For January we will continue a look at Holocaust documentaries. This documentary is called We Shall Not Die Now. The task of the survivors is to tell their tale to ensure that this does not happen again. They want to strengthen the dignity and strength of human life. This is a longer documentary: an hour and forty minutes and is broken up into different sections. This will make it easy to break up if showing in the classroom.
This documentary was created by a nineteen-year-old filmmaker, Ashton Gleckman. He worked hard to film the survivors and worked with the various memorials set up to remember the Holocaust. This documentary also uses previously unseen footage from the Lanzmann family.
This documentary features the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust. They bring in historians to bring in context to what the Jews were facing. The Nazis rose to power and the survivors recall what happened as they watched what happened. Some managed to flee Germany, however, others were caught and sent to concentration camps. They talk about the systems in place that allowed for the easy transportation of Jews to death camps.
The first part of the documentary dives into the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. It is called the “Dawn of Genocide.” Hitler exploited Germany’s feelings about the loss of World War I. The historians point out that Hitler meant what he said and he said that he was meant. The Holocaust survivors recall their feelings about watching what happened. They talk about the neighbors who betrayed them and how home did not feel like home anymore.
Hitler projected all of Germany’s ills on the Jews and ordinary people lapped it up. Then the final solution was unleashed. The Jews had to be cut out of the world. They started small concentration camps and then after the Nazis invaded Poland. They started the ghettos and would build even bigger concentration camps. Now the Germans produced a well-oiled assembly line for the murder of Jews.
Then the Nazis betrayed the Russians. Operation Barbarossa was launched. They broke all the rules of war when it came to the Russians. The Nazis were going to go after the soldiers and civilians. They had orders to kill Jews, men, women, and children. Mobile death squads were formed. Annihilation was the strategy behind this mindset. They killed nearly two million people this way.
This caused the Nazis to switch tactics. Instead of going out to kill people, they would transport the Jews to stationary killing stations. Here they would be gassed in vans. The exhaust from the vans would be pumped into the back killing the people inside. They would then be buried in mass graves. Eventually, these gas vans would turn into gas chambers.
The second part of this documentary is about liquidation and deportation. The survivors had a feeling something was going to happen. The deportations broke families apart and became imprinted on the memories of the survivors. One survivor talks about the trains. The cattle cars used for transportation were hell on earth for these people. People died on these trains even before they got to the camps. The death camps were situated on railroad lines so the Nazis could transport their victims easier.
Just watch this documentary, because I cannot say what I routinely say when it comes to my reviews. Just watch this documentary. This would be an excellent documentary to show in a class on the Holocaust. It brings in both survivors and historians. The survivors recall their harrowing stories of survival from the ghettos to the concentration camps. There were times that this documentary was hard to watch. So I would recommend showing this particular documentary to a class on the Holocaust.
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