Claude Lanzmann

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Claude Lanzmann
Claude Lanzmann 2014.jpg
Lanzmann in 2014
Born(1925-11-27)27 November 1925
Paris, France
Died5 July 2018(2018-07-05) (aged 92)
Paris, France
Years active1970–2018
Known forShoah (1985)
(m. 1963; div. 1971)

(m. 1971, divorced)

Dominique Petithory
(m. 1995)
PartnerSimone de Beauvoir (1952–1959)

Claude Lanzmann (French: [lanzman]; 27 November 1925 – 5 July 2018) was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Early life[edit]

Lanzmann was born on 27 November 1925 in Paris, France, the son of Paulette (née Grobermann) and Armand Lanzmann.[1] His family was Jewish, and had immigrated to France from Eastern Europe.[2] He was the brother of writer Jacques Lanzmann. Lanzmann attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal [fr] in Clermont-Ferrand.[3] While his family disguised their identity and went into hiding during World War II,[4] he joined the French resistance at the age of 17, along with his father and brother, and fought in Auvergne.[3] Lanzmann opposed the French war in Algeria and signed the 1960 antiwar petition Manifesto of the 121.[5]


Lanzmann was the chief editor of the journal Les Temps Modernes, founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and lecturer at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[6] In 2009 he published his memoirs under the title Le lièvre de Patagonie ("The Patagonian Hare").[7]


Lanzmann's most renowned work, Shoah (1985), is a nine-and-a-half-hour oral history of the Holocaust. Shoah is made without the use of any historical footage, and uses only first-person testimony from perpetrators and victims, and contemporary footage of Holocaust-related sites. Interviewees include the Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski and the American Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg. When the film was released, the director also published the complete text, including in English translation, with introductions by Lanzmann and Simone de Beauvoir.

Lanzmann disagreed, sometimes angrily, with attempts to understand the why of Hitler, stating that the evil of Hitler cannot or should not be explained and that to do so is immoral and an obscenity.[8]

Lanzmann also oftentimes pushed his subjects to extreme emotional limits to bring out the most authentic reactions for his audience. The interview with barber Abraham Bomba is a staple of a Claude Lanzmann interview. [9]

A compilation of "Shoah: Unseen Interviews" was released in 2012 that included interviews filmed at the time of the original production but never made it into the film. [10]

On 4 July 2018, his last work, Les Quatre Soeurs (Shoah: Four Sisters) was released, featuring testimonials from four Holocaust survivors not included in his Shoah. Lanzmann died the following day.[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

From 1952 to 1959, he lived with Simone de Beauvoir.[13] In 1963 he married French actress Judith Magre.[14] They divorced in 1971,[citation needed] and he later married Angelika Schrobsdorff, a German-Jewish writer.[14] He divorced a second time,[citation needed] and was the father of Angélique Lanzmann and Félix Lanzmann.[15] Claude Lanzmann died on 5 July 2018 at his Paris home, after having been ill for several days. He was 92.[11][12]


Selected works[edit]


As subject


  • Shoah: An Oral History of the Holocaust : The Complete Text of the Film. Pantheon Books, New York 1985, ISBN 978-0-394-55142-5
  • The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir (translated by Frank Wynne). London: Atlantic Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1-84887-360-5 ; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2012, ISBN 978-0-374-23004-3
  • La Tombe du divin plongeur. Gallimard, Paris 2012 ISBN 978-2-070-45677-2


  1. ^ Pascal, Julia (5 July 2018). "Claude Lanzmann obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ Epstein, Helen (26 March 2012). "Fuse Feature: A Conversation with Claude Lanzmann about his memoir, "The Patagonian Hare"". The Arts Fuse. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Delacampagne, Christian (2007). "Claude Lanzmann (1925–)". In Reilly, Brian J. (ed.). The Columbia History of Twentieth-century French Thought. Columbia University Press. pp. 571–72. ISBN 9780231107907.
  4. ^ Berry, Meghan (26 March 2012). "Claude Lanzmann Talks About Shoah, de Beauvoir and His Memoir With Charlie Rose". On Campus. Archived from the original on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  5. ^ Dax, Max (19 June 2009). "Israels Feinde machen keine Gefangenen" [Israel's enemies do not take prisoners]. Die Tageszeitung (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  6. ^ Claude Lanzmann Faculty profile at European Graduate School
  7. ^ Paul Berman (10 August 2012). "The Witness". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  8. ^ Rosenbaum, Ron (1999). "Claude Lanzmann and the War Against the Question Why". Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-679-43151-9.
  9. ^’s-shoah. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ a b Nouchi, Ramck (5 July 2018). "Claude Lanzmann, le réalisateur de " Shoah ", est mort". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  12. ^ a b Claude Lanzmann Dies: Director Best Known For Holocaust Documentary 'Shoah' Was 92
  13. ^ Menand, Louis (26 September 2005). "Stand By Your Man". The New Yorker: Condé Nast. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b Shatz, Adam (5 April 2012). "Nothing he hasn't done, nowhere he hasn't been". London Review of Books. 34 (7). Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  15. ^ "Claude Lanzmann se confie sur la mort de son fils Félix, 23 ans". Femme Actuelle. 2 March 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Auszeichnung: Claude Lanzmann erhält den "Welt"-Literaturpreis". Berliner Morgenpost (in German). 2 October 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  17. ^ "Honorary Doctorates - University of Lucerne". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  18. ^ 'La promotion du 14 juillet de la Légion d'honneur', in Le Figaro, 14 July 2011 [1]
  19. ^ "Claude Lanzmann: an extraordinary prize for an extraordinary man". Retrieved 16 December 2013.

Further reading[edit]