Liberation (2004)

by | Aug 8, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Liberation (2004)

Directed by: Arnold Schwartzman
Narrated by: Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Ben Kingsley
Written by: Sir Martin Gilbert & Rabbi Marvin Hier
Studio: Moriah Films/Koch Lorber Films
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: ****

Liberation, a companion DVD and follow-up to Genocide (1981), details
concurrently the war activity against Nazi Germany from 1939 to 1945 as
well as the continuing slaughter of the Jews by Hitler’s forces and his
collaborators. Using primarily archival footage and original
broadcasts, narration is mainly by Patrick Stewart.

Liberation, produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Moriah Films, as
has been a number of other documentaries, is an excellent historical
account of World War II in Europe. Effectively juxaposed are riveting,
very personal experiences of Jewish persecution and murders during
Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

From the time of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1939 
through the defeat of Germany in 1945 and the liberation of the death
camps, we are given an absorbing presentation of high points of the
war. After watching battle strategies, victories and defeats  as
well as the continuing murders of Jews in the cities and the
camps,  the scenes of the rescue of Jews from the camps and huge
crowds finally celebrating, singing and shouting on the streets in New
York, London and Paris are, of course, a relief to see.

Though most of us are aware of the years-long apathy of the rest of the
world to the plight of the European Jews, this film reinforces the
fact of the unbelievable apathy via various accounts.  Here are
examples:  By 1942 news of the extermination had reached the West.
Pope Pious the 12th would not join the West in public denunication of
the mass killings, as he wanted to avoid offending German Catholics.
The only march in Washington consisted of 400 European rabbis demanding
action on behalf of the Jews of Europe. Roosevelt refused to meet with
them.

Resistance did grow in Europe. In Holland leaflets proclaimed “Whoever
remains glued to his chair will have to explain himself after the
liberation.” News of D-Day reached everywhere. Anne Frank wrote in her
diary “I have the feeling friends are approaching.” Allied troops
liberated more than 100 camps. Finally, the survivors saw faces of
compassion. The film concludes with the words of Winston Churchill on
the BBC announcing the end of the war on’ May 8, 1945: “Do not despair.
Do not yield to tyranny. March straight forward and die if need be,
unconquered.”

Liberation is an excellent companion piece to two other extraordinary  films reviewed on this website, Genocide and Unlikely Heroes.

-Donna Dorsett

 

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