Synopsis: Claude Lanzmann directed this 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since they only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing by asking for the most minute details is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects themselves show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive and well in many people who still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere.
Director(s): Claude Lanzmann
Production: IFC Films
  14 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
566 min


[Srebnik Singing In Polish]

A little white house

Lingers in my memory;

Of that little white house

I dream each night;

The windows of that little house

Beautifully shine in the sun

As if someone's eyes

Were filling with tears

There was so much happiness

in that little house

And so many joyous days

When I remember

those blissful moments

My heart trembles

A little white house

Lingers in my memory;

Of that little white house

I dream each night;

[ Man #1 Speaking Polish]

- [ Man #2 Speaking Polish]

- [ Man #1 Continues ]

[ Female Interpreter, In French]

He was 13 1/2 years old.

He had a lovely singing voice

and we heard him.

A little white house

Lingers in my memory;

Of that little white house

I dream each night;

The windows of that little house

Beautifully shine in the sun

As if someone's eyes

Were filling with tears

[ Man #3 Speaking Polish]

[ Interpreter, In French]

When I heard him again, my heart beat faster,

because what happened

here... was a murder.

I really relived what happened.

[ Sighs, Coughs ]

[ In German]

it's hard to recognize, but it was here.

They burned people here.

A lot of people were burned here.

Yes, this is the place.

[ Crow Caws ]

No one ever left here again.

The gas vans came in here...

There were two huge ovens,

[ Sighs ]

And afterward,

the bodies were thrown

into these ovens,

and the flames reached to the sky.

- [ Lanzmann, In German ] To the sky?

- Ja.

It was terrible.

No one can describe it.

No one can...

recreate what happened here.


And no one can understand it.

Even I, here, now.

I can't believe I'm here.

No, I just can't believe it.

It was always this peaceful here.

When they burned 2,000 people...

Jews... every day,

it was just as peaceful.

No one shouted.

Everyone went about his work.

It was silent. Peaceful.

Just as it is now.

[ Srebnik Singing In German]

[Cattle Lowing ]

You, girl, don't you cry;

Don't be so sad

For the dear summer is nearing

And I'll return with it

A mug of red wine, a slice of roast

That's what the girls

give their soldiers

[ Continues ]

When the soldiers march along

The girls open their doors and windows

[ Continues ]

[ Man #1 Speaking Polish]

[ Interpreter, In French] They thought

the Germans made him sing on the river.

- [ Man #2 Speaking Polish]

- [ Man #3 Speaking Polish]

He was a toy to amuse them.

- [ Man #2 Continues]

- He had to do it.

He sang, but his heart wept.

[ Lanzmann, In French]

Do their hearts weep thinking about that now?

- [ Men Reply]

- [ Interpreter] Certainly, very much so.

[ Man #2 Continues]

They still talk about it

around the family table.

[ Man #2 Continues]

It was public, so everyone knew of it.

I Polish 1

[ Interpreter]

He said that was true German irony,

people were being killed,

and he had to sing.

That's what I thought.

[ Lanzmann ]

What died in him in Chelmno?

[Speaking Yiddish ]

[ Female Interpreter #2, In French]

Everything died.

But he's only human,

and he wants to live.

So he must forget.

The other survivor:


[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]

He thanks God for what remains

and that he can forget.

And let's not talk about that.

[ Lanzmann ]

Does he think it's good to talk about it?

[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]

For me it's not good.

[ Lanzmann]

Then why is he talking about it?

[ Interpreter #2 Speaking Yiddish ]

Because you're insisting on it.

He was sent books on the Eichmann trial,

where he was a witness,

and he didn't even read them.

[ Lanzmann]

He survived, but is he really alive, or...?

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Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann (French: [lanzman]; 27 November 1925 – 5 July 2018) was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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    "Shoah" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 26 Sep. 2020. <>.

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