John Demjanjuk has died.
Reuters: “Former Nazi guard Demjanjuk dies in Germany aged 91”
BBC: “Nazi camp guard Demjanjuk dies”
Al Jazeera: “Nazi camp guard Demjanjuk dies in Germany”
NYT: “John Demjanjuk, 91, Dogged by Charges of Atrocities as Nazi Camp Guard, Dies”
NYT: Why so circuitous?
Jerusalem Post editorial here.
And, relatedly, a fascinating New Yorker review by Richard Brody of Claude Lanzmann’s autobiography, including discussions of the making of Shoah.
Lanzmann got hold of a paluche, or paw, a slender, stick-like video camera.… [and] hid it in a bag with a tiny hole for the lens, and had one of his cameramen point it at an unsuspecting interview subject. He hid a small microphone behind his tie.… ‘What qualms should I have about misleading Nazi murderers?’ Lanzmann recently told Der Spiegel. ‘Weren’t the Nazis themselves masters of deception?’ He believed that his ruses served the higher good of revealing the truth – and perhaps accomplished symbolic acts of resistance after the fact. As he explained in 1985, ‘I’m killing them with the camera.’…
“Lanzmann repudiates the use of the term ‘documentary’ for ‘Shoah,’ claiming that the film ‘defies and eludes the categories of documentary or fiction.’… Although the testimony in ‘Shoah’ is authentic, many of its scenes are staged. To film [Abraham] Bomba, the retired barber who had cut hair at Treblinka, Lanzmann got him to borrow a chair in a working barbershop and pretend to cut a friend’s hair while telling the story – and Lanzmann maintains that, while cutting his friend’s hair, Bomba ‘became an actor.’ In Poland, Lanzmann rented a steam locomotive for a conductor to drive on the same tracks along which, four decades earlier, he had pushed freight cars filled with Jewish captives.…
“Lanzmann calls ‘Shoah’ ‘a fiction of the real,’ and says that he was imagining himself as much into the minds and the souls of the killers as the victims. He was aware of the moral risks he was taking, but he believed he was obeying ‘the categorical imperative of the search for and the transmission of truth’ and making a work of ‘beauty.’ At the time of the film’s release, Lanzmann said, ‘I believe very deeply that art and morality are identical. I didn’t try to make a document but a real movie, and I wanted it to be beautiful,’ in order to ‘make the unbearable bearable.’ The result was a resounding response to Adorno’s assertion that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.’”
The whole thing is worth reading.