January 27, 2015 marks the 70 year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and International Holocaust Remembrance day. With many of the survivors getting older, for some this may be the last year to commemorate the horrors and loss. Here are some moving pictures of the commemorations from around the world:
UNITED KINGDOM : Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger, aged 84 looks at one of only 70 special candles commissioned to mark 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
KRAKOW, POLAND: (L-R) 81-year-old Paula Lebovics, 79-year-old Miriam Ziegler, 85-year-old Gabor Hirsch and 80-year-old Eva Kor pose with the original image of them as children taken at Auschwitz at the time of its liberation.
OSWIECIM, POLAND: Members of an association of Auschwitz survivors, including one showing a medal given to Polish former concentration camp prisoners, depart after laying wreaths at the execution wall at Auschwitz concentration camp .
Oswiecim, Poland:Polish born oldest known Holocaust survivor and Yehuda Widawski, from Tel Aviv, arrives at a tent build in front of the entrance of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
PARIS, FRANCE: Francois Hollande with Auschwitz survivor Ida Grinspan speaks with five Jews deported and five young French Jews.
LIMA, PERU: Hirsz Litmanowiczin, octogenarian Auschwitz survivor, where he was a messenger of Josef Mengele, and who emigrated to Peru in 1952 , believes that religion and economics have become the engine of intolerance 70 years after the Holocaust.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL: Young Israeli soldiers at Yad VaShem on International Holocaust Memorial Day.
“The Last of the Unjust” is at once a documentary on the Holocaust, a character portrait, an inquiry into the nature of evil, a rumination on drawing moral distinctions, and a lesson on the pedagogical limits of film. This well over three-hour documentary, directed — or should we say “constructed”? — by Claude Lanzmann, whose nine-and-a-half-hour “Shoah” of 1985 set the bar impossibly high for anyone foolish enough to take on the same subject, is an adjunct to that earlier project. In “The Last of the Unjust,” Lanzmann takes a massive amount of interview footage with one Viennese rabbi, Benjamin Murmelstein, originally intended for “Shoah,” and uses it to home in on this particular Jew caught up in the ethical quagmire of the concentration camps.
In this case, the “camp” is the model village Theresienstadt, the former Czech garrison Terezin, “given to the Jews” by Hitler, but used for propaganda purposes such that the International Red Cross was taken in by the elaborate subterfuge. As a Nazi “public relations” film of the period shows, Theresienstadt was populated by happy, well fed children playing games, vigorous Jewish athletes engaged in a soccer match around a large inner courtyard for the pleasure of a packed “house,” and talented Jewish musicians performing symphonic music for the interned masses. Factory workers industriously produced goods for the self-sufficient village, and so purposeful and idealistic are the looks on all of these Jewish faces, one wonders if Leni Riefenstahl could have produced any more invigorating picture of Jews as their own master race. Indeed, in this piece of twisted propaganda, Theresienstadt is made to appear a homeland for which any Jew would seek to make aliyah.
But Lanzmann’s film does not provide a historical reconstruction of the town itself; instead, in a week’s worth of interviews conducted in 1975 with Murmelstein, the third Jewish elder to have administrated the town, and thus a man at the will and whim of the Nazis, Lanzmann forces us to measure the guilt or innocence of a Jewish “collaborator” — one of those Jewish elders whom Hannah Arendt fingered with contempt.
French documentary filmmaker and producer Claude Lanzmann will be honored at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, where he spoke about filming his famous “Shoah” documentary.
Lanzmann, 87, was expected to receive an Honorary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement on Thursday evening.
“I was happy, I was moved and I was proud,” Lanzmann told some 200 people who gathered for a conversation between the filmmaker and German film historian Ulrich Gregor the day before the award ceremony.
Lanzmann became famous for his 10-hour, 13-minute documentary, “Shoah,” which was released in 1985 and took about 11 years to make. A digital restoration of the film was shown at the festival, which began Feb. 7 and runs through Feb. 17.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Lanzmann recalled how he had tricked old Nazis into giving him interviews. He said that a turning point in the filmmaking came when he set foot in the Polish village of Treblinka, where the death camp was located. Nearly 1 million Jews were gassed there, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“I could not admit that a village called Treblinka with people living inside it could exist, Lanzmann recalled. “But it did exist.”
Claude Lanzmann, director of the film “Shoah,” has been busy of late. In February, his documentary, “Karski Report,” about how a Polish resistance fighter tried to warn American officials of the Holocaust as it was happening, was released on DVD. Also in February, Lanzmann, who will turn 87 on November 27, encountered some resistance on his own, when he gave a female security guard at the Tel Aviv airport what he called “one accolade around her shoulders – in English, a hug.” This resulted in Lanzmann’s being arrested and finger-printed for alleged sexual harassment.
Undeterred — in March, the[New Statesman described Lanzmann as a truculent rugbyman, a “French prop-forward of the old school - barrel-chested, florid-nosed and with no discernible neck” – Lanzmann’s hyper-energetic creative life continued with the release of the English-language version of his The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir, while Gallimard published a collection of Lanzmann’s articles from 1958 to 2007 “Tomb of the Heavenly Diver.” Its title refers to a 2,500-year-old painted tomb uncovered in 1968 outside Paestum, Greece. Showing an athletic diver throwing himself into a void, the image struck a chord with Lanzmann, who added the word “Heavenly” to what is generally known as “Tomb of the Diver.”
Last week, the Forward reported that Turkey had selected a young Jewish pop singer as its representative to 2012’s Eurovision music competition — an oblique gesture of musical détente at a time of frosty relations between Israel and Turkey.
Now, in a very different kind of cultural milestone, Turkish state television network TRT has announced it will air Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary “Shoah” on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
According to the Aladdin Project, whose web site describes its mission as “building bridges of knowledge between Muslims and Jews,” the January 26 airing marks the first broadcast of “Shoah” in a Muslim country. The Aladdin Project helped make the broadcast possible by subtitling “for the first time in Turkish, Arabic and Persian the nine-hour-plus documentary on the extermination of European Jews,” a press release noted.
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