The 1985 Franco-British documentary Shoah is in my experience the closest a film can possibly come to a representation of what Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma went through at the hands of the Nazis. One memory from watching the whole 9 hours of interviews with survivors, camp officers, locals living around the concentration camps was the testimonial giving by a barber from the local town who found himself cutting the hair of his friends and colleagues from his own town as the passed into the shower rooms. They were forced naked up a muddy hill, enclosed by fences, even in the middle of winter with snow on the ground, with the gas chamber and crematorium ovens waiting at the top of the hill. The smell of shit as people couldn’t control themselves in the face of their own death. The worst thing for the people who survived was that nobody could understand what they had gone through. It is impossible to really know but I think we owe it to them to at least try.


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