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The Last Days

Director:James Moll
Writer:
October Films; 88 minutes; unrated
Release:2/99
With:Tom Lantos, Alice Lok Cahana, Renee Firestone, Bill Basch, Irene Zisblatt

This excellent documentary retells the last days of Hitler's Final Solution through five of its survivors, detailing how he redoubled his efforts to exterminate the Jews knowing full well it would detract from his efforts at world conquest. From U.S. Congressman Lantos to the artist Cahana, all the people offer intelligent hope as they tell their stories of survival, interspersed with the bleaker, hard-hitting footage of their starved and dying companions whose grim fate was the norm rather than the exception.

The problem with positing the Holocaust as the ultimate evil is — as recent genocides in Rwanda and Yugoslavia prove — humanity's capacity for cruelty is capable of assuming myriad forms. The Last Days provokes the need for memory, intervention, and hope; a documentary whose invocation of the past is meant for cautionary future use.