The Commandant's Shadow 12A

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The Commandant’s Shadow follows Hans Jürgen Höss, the 87-year-old son of Rudolf Höss, as he faces his father’s terrible legacy for the first time. His father was the Camp Commandant of Auschwitz and masterminded the murder of over a million Jews; the life of Höss and his family was recently fictionalised in the Academy Award-winning The Zone of Interest. Now, The Commandant’s Shadow tells the story of the real people who lived on site at Höss’s death camp.

While Hans Jurgen Höss enjoyed a happy childhood in the family villa at Auschwitz, Jewish prisoner Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was trying to survive the notorious concentration camp. At the heart of this film is the historic and inspiring moment – eight decades later – when the two come face-to-face. This is the first time the descendant of a major war criminal meets a survivor in such a private and intimate setting, Anita’s London living room. Together with their children, Kai Höss and Maya Lasker-Wallfisch, the four protagonists explore their very different hereditary burdens.

The film features original excerpts of Rudolf Höss’ long-forgotten autobiography, written shortly before his execution. His words are the ultimate proof of what really happened at Auschwitz, documented by the perpetrator himself, countering denial and ignorance of the Holocaust.

This once-in-a-lifetime feature-length documentary explores the relationships of a mother and her daughter, a father and his son, and the long shadows cast by the crimes that impact generations. It raises questions about love, guilt, and forgiveness, but is ultimately a much-needed story of hope, acceptance, and compassion.

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Director
Daniela Völker
Year
2024
Duration
1 hour 43 minutes
Language
English

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