What should one watch if one wants to know about Nuremberg? Which films best capture the essence of the tribunal? Famed film aficionado Lydia Maslova has prepared a unique list of films to accompany the “Nuremberg: Casus Pacis” project. We continue with our series, publishing her recommendations twice a week – the greatest films about the war and its aftermath, from the famous and award-winning, to the niche, but important and meaningful ones.
‘Auschwitz’ (2011, Germany)
Director: Uwe Boll
Starring: Uwe Boll, Steffen Mennekes, Arved Birnbaum
At the beginning of Uwe Boll’s historical reconstruction of Auschwitz as a death factory where people were killed as easily as pigs, chickens, or cows, the director explains his desire to make a film in a way completely different to previous films about Auschwitz that showed characters planning to kill Hitler or people who helped Jews: “I wanted to show Auschwitz as it was, without the epics of ‘Schindler's List’ and the heroic pathos of people who had resisted the Nazis”.
The film portrays the SS men who work at Auschwitz: they drink schnapps to their wives' health and talk about their children, discussing production issues with a terrifyingly business-like calm, as if they were talking about an ordinary factory: “Bieler doesn't want to shoot the babies, the burners on the second and third ovens are broken, we've ordered new ones and they haven't arrived yet...”
The director used newsreel footage depicting Hitler with children – it was edited into interviews that Uwe Boll made with contemporary German high school students who tried to articulate their view on the Holocaust, sometimes naïve, sometimes clearly imposed by adults, but psychologically even more interesting than the director's reconstruction of Auschwitz.