13 Holocaust Movies You Should See

I recently saw a list on which there were 100 Holocaust movies you need to watch. The number seemed slightly excessive. Maybe they counted each and every WWII movie in which there were Jewish people. No idea. I wouldn’t call a movie a Holocaust movie unless it focusses on Jewish life during WWII, either in ghettos, concentration camps or, like in Defiance as a Resistance group or on the run. Everything else is just a WWII movie.  I just watched Jakob the Liar which I will review soon and that gave me the idea to make a list of the 13 Holocaust movies I consider to be the best. My favourite of the movies below is The Round Up – La Rafle. If you think I missed one that is extremely good and should be added, let me know.

Holocaust (1978, TV mini-series US) The story of a Jewish family and their struggle to survive in Nazi Germany.

Sophie’s Choice (1982, UK/US) The horrible story of a Polish mother who has to make a terrible choice that will scar her for life.

Triumph of the Spirit (1989, US) The true story of box champion Salamo Arouch who survives Auschwitz. See my review

Schindler’s List (1993, US) The true story of the courageous man Schindler who saved a great number of Jews.

La vita è bella – Life is Beautiful (1997, Italy) An family of Italian Jews is deported to a concentration camp where the father pretends it’s all a game. See my review

Jakob the Liar (1999, US) Jakob Heym pretends to have a radio in the ghetto and makes up stories about the war going to end very soon. See my review

Anne Frank – The Whole Story (2001, TV mini-series US/ Czech Republic) The whole story of Anne Frank including her stay at the concentration camp.

The Grey Zone (2001, US) Story of Jews who work in the crematoria of Auschwitz.

The Pianist (2002, FR/PL/GE/UK) The true story of a Polish pianist who hid in the Warsaw ghetto.  See my review

Ghetto (2006, Germany/Lithuania) A sadistic Nazi commander rules over a ghetto in Lithuania.

Die Fälscher – The Counterfeiters (2007, AU/GE) True story of a famous Jewish counterfeiter who gets caught by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp where he should help forge foreign currency. See my review

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008, UK/US) Uncanny story of a boy who befriends a Jewish boy in a concentration camp not knowing that his father is in charge of that camp or what the camp is. See my review

The Round Up – La Rafle (2010, FR/GE/HU) In the night of July 16 1942, 13000 Parisian Jewsare arrested and confined in the Vel d’Hiv before being sent to Drancy and later exterminated in Auschwitz. True story. See my review

Have you seen them? Did you like them?

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The Diary of Anne Frank (2009) The BBC mini-series

The Diary of Anne Frank is a BBC mini-series in 5 parts, each of which is half an hour long. There are far over 20 movies or TV series that depict the life of this famous thirteen year old girl. Anne Frank spent two years in hiding, in an annex and the attic of an old house in Amsterdam during the last years of the second world war. Because they were Jewish, her father decided to hide in order to avoid being deported to a concentration camp. They hid there together with family friends, all in all 8 people and a cat, in very close quarters. Anne, a precocious and highly intelligent teenager, kept a diary of this time, the famous Diary of Anne Frank, on which this and any other movie is based.

The incredible tragedy of Anne Frank’s story is the well-known fact, that after hiding for two years successfully, they were still found and deported to various camps where they all died, in some cases just a few months before the end of the war.

The father was the only survivor. And what “survived” as well, was Anne’s diary that she had to leave behind when they were discovered. The lovely Miep, who hid them, and brought them food every day, kept it.

There are different ways to tell Anne’s story I remember one movie also showing her in the concentration camp. That was a very good but very bleak movie. This mini-series is completely different.

I found especially the first parts to be very educational. This could and should be shown in schools and can also be watched with younger children. I found out later that the BBC aimed at this public. In so far it is very well done. The girl Anne and her daily life, her struggles, conflict with the grown-us – in particular the mother – first love and many other things are shown nicely. We also see how stressful it must have been to hide like that and be around the same people day in and day out. They had no privacy, no independence, no freedom.

This cozy feel is a bit of a problem for grown-ups, I would say, it’s a bit too cute. On the other hand, the end is extremely powerful, much more powerful even than the end of the one in the concentration camp. But you really have to watch the whole series to experience this ending. We see nothing graphic, nothing brutal, just the people being led out and the name of the concentration camp and the date of their death. Very moving. All the quarrels, and petty grievances they went through, all the weaknesses we saw, they all of a sudden get another dimension. In retrospect even the most annoying of the characters becomes endearing. It seems so ironic that they were caught so late, after so many years of deprivations, just when they started to rejoice after having listened to the BBC and heard about D-Day…