Son of Saul, film on Auschwitz mass murder

This video is called Son of Saul Trailer 1 (2015) – Geza Rohrig Holocaust Drama Movie HD.

By Dorota Niemitz:

A modern Antigone: Son of Saul by László Nemes

28 January 2016

Directed by László Nemes; written by Nemes and Clara Royer, based on the book The Scrolls of Auschwitz and various prisoners’ memoirs

Hungarian filmmaker László Nemes’s debut feature film, Son of Saul, treats almost unimaginable horror: a day and a half in the life of a member of the Sonderkommando [special unit], made up of prisoners who staffed the gas chambers, at the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp. More than one million people were murdered at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944, 90 percent of them Jews, transported from all over German-occupied Europe.

Henryk Mandelbaum, the last survivor of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, who died in 2008, called the unit members living corpses. Their average life expectancy in the position was two to four months. Under threat of death, the Nazis used them to conduct people to the gas chambers and burn their bodies in the crematoriums.

Most of the death camp Sonderkommando members were Jews. An aspect of the Nazis’ diabolical plan was to make the victims partially responsible for the Holocaust. To other camp inmates they were traitors. Only about 200 of them survived the war.

The unit members had to extract gold teeth, remove jewelry and other valuables, cut hair and disinfect the chambers. After reducing the burnt corpses to ash, they had to throw them into the nearby river. Isolated for fear of spreading panic, they received more food than other prisoners, but had little time for sleep or rest. The work was constant, the tempo brutal. Many, of course, could not cope and experienced nervous breakdowns, some committed suicide. After being forced to cover traces of the Nazi crimes, the “bearers of secrets” themselves were shot.

Nemes’s Son of Saul depicts the events of October 7, 1944, when one of the biggest Sonderkommando uprisings took place. Some 450 out of 663 special unit prisoners took part in the revolt. Learning that they were slated for extermination, the prisoners attacked the SS and Kapos with two machine guns, axes, knives and grenades, killing three and wounding 12 German soldiers, as well as blowing up Crematorium IV. The rebellion was quickly crushed by the SS.

All the insurgents were killed. Those who managed to escape and reach the nearby village, Rajsko, were surrounded in a barn and blown up with hand grenades. Five young Jewish women who worked for the Weichsel-Union-Metallwerke, a munitions plant within the Auschwitz complex, and who had smuggled small amounts of gunpowder to aid the uprising, were later hanged.

Unlike previous portrayals of the Sonderkommando, such as the one in Tim Blake Nelson’s The Grey Zone, which treated the conduct of the individual members as “shameful,” Son of Saul is a sincere attempt to depict the complex reality of the concentration camp and the multiplicity of connections between victims and their oppressors.

Saul (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian Jew who––humiliated and paralyzed in the face of the enormous scale of the hellish mass murder––numbly collaborates with the Nazis to stay alive. After witnessing the murder of a teenage boy who has just arrived in a transport from Hungary, and believing the youth might be his son born out of wedlock, Saul decides to steal the body to ensure the boy’s proper burial.

The recreated reality of the movie is brutally precise and historically accurate. Cinematographer Mátyás Erdély uses a technique similar to that of the Dardenne brothers, following his main character very closely, providing a deliberately narrow field of vision, to immerse the viewer in the immediate surroundings. We can almost smell the dirt on Saul’s body, feel his torment. Screams and moans in Yiddish, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and German substitute for a soundtrack and broaden the imagery’s realism.

Despite the blurry background, we are well aware of what is taking place at all times. It is precisely the lack of details that horrifies the most. Then there are the scenes in which terrible discoveries are subtly conveyed, such as the realization that the mountains of dust shoveled into the river are composed of human remains.

Judaism forbids cremation of the body and treats it as a sin. The corpse needs to be wrapped in a tallit, a special fringed garment, and buried as quickly after death as possible.

Like Sophocles’ Antigone, who defies the tyrant Creon’s edict forbidding the burial of her rebel brother, Polynices, Saul revolts against the brutal laws of the Nazi totalitarian state in defense of human and, to him, divine principles. He knows beforehand the rules and the consequences––his “crime” is conscious and deliberate. Until the very end Saul remains untouched by and indifferent toward the authority that will crush him. Suffering beyond endurance, he accepts his fate: He can do nothing but die.

Saul dies, but all is not lost for humanity. We know the Nazi regime ultimately collapsed, like that of the of the King of Thebes in Greek mythology.

In Son of Saul Nemes accomplishes something rare for a modern artist, skillfully reviving the principles and themes of an ancient drama, sculpting the essence of a human tragedy. The viewer might question the uncompromising religious values Saul stands for. But it is undeniable that his clash with the camp authorities is of immense importance to human beings today who sense the vast gap between their innate sense of “what is right” and the doings of the global rulers.

Saul is defending an old and annihilated order, now only an unreal shadow. By desperately searching for a rabbi in a world where such an individual’s functions have been obliterated, he seeks to link the nonexistent with the existent. The respect paid to the body of what might be his offspring becomes a symbol of universal honor paid to all those slaughtered and then burnt in defiance of their religion in the inferno of crematoriums. Stealing the boy’s body becomes an act of retribution: the extermination of the Jews will not be completed because something will be left of them, even if in a grave.

In Nemes’s film, there is little room for subjectivity nor much interest in Saul’s individual personality: the man is a universal “self” and represents the community of people caught up by forces bigger and independent of themselves. He is an actor confronted on the stage not only with his oppressors, but with the chorus of camp resistance members who accuse him of “failing the living for the sake of the dead.” One of the chorus members, a Soviet soldier, even kicks him in the gut.

There is something fixated and even psychotic in Saul’s determination. It makes him endanger his own life––and the lives of others––to fulfill his “duty.” Had he not lost the gunpowder due to his obsession with the dead body, would the uprising have been successful?

It is perhaps difficult to identify with the cold, robot-like, half-dead Saul. But it is also difficult to condemn him. His face, although at times it resembles a predator’s, should invoke some compassion. Saul’s condition speaks to something broader than his own individual fate: the wretchedness of all those forced against their will to toil for a system they did not create, merely to survive.

Despite the film’s physical and intellectual constraints, which reduce the conflict largely to the ethical plane and omit any reference to the historical roots of the horrors it depicts, Son of Saul is a valuable artistic achievement. It is a matter of utmost importance that such a work reaches global cinemas. Fascist political tendencies are again on the rise and various European governments are adopting Nazi-style measures against refugees, including the confiscation of their money and valuables upon entry into miserable camps.

Hitler, anti-Semitism praised in Ukraine

In this 27 December 2015 video, Ukrainian pro-Kiev government politician Artyom Vitko sings the praise of Adolf Hitler.

By Jason Melanovski:

Ukrainian government officials celebrate Nazism, anti-Semitism

4 January 2016

Several recent incidents in Ukraine have further exposed the far-right nature of the forces unleashed by the 2014 Maidan “revolution” that ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovych and eventually brought to power the country’s current, widely despised leader, oligarch Petro Poroshenko, whose approval rating has collapsed to just 17 percent.

In a recent video posted to the internet, Artyom Vitko, parliament member and representative of the nationalist Radical Party, can be seen riding in an SUV drinking vodka and singing along to an anti-Semitic song titled “Adolf Hitler is Together with Us” by a Russian neo-Nazi rock group. Vitko, who has also served as a commander in the government-backed Luhansk Battalion that is fighting to suppress pro-Russian breakaway regions in Ukraine’s Donbass, is shown enjoying the lyrics to the song’s chorus, “Adolf Hitler is together with us, Adolf Hitler is in each of us, and an eagle with iron wings will help us at the right time.” As part of his duties as a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Vitko sits on a committee dedicated to improving ties between Israel and Ukraine.

The far-right leader first made international headlines in January 2015 when he supposedly threw blood in the face of Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of Russia, at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, France. According to a public Facebook posting by fellow Radical Party member Dmytro Linko, “At the entrance to PACE’s building, Artyom Vitko and I hurled blood at the face of Russian Communist Zyuganov. We smacked him in his hostile mug.”

The video’s exposure was preceded by reports that the mayor in the city of Konotop, located in northern Ukraine, has been openly displaying anti-Semitic symbols.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Mayor Artyom Semenikhin, who is a member of the far-right Svoboda Party, “drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases ‘we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children’ and ‘Heil Hitler’; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it.”

The release of the video with Vitko singing neo-Nazi songs coincided an official visit to Israel by Ukrainian President Poroshenko. In meetings with Labor Party members, Poroshenko downplayed the rise of anti-Semitism as a political ideology in Ukraine and blamed Russia for promoting anti-Semitism in Crimea.

According to Labor Party lawmaker Ksenia Svetlova, Poroshenko stated, “In Ukraine, Jews have nothing to fear. But in the Crimea they are oppressed and not allowed in synagogue.” Jewish organizations in Crimea, which is now controlled by Russia, declared Poroshenko’s statements to be false.

In a grotesque display of political hypocrisy, during his visit to Israel, Poroshenko declared in a speech before the Knesset, “We must remember the negative events in history, when collaborators helped the Nazis seek the Final Solution.” He announced that Ukraine would hold an official 75th anniversary memorial of the massacre at Babi Yar site in Kiev, where Nazi forces killed nearly 34,000 Jews.

Last April, Poroshenko’s government officially rehabilitated the country’s Nazi collaborators, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), and moved the country’s “Defender of Ukraine Day” to coincide with the formation date of the UPA.

In an expression of the Zionist regime’s utter bankruptcy and the falsity of its claim to defend the world’s Jewish population, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu later stated that he plans to attend the memorial ceremony in Ukraine.

Today, the direct political and familial descendants of the OUN and the UPA are found in Ukraine’s government-backed, far-right military battalions and political parties, such as Svoboda and Vitko’s Radical Party. The latter, for instance, counts Yuriy Shukhevych among its parliamentary members. Yuriy Shukhevych’s father, Roman Shukhevych, was a leader of the UPA. The younger Shukhevych helped draft the April 2015 law honoring Ukraine’s Nazi collaborators.

Since the Kiev regime came to power in a US-backed coup in February 2014, the fascist forces that carried out the overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych have committed violent atrocities against opponents in an effort to terrorize the population into submission.

TODAY communists and socialists will be picketing the Ukrainian embassy in London in protest at the banning of the Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) on December 16. The ban is a result of the decree on “decommunisation” signed by President Petro Poroshenko (pictured) on May 15 2015. The case was heard in secret. The defendants — the leadership of the CPU — were barred. So were their legal representatives. It followed a previous hearing in July when the presiding judges themselves resigned in protest at its politically motivated character. The decommunisation decree had already made it a criminal offence to promote communism or Marxism or to display an associated symbol. Selling anything written by Marx now attracts a prison sentence of up to five years. The same decree requires all citizens of Ukraine to show “respect” to those who fought alongside the nazis in WWII in the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN): here.

Hungarian nazi not honoured with statue

This 2013 video is called Hungary’s Jobbik party hold anti-Semitic rally.

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Hungarian town votes down contested statue for anti-Jewish politician

December 18, 2015 7:53am

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Following an outcry, a municipality in central Hungary cancelled its plan to erect a statue commemorating a statesman who drafted anti-Semitic laws during the Holocaust.

The city council of Szekesfehervar voted down on Friday the plan to erect with public funding a statue in memory of Balint Homan, the Clubradio station reported.

He served as minister of education and religion in the 1940s and was partly responsible for drafting legislation in 1938 and 1939 to restrict the rights of Jews in Hungary and for the deportation in 1944 of 420,000 Jews to Auschwitz.

The plan to erect a statue in his honor provoked protests by local and international Jewish groups, including the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.

The private fund that initiated the statue’s erection this week sent a letter to the municipality and to the mayor, informing them that they are withdrawing the Homan statue project. The foundation also repaid authorities the $55,000 paid by them for the project.

British nazi convicted

This satiric music video from Britain says about itself:

Joshua Bonehill – Gangnam Style!!

13 August 2015

A little video, made via JibJab, with the wannabe British Führer doing the Gangnam Style

Joshua Bonehill-Paine is a member of the British Nazi … oops … ‘National’ Party.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Neonazi guilty of inciting racism

Thursday 17th December 2015

CRIME: Neonazi Joshua Bonehill-Paine was convicted yesterday of inciting racial hatred after he published an anti-semitic picture ahead of an abortive “anti-Jewification” rally in north London.

The 22-year-old, from Yeovil in Somerset, was described in Southwark Crown Court as “an extremist” who expressed “virulently racist views” against Jewish people.

The junior fascist was arrested in July before the rally scheduled to take place in Golders Green, home to a large Jewish community. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Statue for Hungarian anti-Semite?

This video says about itself:

Shock over Hungary Anti-Semitism: Diplomats, Jewish leaders protest against planned statue

14 December 2015

Washington has expressed shock and disappontent at Hungarian plans to erect a statue of Balint Homan, a WWII politician who contributed to murderous anti-Semitism in Hungary in the 1930s and 1940s.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Anti-fascist crowds bid to halt pro-nazi statue

Tuesday 15th December 2015

DIPLOMATS, anti-fascists and Jewish groups held a candle-lit demonstration in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on Sunday evening against a planned statue honouring late pro-nazi minister Balint Homan.

As a minister in the 1930s Mr Homan spearheaded anti-semitic legislation before urging the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Nazi Germany and its Arrow Cross Party allies murdered 565,000 Hungarian Jews during the second world war.

After Hungary’s liberation by the Red Army, war criminal Mr Homan was sentenced to life imprisonment for voting to declare war on the Soviet Union in 1941. He died in jail in 1951.

“Balint Homan was an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews,” said Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities president Andras Heisler.

“He was an anti-semite who does not deserve to be honoured.”

From YouTube:

NEW YORK/BUDAPEST, July 8 [2015] – The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is urging authorities in a Hungarian city to abandon plans to honor a Horthy-era government minister well known for his actions against the Jews. Municipal leaders in Székesfehérvár, a city of 100,000 inhabitants located between Budapest and Lake Balaton, are planning to erect a life-size bronze statue in honor of Bálint Homan (1885-1951). It is to be funded in large part through a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to block plans for the statue from moving forward. “Seventy years after the end of World War II, it is inconceivable and wrong for a city to erect a statue in honor of a known anti-Semite and a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II. Homan was an outspoken supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, and he remained unrepentant until his death,” said Lauder.

“Bálint Homan was an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews. He was an anti-Semite who does not deserve to be honored, and doing so would insult the victims of the Holocaust,” declared WJC Vice-President András Heisler, who also serves as president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz).

In a letter to Székesfehérvár Mayor András Cser-Palkovics, a member of Orbán’s Fidesz party, Heisler recently wrote: “From October 1932, Bálint Hóman, as culture minister in several Hungarian governments, played a key role in the systematic outlawing of the Hungarian Jewish people. His name is connected to the first anti-Jewish law. He supported banning Jews from exercising certain professions. Before the German occupation [in 1944], he wanted to expel Jews and later served as a member of the Arrow Cross regime.”

Heisler added that no Hungarian citizen today could be proud of a personality like Homan, and he stressed that Homan’s academic achievements could not outweigh the role he played before and during the Holocaust.

US President Trump would treat Muslims like Jews in 1930s Germany

This video is from Germany in the 1930s. It shows a Jewish-owned shop window, on which Hitler‘s SA paramilitary troops have painted the word ‘Jew’ and a Star of David.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Donald Trump confirms Muslim ‘register’ plan – but won’t deny comparisons to Nazis’ treatment of Jews

Ben Carson, Mr Trump’s rival for the Republican nomination, also likened refugees fleeing war-torn Syria to rabid dogs

Ashley Cowburn

1 hour ago

Donald Trump has confirmed his plan to force Muslims in the United States to register on a database – and refused to respond to comparisons between his policy and the treatment of Jewish people in Nazi Germany.

The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination was confronted about the scheme – which would see Muslims given a form of identification that notes their religion – by a reporter from NBC News while signing autographs after a rally in Iowa.

The reporter asked whether all Muslims in the US would be forced to register. “They have to be,” replied Mr Trump. “They have to be.”

He was then asked four times by another reporter how his plan for a Muslim database would be different from Nazi Germany’s laws that required Jews to register.

Mr Trump repeatedly replied “you tell me” until he stopped responding.

He first floated the idea of special ID cards for American Muslims during a debate over Syrian refugees entering the country.

The Republican candidate wrote on his Twitter account on Thursday: “Eight Syrians were just caught on the southern border trying to get into the US. Isis maybe? I told you so. WE NEED A BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL.”

The comments come as more than half of state governors across the US said they are not prepared to welcome Syrian refugees.

It also followed the Republican-led House of Representatives passing legislation that would freeze plans to allow 10,000 Syrians into the US.

Mr Trump is not the only Republican candidate to have made provocative remarks about Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks. Ben Carson, Mr Trump’s rival, likened refugees fleeing the war-torn region to rabid dogs.

He said: “If there’s a rabid dog running around your neighbourhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog.”

President Barack Obama has heavily criticised the anti-refugee rhetoric in the wake of the Paris attacks, denouncing proposals by one Republican candidate that only Christians should be granted asylum as un-American.

Mr Obama added: “That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Netanyahu exculpates Hitler from shoah, helps neo-nazis

This video says about itself:

Hitler predicts annihilation of Jews if war occurs, 1-30-1939

Video translation quote: ” … if international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and with it the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”

Bibi Netanyahu, right-wing prime minister of Israel, has cruelly insulted the survivors of Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust in Israel and elsewhere.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Netanyahu accuses former Palestinian leader of Holocaust

Today, 14:12

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has said a Palestinian Muslim leader was behind the Holocaust. According to him, the Palestinian Haj Amin al-Husseini persuaded Hitler to murder Jews rather than banish them.

The accusation was part of a speech by the Prime Minister at the Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. …

“Hitler before the meeting only wanted to ban the Jews. Al-Husseini then went to Hitler and said: “If you banish them, then they will all come to Palestine.”

According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked the Palestinian what he should do with the Jews. “Burn them,” al-Husseini supposedly said.


Saying this has caused the Israeli Prime Minister to get a lot of criticism. His accusation is said to help Holocaust deniers, because it did not highlight the role of Hitler in the Holocaust enough.

Alas, every Holocaust denier will now be quoting Netanyahu from here to eternity.

Stacy Herbert on Twitter

The opposition leader in the Israeli parliament dissociates himself from what his prime minister said. “It’s a sad day in our history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbour so much that he is prepared to absolve one of the largest ever criminals, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of six million Jews.”

The Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon also said that the Prime Minister has got it wrong. “It certainly was not Husseini who invented the idea to kill the Jews en masse. It was the evil wrought Hitler himself.”

It is unclear on what sources Netanyahu based his accusation.

It seems pretty clear to me. Netanyanahu bases this on similar sources to the ones which told Tony Blair to waste British taxpayers’ money on a ‘paranormal’ search for these unfindable ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq. Similar sources to the ones saying that shark cartilage, rhino horn or tiger parts can cure sick humans.

After Moshe Feiglin, a bigwig in Netanyahu’s Likud party, exposed himself as an historical ignoramus by claiming Hitler was not really such a bad guy … now the party leader himself sinks to a new low.

Mass murder of Jews in Europe started months before Hitler met mufti, historians say: here. And here.

From the Jerusalem Post in Israel today:

BERLIN – The German government said on Wednesday that responsibility for the Holocaust lay with the Germans, after Israel’s prime minister sparked controversy before a visit to Berlin by saying a Muslim elder had convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate Jews.

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilization that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said when asked about Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.”

Netanyahu’s Shocking ‘Blame the Mufti, Not Hitler’ Remark Breaks Internet. The prime minister’s controversial Holocaust comments became one of those cases where it was challenging to come up with humor more absurd than the situation itself: here.

Yad Vashem’s Chief Historian on Hitler and the Mufti: Netanyahu Had It All Wrong. There is no evidence that Haj Amin al-Husseini proposed the ‘final solution’ to Hitler, according to Yad Vashem chief historian Dina Porat: here.

It takes a peculiar quality in a politician who claims to speak for all Jews to jump on the “Hitler didn’t order the Holocaust” bandwagon: here.

See also here.

Just how bad are Netanyahu’s claims about the Holocaust? If he repeated them in Germany he could be arrested. There, anyone who ‘denies or downplays’ the role of Nazism in the Holocaust can face a prison term of up to five years: here.

Hitler-loving New Jersey man wanted for aggravated assault: here.