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‘The Auschwitz Report’: Slovakian film tells of escapees who tried to warn world

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JTA — Were it not for Rudolph Vrba and Alfréd Wexler, would the world today know the true extent of the mass murder the Nazis inflicted during the Holocaust?

The two men, both Slovak Jews who escaped from Auschwitz, secretly recorded fastidious notes about details of the death camp unknown to the outside world.

These included schematics of the gas chambers, the Nazis’ use of the deadly chemical Zyklon-B, the number of prisoners being brought in to their deaths every day and the planned construction of a new rail line for deporting Hungarian Jews directly to the camp. The information the men smuggled out of Auschwitz formed the basis for the Vrba-Wetzler Report — the first time the international community had heard of much of these horrors.

The new Slovakian film “The Auschwitz Report,” directed by Peter Bebjak, somewhat clunkily dramatizes Vrba and Wexler’s 1944 escape and attempt to get their message to an outside world still largely ignorant of what was transpiring at the camps. This being a Holocaust film, Bebjak also spends considerable time (a full half of his 94 minutes) re-enacting the hell of the camp itself.

These early sequences — Nazis beating a man to death, shooting a father’s daughter in front of him, stacking naked dead bodies like meat — are stomach-churning in a familiar way, and serve as the film’s intent to align itself with more brutal siblings like “Son of Saul” rather than softer works like “Life is Beautiful.”

Whether you find such scenes a necessary tool of the “never forget” philosophy will likely depend on how many Holocaust movies you’ve already seen, and how many........

© The Times of Israel

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