 3:49 pm

You can read a review of the new movie “Son of Saul” at http://www.newsweek.com/review-film-son-saul-takes-unflinching-look-holocaust-405290

This quote is from the article cited above:

Saul is a Sonderkommando, a Jewish inmate compelled to work as slave labor in a death camp. Although the camp in “Son of Saul” has been identified as Auschwitz, it might as well be Treblinka or Belzec or Sobibór or a number of other places. If this is indeed Auschwitz, we are late in World War II, probably the summer or fall of 1944, when the tide of war had turned decisively against Germany and Hitler’s administrators devoted considerable resources to exterminating as many Jews as possible during the time left to them. Of course the Nazi regime had already committed unforgivable war crimes by that time, but one measure of its insanity lies here: Faced with imminent defeat, the Germans did not make the logical decision to abandon the Final Solution and pour all available money and manpower into military counterattack. It would appear they decided that killing Jews was more important than winning the war.

[…]

Is it obscene to consider the gas chambers of Auschwitz as a factory, not inherently unlike one where trousers are sewn or automobiles banged together? (Or where cattle are slaughtered, to take the obvious parallel.) Of course it is, but that was precisely the displacement mechanism that allowed the officers, guards and inmates to move from one day to the next in a semblance of normal behavior. The industrial process in which Saul works is mass murder, to be sure, and its principal output is dead bodies by the thousands, which create an increasingly difficult disposal problem. (The men, women and children to be dragged from the gas chambers are always described as “pieces” by the guards.) As in any industrial process, there are important byproducts as well. One of Saul’s jobs is to pull down and sort all the clothing that new arrivals have hung on hooks before being sent to the “showers,” looking for hidden gold, jewelry and other valuables.

End quote

The clothing of the Jews was hung on hooks before they were gassed?  I set out to find some proof of that.  I found it on my own website: http://www.scrapbookpages.com/AuschwitzScrapbook/History/Articles/Selection3.html

Begin quote from my website scrapbookpages.com

Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz was 18 years old when she was sent from Czechoslovakia to the Birkenau camp in 1943 and tattooed with the number 34042 on her left arm. In a newspaper article in the Salisbury Post, Scott Jenkins reported on a talk that Cernyak-Spatz gave to sixth-graders at Corriher-Lipe Middle School in May 2000. She stressed to the Corriher-Lipe students that the Holocaust was not a single event, but an efficiently conceived and executed process that began “the minute Adolf Hitler came to power” as Germany’s dictator in 1933.

The following quote is from the newspaper article by Scott Jenkins in the Salisbury Post:

So fierce was Hitler’s hatred, trains carrying Jews to the death camps were given priority even over troop trains carrying soldiers to battle, Cernyak-Spatz said. When she stepped off the train and onto the platform at Birkenau, the results assaulted her senses.

“The first thing you noticed was an absolutely incredible stink,” she said. The noxious, sickly sweet odor hung in the air with a dusky vapor billowing from smokestacks and staining the distant sky, she said.

Then, the selection began. The Nazis separated families, those who could work to one side, those who couldn’t to another. The second group loaded onto trucks.

The women on the trucks asked where they were going. Don’t worry the drivers told them, you will be reunited with your families.

After a nice hot shower.

“Then they took them directly in the direction of that smoke,” Cernyak-Spatz said. Soon, those who survived learned what burned in those buildings.

Guards led prisoners into the large buildings, told them to take off their clothes, hang them on hooks. And remember, tie your shoe laces together, they said, so you don’t lose a shoe.

The Nazis had told Jews to dress in their warmest clothes for the journey to the “work” camps, Cernyak-Spatz said. After the gas chambers, they gathered those clothes for their own use.

For the years during the war, “that is how the whole German nation was clothed … in the clothing and property of dead Jews,” she said.

End quote

Hungarian women were given uniforms to wear after putting their clothes on hooks

Hungarian women were given uniforms to wear after putting their own clothes on hooks

 

December 10, 2015

Prepare yourself for a new Holocaust movie in theaters on December 18th

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 7:59 am

You have only one week to prepare yourself for a new block-buster movie coming out in theaters on December 18, 2015. The movie is about the Sonderkommando Jews who burned the bodies of the Jews after they were gassed.

I wrote about this on this previous blog post:  https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/the-gas-chambers-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

You can read about the movie at http://www.jewishlinkbwc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7395:riverdale-resident-shines-in-new-epic-holocaust-film&catid=156:features&Itemid=585

This quote is from the article about the movie:

The film portrays an aspect of the Holocaust that has yet to be explored.

“Two out of three Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in Europe,” explained Rohrig. “Most or all I have seen in movies are always about the lucky third one. These movies are survival tales and we wanted to make a movie not about the exception but the norm and the norm was death.”

It’s true. All we ever hear about are the Jews who survived the Holocaust, not the names of the Jews who were gassed.   The Nazis were no fools — they didn’t keep the names of the Jews who were gassed.

There are still numerous survivors, who are out on the lecture circuit telling their unique stories about how they survived and are still alive today.

The following quote is from the news article:

Begin quote

Son of Saul, being released in the United States on December 18th, is like no other Holocaust film. Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the film continues to wow critics, as it tells the story of Saul Auslander, who has the dubious distinction of being part of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz.

“Their lives were way more difficult than those of the prisoners,” Röhrig, who prefers to be called Rafi, told The Jewish Link. “They were recruited upon their arrival at Auschwitz. The Nazis promised them a better life, told them they would live in a heated area but they didn’t give them any advance notice or an accurate job description.”

That job was to usher unknowing victims into the gas chambers and after their deaths, readying the room for the next group to be annihilated.

“They would separate the inter-tangled bodies, search them for valuables, cut the women’s hair, burn the bodies, pulverize the bigger bones that were still somewhat intact, take the ashes and dispose of them in the river,” said Röhrig. “The crematorium did not stop. There were day shifts. There were night shifts. And then every four months, they themselves were gassed.”   End quote

Wait a minute!  The Nazis threw ashes into a river at Auschwitz?  I don’t think so!  The Nazis were all about preserving the environment, even before this became popular.

The Sola river that runs through the town of Auschwitz

The Sola river that runs through the town of Auschwitz

The SS men swam in the river that runs through the town of Auschwitz.  People in the town washed their clothes in this river.  Do you really think that Hitler would have allowed the ashes of millions of Jews to contaminate the rivers?

I previously blogged about the disposal of the ashes at Auschwitz-Birkenau at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/where-are-the-ashes-of-the-1-1-million-people-killed-at-auschwitz-birkenau/

 

September 18, 2015

Movie entitled “Son of Saul” in theaters Dec. 18, 2015

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 10:55 am
Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder

Photo from Wikipedia shows Sonderkommando Jews with a bone grinder.

According to Wikipedia:

Sonderkommandos were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed almost entirely of Jews who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust.

The following Sonderkommandos survived the Holocaust:  Zalman Gradowski, Filip Müller, Henryk Tauber, Leib Langfus, Morris Venezia, Henryk Mandelbaum [Saul Ausländer is a fictional character]

Photo of Dachau Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau

Photo of Sonderkommando shoving a body into an oven at Dachau is an re-enactment, done after Dachau was libertated

A photo similar to the one above is included in the news story and it is purported to be a real photo of a Sonderkommando Jew shoving a body into an oven.

The following information, about the movie entitled Son of Saul, is from the movie review website known as “Rotten Tomatoes”.

October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the corpse of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkomando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and …
Rating: R (for disturbing violent content, and some graphic nudity)
Genre: Drama
In Theaters: Dec 18, 2015 Limited
Runtime: 1 hr. 47 min.
Sony Pictures Classics

You can read the following review of the movie on this website:

Son of Saul

Based on the experience of a Hungarian Jew held in a concentration camp during the Second World War, Son of Saul follows a man who has the harrowing job of leading prisoners into the showers where they will be executed and cleaning up afterwards by shovelling their remains into the river.

Shaken by the death of one young boy, he is driven to give him a proper Jewish burial. Featuring superb acting on all levels, director Laszlo Nemes takes us right into the camp through a unique use of surround sound and filming in 35mm. 5 out of 5 stars. – Sian Jones, producer.

Among the horrors of the Holocaust, the Nazis assigned so-called Sondercommandos a peculiarly dehumanizing job: to herd fellow inmates into gas chambers and dispose of their bodies. Saul is one such man, his face an effigy of pain. When he believes he’s found his own son among the dead, his humanity is restored as he attempts to give the boy a proper burial.

Much of the film lingers on Saul’s face, leaving the most lurid shots out of focus: an interesting directorial choice that avoids a fetishistic lingering on the bodies of victims that still allows viewers to feel the full oppressiveness of his situation. A powerful, devastating film. 5 out of 5 stars. – Deana Sumanac-Johnson, reporter.

======

I am looking forward to seeing this movie in December.  I will write a review of the movie after I see it. You can be sure that I will have a lot of criticism of this movie.

May 22, 2015

“how Europe killed itself, committed suicide.” is the theme of a new film by Laslo Nemes

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 10:10 am
Laslo Nemes (photo credit Getty Images)

Laslo Nemes (photo credit Getty Images)

The title of my blog post is a quote from a news article which you can read in full here.

Today, I am writing about a new film, made by Laslo Nemes, that is entitled Son of Saul. The film is about the Holocaust, but you would never know it from this title.

Unfortunately, I think that most Americans will be immediately reminded of the TV series entitled Better Call Saul.

The movie Son of Saul is about the Sonderkommando Jews, who helped the Nazis in the death camps by removing the bodies from the gas chambers and putting them into the cremation ovens.

I recently blogged about one of the Sonderkommando Jews on this blog post: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/sonderkommando/

This quote is from the news article about the movie Son of Saul:

“… the film, which has been picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, has started a debate about whether the Sonderkommando were victims or perpetrators, and what it means to focus on one man’s life.

According to the news article: At a news conference here last week, Mr. Rohrig, a Hungarian poet who lives in New York, tapped into a longstanding debate about whether the Sonderkommando were victims or perpetrators. “They were 100 percent victims,” he said. “They had no control of their destinies.”

This quote is also from the news article:

In an interview here on Tuesday, Mr. Nemes, 38, said he welcomed the debate and intended the film to start a conversation. “Since the end of the Second World War I’ve seen very clearly that many people more or less consider the Holocaust as a mythical story and approached it probably from a defensive mechanism, as a way to get away from it through survival stories,” he said.

The following quote is also from the news article.

He continued, “I don’t think Auschwitz and the extermination of the European Jews was about survival. It was about death. And how Europe killed itself, committed suicide.” Mr. Nemes said he had always been frustrated by a more conventional approach to the Holocaust — one best exemplified by Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” that focuses on the victims. In “Son of Saul,” Mr. Nemes said he wanted to “reduce the distance” between the viewer and Saul to show the character’s moral complexity.