MEMORY: How did otherwise ordinary human beings take part in one of humanity's greatest crimes?
Carmen Gray
Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: November 16, 2020

«If ninety-nine had said yes before me, I might have participated as well, »says an interviewee, recalling the mass conformity engendered by fascist youth organisations in wartime Germany, normalising the persecution of Jews and dissidents. Luke Holland’s Final Account, which screens at IDFA, is a documentary survey distilled from around three hundred interviews of those Germans and Austrians still alive who were active in or eye-witness to the deadly functioning of the Nazi machine. By speaking with those who, even if they had not directly perpetrated crimes, saw and heard of atrocities without intervention or opposition, the film conveys insight into a climate of silent acceptance and deflection of responsibility, that allowed horror to spread in broad daylight, and was underpinned by a heavy programme of propaganda and groupthink indoctrinated from childhood.

Over and over

Of course, it is far from the first cinematic gathering-together of Holocaust-related testimony, with Claude Lanzmann’s much longer Shoah (1985), which clocks in at over nine hours, remaining the definitive act of bearing witness to the cataclysm that has been committed to cinema. But the interviews Final Account records are powerful in …


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