Final Account (2020) - 9/10
I’ve watched and read a lot of stuff about The Holocaust and the Nazis, yet whenever I approach some new material, it’s always with the same thought ‘It can’t happen again though can it’. The sad reality is antisemitism is on the rise again, certainly in the UK. Which is what makes documentaries like this vital. What makes this a little different from many on the subject is rather than focusing on debunking deniers or being solely voiced by survivors. It relies on those who participated on the Nazi side. The last living generation of the third reich… and their families. Most are products of the Hitler Youth program. They talk of liking the uniform, feeling included, the social engagement, the belonging to a group. Singing! Old men and women now, they still recall the lyrics with an obvious fondness. Some were just civilians, but nearly all admit to knowing what was happening. Even hiding SS officers when the camps were liberated… and chuckling about it! It feels like a lot of people making a lot of excuses. The pressure put on them from Hitler, the social engineering they were subjected to, the fear. There’s not a lot of remorse. They talk as they would’ve at the time and it’s clear that many haven’t truly reevaluated or have an intention to. Some say they didn’t know about the concentration camps, others admit it was clear something was going on, even if they weren’t aware of the full extent. “These heroes you hope to find, there aren’t many of them. We were scared”. Many talk in terms of us and them. They see themselves as Germans. Not Nazis. The Jews a separate entity in the events. Not fellow humans. There’s certainly no suggestion they feel any responsibility. Even those who grew up and worked as part of the regime, as bookkeepers, as guards. The only truly enlightened voice is that of filmmaker Luke Holland, who asks the questions we’re all asking. ‘Who reported the Jews hiding in your barn?’, ‘Did you know what was happening in the camps?’, ‘Would you have killed those Jews?’. The answers are always the ones you don’t want to hear. There’s a ridiculous denial about the whole thing. They knew what was happening. They did nothing. Although the stories are told with a contemplating tone, they’re matter of fact. This would be even more troublesome viewing but for the way this documentary is assembled. The voices are intercut with a mix of archive and present day footage of the places spoken of. This along with text illustrating the numbers of people lost and the sombre strings of the score, make this necessarily bleak. Some admit their guilt, but hide behind semantics. Others openly stand by Hitler. It’s shocking. It should be. These people should be looked upon as criminals. If they’re too old and indoctrinated to feel the shame they should, it’s for future generations to carry. Never forget. It can’t happen again.