1962 appears to be the year when the film industry shook off the war stupor and finally began to explore the pain. This film is similar to KAPO except made in Czech. Echoing the work of Arnost Lustig and Hannah Arendt the film explores complicity, destruction, resistance, sexual abandon, exploitation, sympathy and empathy. It shows how reality is carefully constructed and provides a lesson to the public relations or propaganda industry on how perception is managed.
The "Germans" are not one dimensional in their sadism, although the film does not flinch from those who have a complete and utter personality disorder - those volk who cannot visualise the human in the being. This appears to be uniform for those who were given rank and command and access to power for recompense for childhood insecurity. As a historical phenomenon this must have been the mass of those kids who grew up from 1914 onwards in Central Europe. The Jews meanwhile veer from acceptance, acquiescence, resistance and general disbelief about what is being done to them. The film hovers on the desire to maintain a pleasant facade at Thieresenstadt, the model camp shown to the Red Cross and the rest of the world. Here general decorum was kept intact and propaganda perceived as a virtue in maintaining the grand fiction - the resettlement programme rather than the eugenicist dream of eradication of populations. For those who shrug, I would check your IQ score - anyone who scored around 70 was deemed fair game after these people were disposed of.
National Socialist Germany - which was neither - was founded upon the myths promulgated within psychiatry around genetics, fitness and race. It was in essence the first psychiatric state founded upon enacting its central myths around demarcating populations.
Here in stark black and white the regime unfolds in a bureaucratic minutae with relentless roll calls and resounding callousness without sinking to the depravity of what the next step in the solution was.
It is a well acted and masterful film once again emanating from Eastern Europe frozen behind the iron curtain. Ironic that the best war films of the era were concocted in Czeck, Russia and Poland and that the worst were produced by the eventual victors. The irony of the paradise lost is not lost.