Anyechka | Rensselaer, NY United States | 09/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No film or documentary could ever fully cover the enormity of the Shoah, everything that went on, every last aspect, but this one really hits the mark on the area of the Shoah it chose to focus on. This three-part documentary focuses on Oswiecim-Brzezinka (Auschwitz-Birkenau) in general and on the inner-workings of the camp, the blueprints for genocide, in particular. There are interviews with people who were actually there (on both sides), multiple historical re-enactments, pictures, documents, diagrams, blueprints, plenty of narration, you name it. We start from the beginning, the seeds that led to genocide and the first baby steps towards it (euthanising the mentally ill in Germany), to the creation of the camp and some of its first victims, such as the orphaned French children (prior to early 1942 the camp had only housed male Polish political prisoners and criminals), and finally to the period of the camp's highest murder rate, the arrival of Hungarian Jewry starting in May of 1944, through to liberation, what happened to the survivors, how some of the people in charge were caught and brought to justice, and how some, such as Mengele, were never. We also get, along the way, information about some of the other death camps, such as Treblinka, and how that camp did not start out as a model camp (it was run so "inefficiently," not enough people murdered quickly enough and then disposed of in a quick and speedy matter, that the person running the camp, "Dr." Irmfried Eberl, was dismissed). Also included are episodes about how the power corrupted many of the Nazis running or working at the camp, sometimes leading to intrigue. It was also a welcome change of pace for there to be a segment on the notorious sadistic Irma Grese (who was hanged for crimes against humanity shortly after the War); too often all these kinds of books and documentaries talk about are male Nazis, when history shows that there were a number of women, such as Grese, who were equally cold, brutal, top-ranking, and sadistic. The extras are also very good, featuring some very insightful interviews with a variety of people, on topics such as why genocide is still allowed to occur, what we have learnt from the Shoah, and young peoples' reactions to the documentary."
R. E. Schalkx | Utrecht, The Netherlands | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent BBC production on Auschwitz. Rees has managed to produce a series of programs aimed at a broad audience, but with a strong academic foundation. He avoids simple moral judgments by hearing different eyewitnesses, such as victims, perpetrators and bystanders. The series uses different kinds of sources, virtual reality and it uses actors to portray some of the key Nazis in the decision making process.It describes the history of the camp, but it does so much more. Individual stories bring the story to life without ever becoming over-emotional.It also pays attention to the importance of local decisions and sentiments for the fate of millions of people, such as local anti-Semitism but also rescue operations. Rees' series is not just on Auschwitz, it is a story of Europe and the Holocaust. In the last episode he even tells the story of the return of victims of the camp to their home country and the cold welcome they received.Personally I found the testimony of the former SS man who had worked in Auschwitz very telling. Rees is a brave man for portraying this man in his moral ambivalence.
Strongly recommended. Also suitable for use in schools and education. It is also a far better introduction to the Holocaust than Lanzmann's film Shoah."
Remarkable - A must see for anyone with an interest in the H
P. Sekhri | San Francisco | 10/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful documentary profiling the worst period since humans have been on this planet. Linda Hunt is a perfect choice for narrator - the rare footage and computer-enhanced graphics only add to the value of this special DVD. A horrific time, presented as factually as possible. Bravo! Everyone should see this - it should be used in all schools as an educational tool and a warning to all."