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November 08, 1985 - Image 54

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-11-08

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Friday, November 8, 1985


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r ti i m


An historic drama keeps un-
folding at the Cinema Studio
Theater in New York. A single
word on the marquee proclaims:
Shoah. Those filling the lines
for tickets for a single perform-
ance, at $19, are repeaters. They
see the first four-and-a-half
hours one day and return four
days later, for an additional $10
admission, to witness the bal-
ance of the nine-and-a-half hour
It is more than a repeated
drama. It is a massive recollec-
tion of the annihilation which is
generally termed Holocaust.
Pantheon Books published the
text of Shoah simultaneously
under the revealing title. To-

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rilhilt.111t , 11

Claude Lanzmann

gether, the experience is the
witnessing of tears dried up, of
hearts rendered asunder.
The Hebrew dictionary has
additional translations for
shoah: devastation, ruin, desola-
tion, waste, catastrophe ...
Such is the theme that
emerges from the agonies repre-
sented in the creative labors of
Claude Lanzmann. He labored
for ten years to gather the facts.
He traveled back and forth
through 14 countries to inter-
view the survivors who are the
witnesses in Shoah, the book
and the film. There is nothing to
compare with it, and the tears
that were drawn by the hun-
dreds of books on the Holocaust
are multiplied in the Lanzmann
Therefore, it has earned the
accolade as the greatest film di-
rectory ever produced.
Simone de Beauvir wrote the
preface to the book and she

The entrance to Auschwitz.

properly alerts the reader: "Af-

ter the war we read„ masses of
accounts of the ghettoes and the
extermination camps, and we
were devastated. But when, to-
day, we see Claude Lanzmann's
extraordinary film, we realize
we have understood nothing. In
spite of everything we knew, the
ghastly experience remained
remote from us. Now, for the
first time, we live it in our
minds, and hearts and flesh."
A constant urging for creation
of oral histories as means of re-
taining historical facts achieves
the near-ultimate in
courageous and tireless author
and interviewer has an impres-
sive history as a political ac-
tivist with a lifelong commit-
ment to Israel.
Lanzmann shares with the
readers and film viewers many
of the shocks he experienced.
For example, when he came to
Treblinka, there was the horror
of witnessing the railroad sign
with the name of the place
where 400,000 Jews were gassed
to death, with the railway there
as if nothing so horrifying ever
occurred. He keeps returning to
Treblinka, commencing with:
Richard Glazar (Switzerland),
It was at the end of No-
vember 1942. They chased us
away from our work and
back to our barracks. Sud-
denly, from the part of the
camp called the death camp,
flames shot up. Very high. In
a flash, the whole coun-
tryside, the whole camp,
seemed ablaze. It was already
dark. We went into our bar-
racks and ate. And from the
window, we kept on watching
the fantastic backdrop of
Ilaines of every imaginable
'color: red, yellow, green pur-
And suddenly one of us
-stood up. We knew ... he'd
been an opera singer in War-
saw. His name was Salve,
and facing that curtain of
fire, he began chanting a
song I didn't know:

My God, my God, why hast
Thou forsaken us?

We have been thrust into the
fire before,
but we have never denied Thy
Holy Law."

He sang in Yiddish, while
behind him blazed the pyres
on which they had begun
then in November 1942, to
burn the bodies in Treblinka.
That was the first time it
happened. We knew that
night that the dead would no
longer be buried, they'd be
Proceeding is the trek of blood
and horror, through Sobibor,
Chelmno, Auschwitz,
Thresienstadt, Vlodawa, back
and forth, introducing the sur-
vivors, introducing them in all
their agonies, in Israel and
wherever they are located.
The Polish story is equally
endless. The natives are intro-
duced. At a minimum there is
some compassion among the
non-Jews who recall the
neighbors who ended in the
crematoria. In the main there is
a snickering, a sort of retained
hatred — even now — for the
Jews left there.
Such is Shoah. Lanzmann's is
acclaimed the greatest of all
film documentaries, therefore
with an equal recognition for
the printed Pantheon text. As a
human document it keeps re-
minding of the Holocaust-
Annihilation-Devastation, con-
tinually crying out in protest
against the unspeakable crimes.


Rome — Leading Vatican offi-
cials were told last week that
the future of Christian-Jewish
relations depends upon the ac-
ceptance of Judaism as an equal
faith partner in combatting the
moral and social problems that
confront us today.
Rabbi Mordecai Waxman,
immediate past ;presider-At of the
Synagogue Council of America,
stated that Catholics must
understand and accept the role
Israel plays in the lives of Jews
and the deep meaning of the
Holocaust tragedy.
In a speech delivered before a
four-day consultation of 60
Catholic and Jewish officials
marking the 20th anniversary of
Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II
declaration on the Jews, Rabbi
Waxman said that existing ves-
tiges of Christian proselytizing
of Jews must be eliminated.


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