The Last of the Unjust

In 1975, while making his landmark Holocaust documentary Shoah, Claude Lanzmann interviewed Benjamin Murmelstein. Age 70 and living in exile in Rome, Murmelstein was the only surviving “Jewish Elder” appointed by the Nazis to run the “model ghetto” camp at Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia. Murmelstein’s interview wasn’t included in Shoah, but it’s the focus of this compelling postscript. Condemned after the war as a collaborator, he explains the terrible accommodation he had to strike with a murderous regime. Lanzmann returns to sites that marked Murmelstein’s wartime experiences and uncovers their savage history, but it’s the intelligent, witty, courageous Murmelstein who provides the film’s most compelling testimony. Comparing himself to Scheherazade from “The Arabian Nights,” Murmelstein survived, he tells Lanzmann, because he “had a story to tell.”

Genres: Documentary