The Holocaust on Film

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In 1978, the four part miniseries The Holocaust aired to some 120 million people in the United States, and the following year to some 20 million people in West Germany, a third of its population. Public interest and debate on the Holocaust’s place in collective memory skyrocketed, speaking to the power of film and television in representing the Holocaust. The use of film to tell Holocaust stories continues in a variety of forms, from Oscar winning drama Schindler’s List (1993) to Amazon Prime’s dark comedy HUNTERS (2020). But how exactly should the Holocaust be represented on film, if it even should be at all? This week, we will discuss the complexities of Holocaust representation on screen by viewing László Nemes’s 2015 Son of Saul and reading an article by Barry Langford on representations of the Sonderkommando in Son of Saul and The Grey Zone (2001).

Son of Saul, directed by László Nemes, 2015. (Available in the Taylor Library for free or can be viewed online).

Barry Langford, “‘We Did Something’: Framing Resistance in Cinematic Depictions of the Sonderkommando” in Testimonies of Resistance: Representations of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Sonderkommando, edited by Nicholas Chare and Dominic Williams, (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2019), p. 287-306.