The last of the unjust

The last of the unjust

Le dernier des injustes

DVD - 2014 | French
Average Rating:
4
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Rating: PG-13.
In 1975 Rome, Claude Lanzmann filmed a series of interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia, the only 'Elder of the Jews' not to have been killed during the war. From Nisko in Poland to Theresienstadt, and from Vienna to Rome, the film provides an unprecedented insight into the genesis of the Final Solution. It reveals the true face of Eichmann.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : [Publisher not identified], [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
Characteristics: video file,DVD video,rda
laser optical,NTSC,rda
digital,optical,rda
2 videodiscs (235 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in
Alternative Title: Dernier des injustes

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v
villekulla
Dec 14, 2015

A subtle and disturbing film that expands the difficulty of understanding and discerning between "the ambiguity of virtue" and "the banality of evil". To explore this issue more deeply consider reading Arendt, Frankl, Wasserstein, King, and, of course, Harriet Beecher Stowe.

AQUILEA777 (Oct 02, 2015 below) sounds like a Nazi apologist. "Holocaust publicists"? "Holocaust -exaggeration"? Really now. "Reasonably comfortable lives for themselves"? Compared to what, Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen?
I bet AQUILEA also would agree that "hell, slavery ain't so bad - it's better than being lynched or being sent off to prison".

Blacks in the Mississippi Delta, Chicago's South Side, Harlem, and other American ghettos also have a history of creating rich social/cultural lives. In fact these are the cradles of American Blues, Jazz and Rock and Roll. And the fact that only SOME Black people get sent to the American prototypes of Auschwitz (Attica, Huntsville, San Quentin, Angola...), where by the way, we have the distinction of holding 25% of the world's prison population, which is about 1% of the U.S. population, wherein the "circumstances of this punishment" are often enough based on offenses which are desperate attempts to survive. There is of course no "arbitrary cruelty" when the punishment is for resisting, running away, or obfuscating in order to protect one's self or one's kind. "Just stop resisting!"

The accomplishments and ability to find comfort for their souls in no way diminishes the suffering and misery that has been and continues to be perpetrated and experienced in these places by violent racist oppression. Many Blacks also escaped the Delta (with some returning "voluntarily") which is by no means evidence of them being "allowed to make reasonably comfortable lives for themselves". Not all enslaved Blacks and their progeny have gotten murdered, lynched, beaten, raped, shot, tortured or assailed by dogs and water cannons. In fact, no doubt some have at times been allowed to have their bags graciously carried by their young ones or even were kindly treated like "pets" ...or maybe like "pink poodles". That ambiguity does not diminish the terror and banality of the evil that was and continues to be inflicted on people trapped by human predators.

a
AQUILEA777
Oct 01, 2015

Holocaust publicists despise Theresienstadt, a Nazi facility where Jews were allowed to make reasonably comfortable lives for themselves. They would rather deny the many achievements of Theresienstadt Jews than compromise their thesis of Jewish suffering everywhere.

Lanzmann's speeches denouncing the ghetto are typical of this misrepresentation. New arrivals were not assailed by dogs, but greeted by Jewish teens who carried their bags. People were not afraid to converse; there was a rich social/cultural life.

The residents were not closely watched and several hundred escaped. (Some returned voluntarily.) The first Jewish Elder filed reports showing escapees still present. When this was discovered, he was sent to Auschwitz. Lanzmann omits the circumstances of this punishment. Other background information is omitted to convey a false impression of arbitrary cruelty.

Lanzmann dwells on the cremation ovens as proof of evil. But many Americans choose cremation today and such ovens are common. A high number of residents were over 70, so of course there were deaths.

In the last years of the War, Theresienstadt Jews were better off than Germans in the bombed cities -- as long as they stayed in Theresienstadt. Their one great anxiety was being sent away. There was a continuing influx and corresponding outflow. Most were sent on to Auschwitz, but others stayed in Theresienstadt throughout the War.

Murmelstein, the last Jewish Elder ("the Last of the Unjust" as he mockingly called himself), was blamed as a collaborator because he energetically improved the facility and thus helped the Nazis show it off to Red Cross inspectors. Why should the residents not benefit from improvements? The inspections made sure the defeated Nazis would not liquidate the ghetto. They finally turned it over to the Red Cross.

The film includes footage of Theresienstadt activities and views of the sturdy 18th Century masonry buildings decades later -- empty and worn but still picturesque.

For positive recollections of Theresienstadt by former residents, see my comments to THE GIRLS OF ROOM 28, and THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR.

For more on Theresienstadt, see also my comments to FIREFLIES IN THE DARK, I NEVER SAW ANOTHER BUTTERFLY, and A CENTURY OF WISDOM. The last two books are bad examples of Holocaust-exaggeration.

u
uncommonreader
Sep 13, 2015

Unfortunately, not sub-titled.

s
Sharpnre
Nov 05, 2014

This film is an eerie account of the actions/experiences of Murmelstein and the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

No one except Murmelstein will ever really know his true motives as he worked with Eichmann and the Gestapo. In some ways he was forced, but also his actions may have saved some victims from the gas chambers. Did the power go to his head? In such a dark time, one wonders what even ourselves are capable of as the flesh fights to survive.

The Holocaust was clearly one of the worst actions of man against man in our history. This film is troubling, but eye opening.

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