MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 31, 2024: THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW

At a time when some U.S. public schools are shutting down lesson plans that run the risk of making White American children feel bad about the country’s history of enslavement and oppression, The Commandant’s Shadow is an especially timely reminder of the dangers of willfully turning a blind eye to history. Daniela Volker’s documentary about coming to terms with both personal and societal legacies is a compelling addition to the catalog of films about World War II and the Holocaust.

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THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW – Review by Loren King

By focusing on the specific stories of several individuals, director Daniela Volker’s The Commandant’s Shadow explores universal issues about generational trauma related to the Holocaust. It’s a moving and profound journey that we take with the son, daughter, and grandson of notorious Auschwitz commander Rudolf Hoss, the Nazi responsible for the systematic murder of millions and the subject of Jonathan Glazer’s Oscar-winning film The Zone of Interest.

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THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW – Review by Jennifer Merin

In the revelatory Holocaust documentary, The Commandant’s Shadow, filmmaker Daniela Volker investigates life after Auschwitz. More specifically, she focuses on Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoss’ son and daughter and grandson, delving into how they’ve come to terms with knowing that their beloved forebear was the mass murderer of more human beings than any other human in history. Hoss’ wife is also questioned about her husband’s ‘work,’ efficiently executing Adolf Hitler’s dictates for the death camp.

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THE COMMANDANT’S SHADOW – Review by Leslie Combemale

Documentarian Daniela Völker’s film follows Hans Höss, the son of Rudolf Höss, who was not only the commandant of Auschwitz, but one of the architects of its design, especially as it related to the extermination of prisoners there. A man who had a personal hand in killing over a million Jews, it was his life that was fictionalized in The Zone of Interest. While young son, Hans, played in his back yard, blissfully unaware of what was happening over the wall mere feet away, one prisoner, young cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, was playing for her life. She was part of the orchestra that serenaded victims and Nazi soldiers alike, while selection of who would live and who would be sent directly to the gas chambers was being done.

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