Talk:Shoah (film)

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Who is Responsible for the Tone of the Last Section?[edit]

I mean I'm sorry, I'm not a Jew and I hate the state of Israel and think the reflex accusations of anti-Semitism for anything criticizing Israelis or Nazi-hunters is annoying, but- was this section tampered with by someone anti-Semitic? It's clearly biased against the filmmaker, it defends (and attempts to elicit sympathy for) the Nazis and the Polish 'bystanders' (ie, those who stood by and watched an entire race get murdered), and generally is really creepy and weird and wrong. Fix it or I will. Or hell, why not go the rest of the way and make a section about how Shoah might be a vast hoax, since the Holocaust never happened. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.230.108.126 (talk) 13:24, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

  • Please, add your comments below, not on the top.
  • "the Nazis and the Polish 'bystanders' (ie, those who stood by and watched an entire race get murdered)" - would you be so kind to learn, how were the Polish 'bystanders' exterminated, robbed and deported during WWII, not only by the Germans? Why the Polish bystanders are attacked rather than the ones outside Poland? Xx236 (talk) 10:23, 6 February 2009 (UTC)


"Fix it or I will." I thank God that the illustrious composer of the sentence "Updike sucks." in the John Updike article has made his way here to the Shoah (film) article and is giving us his (unsigned, of course) take on responses to The Holocaust. Schoolyard bullies wearing Notre Dame jackets are now barging into encyclopedia editing rooms and redefining the world the rest of us live in! Saints Be Praised! But wouldn’t you feel more at home scrawling your insults on the urine-stinking rest room walls of your local Fighting Irish tavern? CMUMailman (talk) 00:39, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Any evidence Lanzmann actually said it's not a documentary?[edit]

I wrote the current intro on the supposition of someone who insisted that Lanzmann denied it was a documentary. This seemed plausible to me (artists often like to say that their work is genre-breaking), and so I tried to work it into the article in an NPOV way. However, looking around a little, I'm not so sure. Is there any evidence that Lanzmann ever actually made such a statement?--Pharos 20:27, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

An article from Yale French Studies (Volume 79, 1991) titled "Seminar with Claude Lanzmann, 11 April 1990" transcribes a seminar Q&A Lanzmann held at Yale. On page 96 of the article, we find

Karen Fiss: You told us about one story that wasn't included in the film. I'm wondering what you did with all the other information that you gathered? Was it recorded?...What are you doing with the film that wasn't included in the final...
Lanzmann: With what is not in the film? You want to know my deep wish? MY wish would be to destroy it. I have not done it. I will probably not do it. But if I followed my inclination I would destroy it. This, at least, would prove that Shoah is not a documentary.

Although this comment, in terms of substantiating your introduction, is more cogent within the context of this article, I think it's essential to note that Shoah is not a documentary, according to the typical use of this term. Hopefully this quote helps. --Ibickerstaff 02:36, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
I find this entire 'documentary or not' discussion a bit academic, to be honest. Of course Shoah is a documentary. That Shoah mainly consists of 'talking heads' doesn't make it in anyway special or different. There are numerous similar documentaries, also without historical footage or reenactments. I can understand Lanzmann's reluctancy to call it a documentary, because that's box-office poison. Documentaries don't sell well. But let's call a spade a spade. There's no shame in making documentaries and Shoah is a bloody good one. (By the way, if a trainride to Treblinka isn't a reenactment, then I don't know what is.)  Channel ®    20:00, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
It's not documentary because Lanzmann made the movie to made a point. He didn't "document", he only took those materials which suited his point and ditched all others. Szopen (talk) 09:05, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
A documentary contains creative image of the others - eg. dumbs Pollacks. A biased movie about yourself is a biased movie, propaganda, lies. Why did he select the Poles of more than twenty nations of bystanders? Xx236 (talk) 06:50, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

[1] Jerzy Turowicz' article.Xx236 (talk) 10:06, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Poles about Claude Lanzmann and Shoah[edit]

Anna Bikont with Claude Lanzmann: http://niniwa2.cba.pl/BIKONT.HTM "AB: Can you recognise, that there are other points of view?" "CL: There is no other point of view, there is only proper point of view." About Polish movie about Korczak: "AB: Do you consider as improper solely the fact, that the movie about Holocaust was made by Poles?" "CL: I don not want to go into this, but I wouldn't be so audacious to made a movie about Palestinians"

Janicka, Polish translator who worked with Lanzmann: "Yes, I did sometimes changed Lanzmann questions. He despised his Polish interviewers. For example he asked them those golden teeths you were given, were they still blooded"?"

He ignored ALL fragments about Poles helping Jews. Karski talked a lot about that; Gawkowski, Pole who drove a train with Jews was talking about Jews who were helped during escape by Poles. One Jewish survivor asked Lanzmann to find a daughter of Pole, who helped him. NONE of this was in the movie.

Lanzmann about why he cut Karski "I wasn't making a document." Bartoszewski, who was member of Zegota, organisation which helped the Jews "Lanzmann asked me >>did I witnessed execution of Jews? No? then we have nothing to talk about<<"

And that's why this was not a documentary. Szopen (talk) 09:26, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

I've also read your other contributions and basically what you keep saying is that Lanzmann paints an unfair picture of the Polish people. I think you're right about that. Shoah mainly shows indifferent Poles who don't care that much (if at all) about the Jews being gassed. Lanzmann completely ignores the Polish resistance and gives the impression that everybody in Poland agreed with the nazis. Simply put, in Shoah there are only bad Germans, indifferent Poles and innocent Jews. I agree with you that this an unbalanced view.
However, it's Lanzmann's view. Every documentary has a point of view and every director will cut out stuff that doesn't fit this view. In some cases it's more obvious than in others. A documentary may be biased, but it's still a documentary. It doesn't matter if the viewer agrees with the content or not.
Lanzmann does not present fiction as fact. The Germans he interviews ARE nazis, the Poles he interviews ARE indifferent, the Jews he interviews ARE innocent victims. There must have been others too, of course. Good Germans and bad Jews. But they don't fit in Shoah. That doesn't matter. Somebody else can make a documentary about them. The point is that the people in Shoah are speaking THEIR truth, THEIR facts. It's not fiction. It may only be one side of the story, but it's a true side. Which, in my book, makes it a documentary.  Channel ®    11:12, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Good propaganda is always based on facts.
There is a novel The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum - the power of media is terrible. Somebody else can make a documentary about them. - the documentaries exist, but you don't know them, the same as millions of other people, including some Holocaust academicians, who quote Shoah as an ultimate prove of the evilness of all Poles. Xx236 (talk) 06:43, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

For Lanzmann the setting in Catholic Poland was crucial, not incidental, to the Holocaust. He makes no reference to Catholic regimes in Croatia, Slovakia or Vichy France. For him Catholic antisemitism means Polish, peasant antisemitism. - see Jewish Quaterly [2]. Xx236 (talk) 11:59, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

The English article currently cited to support the statement that "some Poles have accused Lanzmann of being selective in his use of Polish subjects, that he mistranslated some dialogue and that he edited the film to create the impression that Poles willingly co-operated with the Nazis, cutting out anything which contradicted this view" doesn't include these specific accusations. As far as I can see, the closest it comes is in the 3rd paragraph:

after the Paris premiere of Shoah, the conclusion presented in the French mass media was that the Poles had their share in the guilt and responsibility for the extermination of the Jews. (E.g., the title in the Paris daily Liberation: “La Pologne au banc des accusés“/ “Poland in the dock.”) In several interviews and statements Mr. Lanzmann himself has also practically subscribed to this opinion.

Does the mistranslation claim come, rather, from the Polish article that Szopen links to? Dependent Variable (talk) 04:41, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Complaints about bias in this film are well-founded, whether it's a documentary or NOT. It is strange that Lanzmann would focus only on Polish people's participation in the Holocaust. I think that it's obvious to state that many French went along with it too. That Lanzmann's film centers particulary on Poland and its people seems, to put it mildly, unfair. I'm not Polish, and have no Polish ancestors and live in the U.S. But from reading the synopsis of the film it sounds like Lanzmann has an anti-Polish bias or prejudice that he does not want to admit. This obvious bias actually undermines the credibility of his entire film. Why would I want to see a film that does not give the story from all sides? Why would critics call this a good film when it really sounds like a piece of one man's very skewed opinion of history and an entire people? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.23.105.146 (talk) 06:14, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

Intro paragraph "documentary" question needs revision[edit]

The current formulation: "director Lanzmann considers it to fall outside of that genre,[1] as, unlike most historical documentaries, the film does not feature reenactments or historical footage..." seems like a cop-out. While I appreciate the sensitive and indeed emotional nature of the issues, they are important enough IMO to merit a more careful introduction of the "documentary" issue.

Reading the Lanzmann quotes above in the Talk section, and elsewhere (for instance http://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/moc/catalogue/shoah/ where Lanzmann is quoted thus: “Making a history was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to construct something more powerful than that” – Claude Lanzmann) makes it clear that his rejection of the term "documentary" is not due to its lack of reenactments or historical footage - rather that his intention explicitly differs from that usually attributed to (purely) documentary works. For starters, I would remove the word "as" from the quote above, and start a new sentence with the word "Unlike" - this at least decouples the two phrases.

Perhaps including the Lanzmann quote "...something more powerful..." would help in expressing CL's intention to produce an artistic, evocative work of non-fiction, rather than a comprehensive historical narrative. I agree that every documentary work has a viewpoint, but it might be said that maintaining a neutral POV was not one of CL's expressed goals in making the work.

86.42.95.228 (talk) 13:31, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

Archetypes section[edit]

Just perusing the "Archetypes" section, it struck me as unencyclopedic. It reads like a high school essay. No references. As I understand it, this kind of material doesn't belong in Wikipedia and should be removed. (Sorry!) --Smithfarm (talk) 08:04, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Funding[edit]

This article in New Left Review says that Shlomo Sand "later drew the ire of Claude Lanzmann with his 2002 book in Hebrew, Film as History, in which he not only passed scathing judgement on Lanzmann’s Shoah, but also revealed that the film had been secretly funded by the Israeli government." I'm not sure if that indirect reference is enough; does anyone know more about this? Zerotalk 07:35, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

i agree (mike) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 77.103.12.58 (talk) 21:46, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Fixing this article[edit]

This entire article needs help. This is an extremely important film to the world as it shows real life interviews of holocaust survivors, bystanders and perpetrators, something that could never be recreated as these people have now (for the vast majority) passed on. This is an extremely important and unique film. Yet this article has a poor wandering synopsis and I recently deleted a 'Controversies' section that was incredibly poorly written and biased. It is of the utmost importance to note controversy, but both sides of the controversy need to be explained in order to remain neutral. The intro appears to be the only part of this article that is acceptable. User:Flessner89

Fixing by removing rather than rewriting. The poor "Steretypes" section hasn't been removed? Why streotypes of dangerous Afroamericans or greedy Jews are wrong but stereotypes of dumb Pollacks are O.K.?Xx236 (talk) 13:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I would like to see this article moved away from "who is really to blame for the Holocaust" narrative completely. I don't think that discussion has a place on this page. While I do recognize that this discussion takes place, I don't see that this is the page to have it. I just think that's a historical discussion, and because this is a documentary of a historical event it has never been seen as a complete narrative. At the end of the day, it is a film project and shouldn't be hijacked by political or historical discussions. I have found no significant amount of opinion claiming Shoah is bias whatsoever and none from a reliable source. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fancynancywhy (talkcontribs) 01:19, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Henryk Gawkowski, who drove one of the trains while intoxicated with vodka[edit]

Now we know who is responsible for the Holocaust - intoxicated Henryk Gawkowski, whose face accompanies the article. Xx236 (talk) 13:22, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Lanzmann and Bartoszewski about the film[edit]

I haven't produced a documentary, It's fiction in which the reality of the Shoah is being lived on once more(?). It's an object of art. (Lanzmann to Anna Bikont, published in 1997 in Gazeta Wyborcza http://niniwa2.cba.pl/BIKONT.HTM ).

I don't work with goyim (Lanzmann to his future interpretator in Poland Barbara Janicka).

The film shows only very primitive people (in Poland). What harm if one diplomed technician or one Righteous among the Nations were present in the movie? (Władysław Bartoszewski).Xx236 (talk) 11:59, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Reception and Awards[edit]

I added this section. I hope everyone is happy with it. This is a very serious film and deserves serious consideration. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fancynancywhy (talkcontribs) 00:52, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Criticism/controversy[edit]

How could Pauline Kael's parents be Holocaust survivors, when according to "Pauline Kael" entry in Wikipedia: "Kael was born on a chicken farm in Petaluma, California, to Isaac Paul Kael and Judith (Friedman) Kael, Jewish immigrants from Poland. Her parents lost their farm when Kael was eight, and the family moved to San Francisco.[2] In 1936 she matriculated at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied philosophy, literature, and the arts but dropped out in 1940 before completing her degree"? Pauline Kael was born in 1919, and unless her parents decided to go back to Poland before the outbreak of WW II, which is highly unlikely, they were Jewish immigrants NOT Holocaust survivors. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.87.92.117 (talk) 03:08, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for noticing that. Correction added with reliable third-party source. Poeticbent talk 19:30, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Missing background information[edit]

This article does not say why the Holocaust scholars living in Poland were not contacted for the making of this film in 1985. The same idea of interviewing only peasants was picked up by Robert Faurisson, another Frenchman, who visited Poland in 1988 and spoke through his personal interpreter only with "non-intellectual" locals — again, quite intentionally. The aging Polish farmers who never read any "paper historians" (as Faurisson said) and therefore knew little if anything about the broader picture, could tell a much more suiting story for his own research. Both foreign guests got the idea of making a trip to Poland roughly at the same time. Undoubtedly the trial of John Demjanjuk in 1985–1988 was directly related to the renewed interest in the subject, in France as well as elsewhere. Poeticbent talk 17:35, 30 November 2013 (UTC)