Sunday, 18 August 2013

Documentary Sunday - I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal

Sunday's are lazy, so why not take the time to sit down, relax and open your mind to exciting new worlds of knowledge, intrigue and opinions.

It's been almost a week since Laszlo Csatary, the Hungarian art dealer accused of helping the Nazi's deport the Jews to concentration camps, died before his trial could come to a conclusion, leaving behind many unanswered questions. As a result, this week's documentary is a look at one of the most famous of the Nazi War Criminal hunters, Simon Wiesenthal.

The documentary is divided into two clear parts: the first recounts Simon's family life pre-Nazi occupation and his memories of having to witness the monstrosities inflicted upon the Jewish civilians solely for their beliefs. It is hard to watch as we are shown images and videos of the horrors that was the Final Solution but it hammers home that the holocaust happened and that those behind it were no longer fit to be labelled human.

The second part, while equally tough to watch, ends up turning into a thrilling detective story as we see Simon, a man once destined to be an architect, turn into one of the greatest Nazi hunters who helped bring down more than 1000 war criminals between the end of the war and his death in 2005. There obviously isn't time to go through all his exploits however we are given glimpses of his more famous pursuits such as Adolf Eichmann (the [evil] mastermind behind the Final Solution), Franz Stangl (one of the operators of the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre which was responsible for almost 100,000 deaths) and some of those responsible for the maintenance of the gas chambers. It's incredibly shocking to learn the body counts these men were responsible for but fascinating to learn of the methods they were brought down with. Certainly one of the more impressive stories is that Wiesenthal offered insight into Frederick Forsyth's 'The Odessa File' which, because Simon told Forsyth to use a real war criminal for the story, actually led to the arrest and capture of Eduard Roschmann, one of the ghetto commandants.

Overall, this is a very emotional experience that delves deep into Simon's character and his complete devotion to tracking down every last surviving member of the party. It does a good job showing the effect it had on his family life but also the effect it had on him as a survivor of the holocaust.

Who Does it Appeal To?
Forget who it appeals to, this is one documentary that everyone needs to see or at least read about. The holocaust was one of the most shocking events of the 20th Century and should never be forgotten, especially in a world where similar crimes still occur on a daily basis.

What to Take Away From It?
That one man can make a difference, even when the rest of the world was prepared to move on.
It is also a testament that good will always prevail over the darkest evil and that no crimes can ever go unforgotten.

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