Two men who told the truth about Auschwitz

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The Auschwitz report describes a fascinating chapter in Holocaust history, the escape of two Slovak Jews from this extermination camp, who provided some of the most detailed accounts of the slaughter that was taking place and, just as importantly, impressed officials that they were credible witnesses.

The film isn’t easy to watch, but it tells a relatively little-known story with haunting imagery, top-notch acting, and a sleek script that avoids clichés.

The film will be released on September 24th in a number of US theaters as well as on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu-FandangoNow, and a number of cable and satellite VOD services. In Israel, the film was acquired by Yes, although no release date has been announced.

The film directed by Peter Bebjak was Slovakia’s official selection for the Oscar for best international feature film in 2021.

It plays Noel Czuczor as Alfred Wetzler and Peter Ondrejicka as Rudolf Vrba, two Jews deported to Auschwitz in 1942 who were obsessed with telling the world the story of the horrors of the death camps.

They kept a record of the carnage by taking notes and remembering the numbers as best they could. In 1944, after months of planning and the help of their fellow inmates, who risked death and torture to help them, they made their seemingly futile attempt.

This film follows the recent trend of realistic Holocaust films.

A scene from Schindler’s List (Credit: AMBLIN PARTNERS)

In Holocaust films like Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Tim Blake Nelson’s The Gray Zone, which are in English and feature well-known actors, you constantly distance those two elements from the on-screen reality (you may be reminded that Liam Neeson took part in the Side of Mia. Plays Farrow in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives Watching Schindler’s List or David Arquette as the clumsy cop investigating a serial killer in Scream while watching The Gray Zone) and dampen the effects to the point of absurdity.

The bar on Holocaust films was raised significantly with the 2015 release of Son of Saul by László Nemes, which told a harrowing story of the Sonderkommando, showing every aspect in full color and in great detail.

In the Auschwitz report, as in Son of Saul, all the characters speak in the languages ​​they would have actually used: German in conversation with the guards and their own languages ​​with each other, including Slovak, Czech and Polish, which adds immeasurably to the feeling of realism. The fact that Noel Czuczor and Peter Ondrejicka are not well-known names outside of Slovakia also helps.

And again like Son of Saul, The Auschwitz Report is not shot like an art-house film with carefully arranged shadows and slow plots, but is an action film that shows the uninterrupted activity of the death camp machine and the minute by minute threat to the prisoners in the work detail.

When you see how cruelty and inhumanity play out, you can understand why Alfred and Rudolf, young and healthy prisoners who were more likely than most others to be able to survive, took the enormously risky step of orchestrating their escape in which Knowing that they had those left behind would pay the price.

What sets this film apart from virtually every other Holocaust film are the scenes in which you face a British Red Cross official (John Hannah) who accepts the DRC version of events and believes that prisoners are treated well and do not believe can what they have written in their report. The two main characters stand out for these scenes by trying to use logic to convince this recalcitrant bureaucrat who knows that if he admits he was betrayed by the Nazis, he was complicit in their crimes and what Worse still, he will now be forced to act. It’s hard to stop yourself from yelling at the screen while clinging to the official German version of the events. The calm dignity of the fugitives, who convince him by all means, demands great respect.

Although the report was handed over to officials and eventually to the press, it did not result in the bombing of the death camps as Wetzler and Vrba had hoped, but eventually disrupted some of the mass deportations of Hungarian Jews that saved lives towards the end of the war, such as various Historians report.

The film itself may have had some impact on the Slovak government. Earlier this month, she finally apologized formally for the “Jewish Code” laws that robbed Jews of rights during World War II, 80 years after they were passed. The government said in a statement that it “has a moral obligation today to publicly express its grief over the crimes of the past regime.”

The Auschwitz Report is a film strong enough to make it seem plausible that it could have had real influence. It is a must-see for anyone interested in on-screen displays of the Holocaust.


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