Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top 100 Holocaust Films

[First published for Jewish Heritage Month, for my Jewish friends. No matter what your religion (or lack of one) everyone deserves justice and dignity in life, that should be basic human right that we all should fight for vigilantly]

I received this following message via email on 4/17/2012, and did not know about this observance in Israel, so I'm sure many of you don't as well, so I wanted to repeat this here: "Tomorrow evening is in Israel what we call Yom HaShoa, Holocaust Day. The Memorial day for the Jews who perished then. While it is not a holiday, light memorial candles for the known and unknown members of our families and others who died at the time. No music is heard and nothing that could be termed entertainment is open (e.g. bars, gyms) and the TV program only shows films related to the holocaust. (Which is one of the reasons I have seen so many of those that you list). - Adriana Marin Grez 

She also suggests that if possible, we donate to a holocaust survivors charity, as many survivors are still alive and living below poverty level. Here's a legitimate one in Israel: The Zdaka Center

Holocaust Films

These are all the holocaust films I found in my research, both ranked and unranked. I'm sure I've missed some, and some are borderline, see the note below the list. Many of these will not be for children, and some are definitely not for the squeamish, as this is about as horrifying as mankind can become.

RANKED [updated 4.17.12]

1. Schindler's List [Spielberg, 1993] #30 [photo top]
2. Shoah [Lanzmann, 1985] #98 Up since 2009
3. The Pianist [Polanski, 2004] #142 New since 2009
4. Army of Shadows [Melville, 1969] #277 Up since 2009
5. Downfall [Hirschbiegel, 2004] #327 New since 2009
6. Triumph of the Will [Riefenstahl, 1935] #614 Down since 2009 - this propaganda film shot by actress Leni Riefenstahl at Hitler's 'request' is tough to watch but demonstrates the power of both patriotism and propaganda. Everyone should see this so you can see how people can be manipulated by the media - Riefenstahl apologized after the war but I think she made a necessary record of evil for everyone to see, and like many, she was optimistic and bought into the disinformation and deception
7. Night and Fog [Resnais, 1955] #413 Up since 2009
8. Life is Beautiful [Begnini, 1997] #445 Up since 2009
9. Come and See [Klimov, 1985] #491 This terrific film is moving up in ranking; the same story was filmed in English as Defiance, but this is the more harrowing and passionate film
10. Au Revoir Les Enfants [Malle, 1987] #872 Up since 2009
11. Hitler: A Film from Germany [Syberberg, 1977] #1219 Down since 2009

Ironically, Oskar Schindler was a failed capitalist who saw an opportunity to succeed with cheap Jewish labor in WW2, and only later developed a conscience.

Shoah is absolutely gut-wrenching, interviews with survivors from both sides, and not for the squeamish; it has some horrifying descriptions, but is a 9 1/2 hr masterpiece of devotion to a cause.

Triumph of the Will from the brilliant actress turned director Leni Reifenstahl doesn't deal with the holocaust directly, but one can see the roots develop in this brilliant piece of propaganda filmmaking which shows the rise to power of the Nazis. The film was so successful worldwide that Time Magazine awarded Hitler "Man of the Year" in 1935! Her Olympia documented the 1936 summer Olympics held in Berlin, which was to be a showcase for the superiority of the German race; even though American sprinter Jesse Owens stunned this image by sweeping his races, the Germans did win the most medals overall. However, during this period public anti-Semitism was hidden away briefly to fool the athletes and press by showing a false and peaceful Berlin.

Army of Shadows is an engrossing film of the French underground, based on a true story. Come and See is a harrowing Russian film of the Nazi invasion of Belorus, a defenseless agrarian region of small villages that became the scorched earth. It was the massive effort it took by the army to destroy a populace here that led to the invention of what the Nazi command called "the final solution".

UNRANKED (alphabetical)

1. A Generation Apart [1984]
2. A Secret [2007]
3. Adam Resurrected [2008]
4. All My Loved Ones [2000]
5. America and the Holocaust [1994]
6. Angry Harvest [1985]
7. Anne Frank Remembered [1995]
8. Anne Frank: The Life of a Young Girl []
9. Anne Frank: The Whole Story [2001]
10. Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State [2005]
11. Autumn Hearts: A New Beginning [2007]
12. Billy Graham: The Hiding Place [1975]
13. Bonhoeffer [2003]
14. Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace [2000]
15. Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The [2008]
16. Boys From Brazil, The [1978]
17. Century of Simon Wiesenthal, The [1994]
18. Charlotte Gray [2001]
19. Children of Chabannes, The [1999]
20. Civilization and the Jews [1984]
21. Conspiracy [2001]
22. Counterfeiters, The [2007]
23. Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, The [2009]
24. Dear Mr. Waldman [2006]
25. Defamation [2008]
26. Defiance [2008]
27. Devil's Arithmatic, The [1999]
28. Diary of Anne Frank, The [1959]
29. Diplomats for the Damned [2008]
30. Drancy Avenir [1997]
31. Edges of the Lord [2001]
32. Ever Again [2006]
33. Everything Is Illuminated [2005]
34. Fate Did Not Let Me Go [2003]
35. Fateless [2005, Hungary] - love this story, of a kid who survives the camps, enjoys the comraderie of being with his people; for him it was an asylum from the war - amazing!
36. Forgiving Dr. Mengele [2006]
37. Frontline: Shtetl [1996]
38. Fugitive Pieces [2007]
39. Garden of the Finzi-Continis, The [1970]
40. God On Trial [2008]
41. Good Evening Mr. Wallenberg [1990]
42. Goodnight, Mister Tom [1998]
43. Hidden Child, The [2007]
44. Hidden Heroes [1999]
45. Hiding Place, The [1975]
46. Holocaust: Dachau and Sachsenhausen [2005]
47. Holocaust: Ravensbruck and Buchenwald [2006]
48. Holocaust: The Liberation of Auschwitz [2005]
49. Holocaust: The Liberation of Majdanek [2006]
50. Holocaust: Theresienstadt [2005]
51. I Have Never Forgotten You [2006]
52. I'm Still Here [2008] 53. Imaginary Witness [2004]
54. Incident at Vichy [2002] 55. Inheritance [2006]
56. Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport  [2000] #1542
57. Jacob the Liar [1975]
58. Jakob the Liar [1999]
59. Kapó [1959] Italy
60. Last Days, The [1998]
61. Left Luggage [1998]
62. Lies and Whispers [1998]
63. Long Way Home, The [1997]
64. Making Choices [1005]
65. Man in the Glass Booth, The [1975]
66. Massacre in Rome [1973]
67. Maximilian: Saint of Auschwitz [1995]
68. Memory Thief, The [2007]
69. Miracle at Midnight [1998]
70. Miriam [2006]
71. My Heart is Mine Alone [1997]
72. Nazi Officer's Wife, The [2003]
73. Ninth Day, The [2004]
74. November Moon [1984]
75. Pawnbroker, The [1965]
76. Rape of Europa, The [2007]
77. Reader, The [2008] #2175
78. Rose Garden, The [1989]
79. Rotation [1949]
80. Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Rescuers[2003]
81. Secrets of the Dead: Escape from Auschwitz [2008]
82. Shadows in Paradise: Hitler's Exiles [2008]
83. Shop on Main Street, The [1965]
84. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days [2005]
85. Sophie's Choice [1982]
86. The Sorrow and the Pity [1969]
87. Steal a Pencil for Me [2007]
88. Triumph of the Spirit [1989]
89. Verdict on Auschwitz [1993]
90. Voyages [1999]
91. Watermarks [2005]
92. Who Betrayed Anne Frank? [1998]

Thanks to Adriana Marin Grez, who suggested the addition of these films, which I will add here first, along with her descriptions, as I haven't seen any of these myself:

1) The Round Up ( French: La Rafle ) is a 2010 French film directed by Roselyne Bosch and produced by Alain Goldman. Based on the true story of a young Jewish boy, the film depicts the Vel d'Hiv roundup, the mass arrest of Jews by French police who were Nazi accomplices in Paris in July 1942.

2)  A Square of Sky (German: Ein Stueck Himmel)  is a 1982 television series (10 episodes) based on the australian book "A square of sky" written by Janina David, who survived as a child the Warsaw ghetto and its upraising. She was saved by being smuggled out of the ghetto and into a christian convent.

3) The Summer of Aviya . ( Hebrew: הקיץ של אביה ‎, translit. Ha-Kayitz Shel Aviya). The 1989 film is based on a Hebrew language book that became a bestseller. The 1985 autobiographical novel by theater actress Gila Almagor is a memoir of Almagor's childhood and provides insights into Israeli society in the early post-state period.

4) New Land . A 1994 israeli film by Orna Ben Dor, in Hebrew with English subtitles.
It tells the story of 8 year old Anna, who travels from war ravaged Europe to Israel after World War II and their only posessions is a soiled teddy bear and a picture of their mother. Anna wanders the refugee camp searching for her mother, who she hopes also escaped the Nazis, she meets all sorts of characters with painful and colorful stories of their own.

5) Blessed is the Match:Life and Death of Hanna Senesh
At age 22, Hannah Senesh was safe in Palestine in 1944 when she joined the only military rescue mission for Jews during the Holocaust. She was one of only two women to take part in the mission. One of the reasons she did it, was because her mother and brother were stuck in Hungary and she wanted to get them out.

6)   Tadeusz Pankiewicz (a Polish film).
It tells the story of the Polish roman catholic pharmacist, who found his "Under the Eagle" apothecary suddenly in the middle of the Krakow ghetto when the Nazis set it up.  The pharmacy became a meeting place for the ghetto's intelligentsia, and a hub of underground activity. Pankiewicz and his staff risked their lives to undertake numerous clandestine operations: smuggling food and information, and offering shelter on the premises for Jews facing deportation to the camps.

7) A Film Unfinished .
In May 1942 -- two and half years after the Warsaw Ghetto was established and shortly before the Nazis sent the Ghetto's first 300,000 Jews to the extermination camp of Treblinka -- the Reich dispatched a crew of German soldiers to film Jewish life in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Their perverse propaganda goal: to record for posterity examples of the religious practices and "sub-human culture" of the soon to be eliminated judische Rasse , everything from a circumcision ceremony to a burial service; from the extreme poverty of the many to the supposed lack of concern of those few Jews who still had some assets.


Escape From Sobibor (1987, d. Jack Gold) - UK/Yugoslavia; another starring Rutger Hauer, w Alan Arkin
Sarah's Key (2010, d. Gilles Paquet-Brenner) - France; stars Kristen Scott Thomas
Levin und Gutman (1983) - listed at IMDB as a German TV series
Jona che visse nella balena (Jonah Who Lived in the Whale, 1993, d. Roberto Faenza) - Italy

[I just saw the trailer for NO PLACE ON EARTH, 2012, Germany, dir by Janet Tobias - that definitely looks to belong on this list; a documentary, it tells the story of a small band of Russian Jews in the Ukraine who hid in a cave for 18 months to escape the Nazis, and some lived to tell about it, and also appear for interviews in this film; I can't imagine being underground in a Russian winter, or never seeing the sky - I'll have to see this and report back w a review -- Jose, 10/31/13]

Additional Notes:


Of this list, I would definitely rank the films Garden of the Finzi-Continis and The Shop on Main St., also the Oscar®-winning true story about using imprisoned Jewish forgers to print U.S. and British currency in  The Counterfeiters.

Other films may belong here, some of these may not. I thought about Seven Beauties but since it was about POW's and not the holocaust directly, I didn't include it, but it also helps paint another portrait of the nightmare.

The Night Porter was about the long-lasting effects of the war on a former prisoner and her torturer, brilliantly played by Charlotte Rampling and Dirk Bogarde, directed by Liliana Cavani, also not included above as it had nothing directly to do with the holocaust, though Rampling's character was a teenaged Jewish girl selected for sexual experiments due to her sensual beauty, similar to Susan Strasburg's character in Pontecorvo's Kapo. This was really more an esoteric love story based on sado-masochism than anything else.

I would also rank Nowhere in Africa (Oscar® for foreign language film), about a Jewish mother who takes her daughter to Kenya to escape the war. There the war seems almost non-existant, so this becomes a story more about different cultures mixing than anything more catastrophic. It's a beautiful film, on the same level (and better in some ways) as best-picture winner Out of Africa. In fact, it's currently one of my top 100 favorite films.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)? does this belong - I think with an Oscar®-winning character created by Christolph Waltz called "The Jew Hunter", this dark fantasy warrants inclusion, even with Brad Pitt's ridiculous Southern accent. Though, of course, the kicking shoe in this one was on the other foot. Being a fantasy, and another 'revenge' film as well, this film likely offended as many people as it pleased.

[Note: This post has now been viewed 86,000 times, as of 10/31/13]


Chris said...

what a comprehensive list! thanks for putting this together. i just posted a book review of The Hidden Children on my blog at http://holokauston.wordpress.com - Never Again!

Special said...

This is very good list.

nitin said...

Really!! is it like that? i have not seen all of those movies but i have seen most of those and i think you are right to a very good aspect. i watche those movies through Watch Action movies.i will suggest you too for visiting this site if you want your list more interesting than that.

CMrok93 said...

You can so easily just make a Holocaust film, and guaranteed it will spur a lot of Oscar buzz.

Jose Sinclair said...

CMrok - as far as I can tell, the only real Oscar winners on this list are Schindler's and Life is Beautiful, and Counterfeiters, the latter two winning Foreign Language Film.. it seems like Oscar is really more interested in special effects extravaganzas like Titanic, Lord of the Rings, Avatar - at least for technical Oscars..

This sounds like the same ppl who cry "liberal media" while 90% of all media is owned and controlled by conservatives (ie, "big money"), and an even higher total supported Nixon, even after Watergate (above 95%)

Anonymous said...

How is Salo a holocaust film? unusual cruelty sure but holocaust? no.

putting defamation in the list is a bit of a cheat as well. its not about the holocaust rather about general anti-semitism and the ways it is exploited by both jew and gentile.

@ jose sinclair

while holocaust films may not regularly win oscars they are pretty much guaranteed to be nominated and that is what CMrok is referring to by 'buzz'

Anonymous said...

The Pianist by Polanski is an excellent Holocaust film

Jose Sinclair said...

Now that I've seen Salo, I think I will remove it from the list. I haven't seen all of these but added some titles if others had them listed as holocaust films. I've also used some suggestions from others.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll try to continually improve the list and add new titles that become available.

As one historian said, "these images need to burned into our collective psyche".

We owe it to the victims to find the courage to watch all their stories.

- Lawrence -

Rich Katz said...

Thank you for your lists, particularly this one. Film is a wonderful and effective way to reach people's heads and hearts and can help us all recognize and acknowledge the similarities in our stories, and when any one group of us suffers, we all fail.

Daniel Dickey said...

Great list. Thank you!!

ashish naithani said...

Dear Rich Katz
I am moved to the core of my heat,by your comments
well said

whitney4 said...

Please include films: "Sunshine", "Playing for Time", "Out of the Ashes","Fateless","Amen", "Ghetto","Closely Watched Trains","The Boat is Full", "Good Evening, Mr.Wallenburg,"The Murderers are Among Us","Night & Fog","Uprising","Exodus","Naked Among Wolves" & "Good". This list is one of the most compehensive seen & please excuse me if I repeated any film suggestions already listed by you. I was very impressed with the list you have compiled & felt compelled to offer some suggestions. Thank you & keep enjoying the power of film as I do.

Mr.RXS said...

The Grey Zone should be on this list. The ending to that movie left me speechless.

MarkOverMars said...

So many movies that i never saw.
Now with your fantastic article i can start and watch this movie one by one, i'm so exited.

Anonymous said...

LR should have, with AS, swung from the gallows at Nuremb....both the best con artists in the Nazi Ranks.

Anonymous said...

French Underground........WHAT french underground?? They were so few and made NO difference in the war.
DeGaulles french in Britain, yes, but France was ready to start speaking German, the population was overwhelmingly backing Vichy and MP.

Really, time to put this "french underground" myth behind.....

Anonymous said...

Escape from Sobibor is another excellent true story. I saw it first on TV in the 80's and I have never forgotten it.

taufiqismail said...

Nice list, you got tumblr, follow me at http://greatmoviereview.tumblr.com/

Anonymous said...

Sarah's Key was also a great movie!

online high school diploma said...

I was really happy to arrive this site.I needed to thank you for this fantastic list of films I certainly visit again thanks ..

Jose Sinclair said...

Levin und Gutman (1985) - was recommended by German, with a link to a German review

Stephanie Mitchel said...

How about The Sorrow and the Pity (Le chagrin et la pitié)? Surely that deserves a place in your list.

Anonymous said...

Can I add one that I really liked but very few people know?
It's called Jonah Who Lived in the Whale (1993) direceted by Roberto Faenza.


Jessica said...

Get rid of 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas' unless you happen to think murdering Jews is a good idea, and only a bad one if you don't build the barriers high enough to allow nice people to wander through and get exterminated instead. Obscene.

José Sinclair said...

Good catch on The Sorrow and the Pity - I thought it was on here..

José Sinclair said...

Jessica - I haven't seen Boy in the Striped Pajamas yet.. but your comment is confusing.. I'll check out the film and see if I can figure out your comment.. of course "murdering Jews" is not a good idea, yet many holocaust films deal with not only this, but Jews turning in Jews for money, like Paul Verhoeven's excellent 2006 film Black Book, about a Jewish double agent posing as a blond gentile to try to crack the 'mole' in their midst who is turning over escaping Jews to the Nazis for part of the wealth they are taking with them.. based on a true story
-- Jose

prafulla said...

Thank you so much...i searched all possible way to grab list of best nazi's film....here u have arranged in one set. hope to see all.

Christopher Francis said...

Am hoping someone can help me identify a Holocaust-related movie I have been haunted by to this day. I believe I saw it on TV in the '80s, so not sure if it was theatrical release being screened on TV or a made for TV movie. The defining moment in it for me is a shower scene, where, unlike "Schindler's List", it actually is a gas chamber. I remember lots of women coughing and screaming and my being really almost in a PTSD state for some days after. Does anyone know what film this might be and for all I know (as I haven't seen but a couple), maybe many Holocaust-related movies have similar shower scenes... Any help you could give me would be much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

How about Playing for Time. Release date was 1980.

Jason Allen Goodlin said...

Never imagined there would 100 Holocaust Films to list. I commend you for assembling this list.

José Sinclair said...

re - 100 films -- the list is growing and if I included ALL, it would likely be over 200.. I appreciate the help and suggestions from all over the world.. we can make this a "Reference Library" on the subject..

I agree w historians who say "We need these images burned into our collective psyche so we don't allow it to happen again, to anyone"

.. Jose ..

Charlie said...

The Boy in the Striped pajamas is a good movie

Anonymous said...

Add to the list, "Lore" by Cate Shortland (Australia) in German, taken from the story of that name by Rachel Seiffert, in 'The Dark Room.' Also, 'Into that Darkness' by Agniewska Holland (on survivors in the sewers of Lvov); two films about Lena Kuchler Silberman, who rescued children after the war: Lena: my 100 Children (biopic) and a documentary: My 100 children (confusing, I know); Irena Sendler, who rescued 2500 children from the Warsaw ghetto: In the Name of their Mothers (a PBS documentary); 'Nicky's Family,' a documentary about Nicholas Winton, who organized Kindertransports from Prague in 1938-39 and saved 650 children. More to follow.

Anonymous said...

'Island on Bird Street' from novel by noted author-survivor, Uri Orlev (survival of a kid in the Warsaw ghetto); I don't recall seeing Andrij Wajda's film, Korzcak, on the list (Warsaw ghetto and legendary educator who went with his orphans to Treblinka); 'The Last Butterfly; (Czech-UK production) about a non-Jewish mime sent to Terezin under false pretenses; 'Prisoner of Paradise,' an account of the famous director, Kurt Gerron, who made the propaganda film, 'The Fuhrer gives a City to the Jews' and sent to Auschwitz thereafter; and speaking of Terezin, several films by well known Czech directors: Transport from Paradise; Distant Journey; and for another Czech masterpiece, 'The Fifth Horseman is Fear,' did. Brynych. and a more recent one, 'Divided We Fall.' Hungarian: 'The Revolt of Job,' and 'Gloomy Sunday.' and 'Killing Kastner' (a documentary) and 'Perlasca' (Italian in Budapest who posed as the Spanish consul to save Jews); Partisans: Partisans of Vilna' and 'Defiance.' France: Claude Lelouch, Les Miserables (a rewriting of the great novel for Vichy France); the sequel to 'Summer of Aviya' is 'Under the Domim Tree' about a youth village of teenaged survivors in Israel; also 'Because of that War,' documentary about rock singer Yehuda Poliker and his lyricist, both children of survivors (in Israel); and check out the catalogue of National Center for Jewish Film:

Anonymous said...

Please add John Rabe, Perlasca, Korczak, and Edges of The Lord.

Anonymous said...

Could be the TV miniseries "Holocaust" with Meryl Streep and Kames Woods among others.

Anonymous said...

Judgement at Nuremburg 1961 with Spencer Tracy, Maximillian Schell, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich. Also film Escape From Sobibor starring Rutger Hauer, Alan Arkin, Joanna Pacula and Hartmut Becker.

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Can anyone help me remember the name of a movie? It was shown (I believe) on the Disney channel back in the early 90's. I remember it was about 2 girlfriends. One was Jewish and the other was Catholic. I think the Catholic friend had her parents adopt her friend? Does this ring any bells? I really want to know what this movie was called! Big thanks in advance!

Mike said...

Wonderful list. I came across this list while searching for the title of a movie I recently rented and can't remember the name. It begins with the Jewish wife of a successful American Univ. scholar hosting a party for some honor he has just received. She is chain smoking and not herself because she has learned that her (I think) Polish lover who was an underground fighter and imprisoned with her in a concentration camp, and with whom she escaped, and who hid her in his mother's home, and who she thought was dead, may be alive. it ends with her traveling to Poland to meet him. Can anyone help with the title of this film? Many thanks. Email me at mross txcc com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the list.
Please add "Europa, Europa."

Anonymous said...

, the film just mention keeps coming up on my Netflix menu...next time I'm on, I'll check unless you find it first.. It's good
A few more..Rosenstrasse, Hart's War, Good,, Amen, Yanks,the Thin Red Line, The Last Drop, The Woman in Room.....something like that, Treblinka, Miracle at Midnight, Hidden in Silence, Steal a Pencil for Me.
This list is helpful.
Besides Netflixx, how are people renting these? Red Box isn.t helpful and the video rentals are around anymore.

Evelyn Cartwright said...

Hi, to everyone. I have been for many years trying to look out for a movie on the Holocaust. It was a very impacting first movie I saw when I was about 11yrs. old. I saw it on tv. as a mini-series on the Spanish channel of the time. It was similar to Holocaust the movie series but with a great distinction. The story was mainly on the daughter of the family when they got transported to the camp. I say distinction as this mini-series had real footage of scenes as the story was shown. The daughter of this family was the lone survivor of apparently based on true story. I was very moved by this movie and I would really appreciate it if someone could give me a clue of what this mini-series was called. I believe the ending was that she was crying against the fence as her sister only member of family alive had passed away and the news came around the war was over. Also when she was working gathering their own properties ie clothes, shoes etc,etc, she had come across some wallet or something that belonged to her father. I have very vague memory on this film but it certainly impacted me very much as I believe it was my first Holocaust movie thus as I say it had real life footage in between it too. Thx to anyone who can help me with this one. I nearly forgot to mention I saw this on the late 70,s or very early 80,s.

Evelyn Cartwright said...

I was impacted by this mini series i do no remember its name. I saw it on the late 70,s on a Spanish channel. I was about 11 yrs old it was similar to the mini series Holocaust but with a very impacting distinction it had real life footage in between some scenes. The story was based on the sole survivor of the family , the only daughter from 2 . It was the first ever movie I had seen on the atrocities committed. Shame I do not remember what this movie was called so I call onto anyone out here that could help me find it as I would love to share this movie with my 13yr old son. Thx.