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 Counterfeiters aka Die Fälscher (2007) The True Story of the Biggest Counterfeiting Operation of all Times

Die Fälscher aka The Counterfeiters is one of the most highly acclaimed Austrian/German movies of the last years and got many prizes. It’s a good movie, based on an incredible true story, with great actors and some very thought-provoking elements but…. But what? I am at a loss. Did I not like it? Maybe not but there are many war movies I absolutely don’t like but still think they are great or very good. Why not this one? It does belong to the subcategory of Holocaust/concentration camp movies and as such it is not up to others, maybe that is the reason… I found the story fascinating and the dilemma worthwhile, still….

Solomon “Sally” Sorowitsch, a Russian Jew, lives the good life in Berlin, just before the war. He is the king of the counterfeiters. He has a lot of money that he spends on champagne, women, parties and gambling. The good life ends when Superintendent Friedrich Herzog arrests him. He is sent to the concentration camp Mathausen. Mathausen is a concentration camp just like Auschwitz. Forced-labour, unspeakable conditions, dirt, no food, abuse, mistreatment…When a guard discovers Sally’s talent as an artist, his life changes. He isn’t treated like the others anymore. In exchange for paintings for the Germans he gets privileges. After some time he is transferred to Sachsenhausen where he and a big group of others will live in luxurious barracks. They have been picked by the very same Herzog who arrested Sally. They have all been chosen for particular skills and are ordered to start to forge first the British Pound and then the American Dollar. Sally has no morals, as long as he can save his life and live comfortably he doesn’t care too much how he achieves this goal. But there are others in the group who do not think that way. To forge the currency of the Allies means to help the Nazis. If it wasn’t for a particularly sadistic guard – who knows – maybe Sally’s conscience wouldn’t have been awakened but in the end it is.

When the war is over, Sally knows once more how to make the most out of the situation, and, like before, in the end, being the gambler he is, he loses all.

The movie does ask some interesting questions. Is it justifiable to want to save your own life? Should you sacrifice a few for many others?

Sorowitsch is a fascinating character and his skills are amazing. It is an interesting movie and if I hadn’t felt, that I have to like it, maybe I would have appreciated it more.