The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial 1963–1965
Verdict on Auschwitz
Review by Ross Anthony

This is a rather somber documentary. Three hours of old sepia photographs, jittery b/w film footage, interviews, long panning shots of an empty courtroom and testimony after testimony of the atrocity that is the Holocaust. Not a pleasure to watch, but informative and successful at exposing details of an event that is quite well known, but perhaps not well enough felt and feared by those not directly affected.

This documentary makes real the absolutely horrific magnitude of this genocide. To see the trainloads, the piles of luggage without owners, the miles-long lines of people walking across the countryside to their ultimate demise by disciplined soldiers of a bigoted leader. It’s made clear. Hitler, himself, is only spoken of a handful of times during this production. Clearly, the filmmakers wish to make the point that soldiers are ultimately responsible for their actions.

Defendant Josef Klehr states in his defense, “As a subordinate soldier I had no other choice and had to comply to the order. I did not determine the fate of these poor people.” In 1965 he was sentenced to life in prison. Hans Stark, also on trial, stated rather genuinely, “I participated in many peoples’ deaths. Following the war, I often asked myself if this made me a criminal, but I have failed to find a valid answer for myself. I believed in the Fuhrer. I wanted to serve my people.” He was sentenced to ten years in prison – according to this documentary.

Peace is such a beautiful thing. Why do we as citizens and soldiers allow the few in power to disrupt peace? Is this too idealistic a question? Clint Eastwood in Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of our Fathers takes time to explore the weight of such obligation on the shoulders of young soldiers.

-- Book Contest --

  • Verdict on Auschwitz. Copyright © 2007.
  • Directed by Rolf Bickel and Dietrich Wagner.
  • First Run Features Quad Cinema.

Grade..........................B+ (2.5/4)

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Last Modified: Monday, 29-Jan-2007 14:35:34 PST