Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal defends Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List"


French director Claude Lanzmann’s lengthy documentary, “Shoah,” was released in 1985. He interviewed survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis; there were no actors. On March 26, 1994, the Dutch daily evening newspaper, “NRC Handelsblad,” published on its “Opinion” page, “‘Schindler’s List’ is an impossible story” by Claude Lanzmann (typescript of Lanzmann’s essay is present). Two days earlier, “Schindler’s List” had won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director (Steven Spielberg).

(1) Autograph Manuscript Signed “S Wiesenthal” in ink and “S.W.” in pencil, four pages, 8.5” x 11”, separate sheets, each 3-hole loose-leaf punched. In German in dark pencil on verso of four sheets of his April 1990 “Travel Itinerary” publicizing his new book, “Justice Not Vengeance.” With complete English translation.

In part, “Every movie about the Holocaust represents a struggle to make sure it will never be forgotten. The comments ‘Shoah’ director Clause Lanzmann made regarding Spielberg’s movie ‘Schindler’s List’ are unacceptable for many reasons. Lanzmann writes, Spielberg has insulted his movie ‘Shoah’ and claims that two escapees from Wilna had told him that they had been forced to dig up corpses from, a mass grave and burn these corpses on wooden stakes, and that they had to do all this with their bare hands. Speilberg showed such a scene in his movie ‘Schindler’s List’ as having taken place at the Plaszow camp, but it actually did not happen there.

“Well, what did really happen? Did Spielberg steal this very scene from ‘Shoah’? Lanzmann is insinuating just that when he writes that he heard Spielberg had watched three times the ‘Shoah’ video of which he owns a copy. I personally witnessed these happenings at the Plaszow Camp ... It was at the beginning of September 1944. Just like in the movie ... The digging up and burning of corpses not only took place in Wilna, Lemberg, and Stanislaw, but at dozens of other places as well, wherever the Nazis as they were retreating were trying to wipe away the traces of their crimes...

“In Lanzmann’s view, the Spielberg movie is a ‘fiction.’ The movie is ‘not honest’ as he is saying. Some dispute whether the Holocaust should even have been made the subject of a movie. Lanzmann only took a different approach, as there does not exist a generally accepted ban on depicting in a movie the tragedy brought upon the Jews. This, however, does not give him the right, writing about Spielberg ‘He is crafty...”


(2) Photograph Signed “S Wiesenthal.” Black & white, 4” x 4.25” image, overall 4” x 5.75”. Fine condition.




Item: 55228

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Simon Wiesenthal
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