Archives for posts with tag: Poland

Meeting

Werner Herzog gained intimate access to the last leader of the Soviet Union for this watchable documentary. Herzog, who comes across as the consummate dork throughout, mainly confines his questioning to the realm of historical platitude, but crosses the line into outright tastelessness in prodding the aged Gorbachev to discuss his agony over his wife’s death from leukemia: “How much do you miss her?” Even so, the film, combining interview segments with archival footage, does manage to produce a few moments of interest, with Herzog’s thesis presenting Gorbachev as a tragic figure deserving of audiences’ sympathy. Oddly, the elder statesman is one of those individuals who looks like a completely different person in old age, with even his signature birthmark seeming to have changed color over time – so let the retarded Paul-is-dead impostor conspiracy-theorizing commence!

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Meeting Gorbachev is:

Anti-Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a “reckless type”, Gorbachev laments, reflecting, “I should have sent him off somewhere.”

Pro-German. “I believe we have a common destiny with the Germans,” says Gorbachev, who grew up with German neighbors. “I personally feel that they are our closest friends.” Ultra-cuck Herzog, however, makes sure to remind viewers of the 25 million citizens of the Soviet Union killed by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Anti-nuke and anti-Trump. Gorbachev remains committed to nuclear disarmament, and Margaret Thatcher emerges as an antagonistic force in her more belligerent nuclear stance. “It’s a shame that the current American president declared he will modernize their nuclear arsenal,” observes Horst Teltschik, National Security Advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Pro-NATO and anti-Putin. Teltschik downplays the threat that NATO poses to Russia. “But we have to get back to having reasonable discussions with Russia,” says Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, “and probably that takes some sort of a jolt for Mr. Putin to realize that the hostility is not good […]” Disappointingly, Gorbachev is not permitted to say much of anything about Russia under Putin.

Socialist! “More democracy – that was our first and foremost goal,” says Gorbachev. “I also wanted more socialism!” The film does allow, however, for “errors in centralized planning” having contributed to the Soviet Union’s demise. Polish Solidarity leader Lech Walesa is accused of “sinister reasoning” in his determination to take advantage of Gorbachev’s sincere desire for reform. “He really believed that he could reform communism,” Walesa scoffs. “Of course, I and many others knew communism couldn’t be reformed.” “Rather than dissolving the Union,” Gorbachev believes, “we should have given the republics more rights.”

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Drugs, Jungles, and Jingoism.

 

Hebrew Cover

Got Gas?

After taking a break of a week or so to recuperate, your humble reviewer has finally mustered the courage to venture back into the Danger: Boredom Zone and finish watching the communo-Zionist “Holocaust” propaganda documentary Shoah. Following are a few of his observations on the contents of disc four, comprising the exciting conclusion. (Discs 5 and 6 of the Criterion Collection set promise “special” [i.e., T4-worthy] features.)

Fredy Hirsch

Fredy Hirsch, Auschwitz’s tragic Prom Queen

This straggling stretch of the much-lauded, long-winded, and stupendously self-important film, irrespective of the intentions of director Claude Lanzmann, provides some valuable insights into how and why false rumors of extermination by gassing spread among European Jewry during the war. Rudolf Vrba, a dishonest-faced Jew who was given duties as a registrar in Auschwitz, recalls attempts by communist inmates to secure the cooperation of Fredy Hirsch, a homosexual Zionist with leadership ability, for a violent uprising within the camp. Unfortunately, Vrba’s claims that a mass gassing of prisoners was to occur within two days only drove Hirsch to commit suicide. It also comes out in the interviews that the Czech internees in the camp were unmoved by Vrba’s gassing stories, spotting these as they did for wild prevarications.

Rudolf Vrba

Smiling liar Rudolf Vrba

Explaining his decision to escape rather than go forward with a revolt, Vrba says that his intention was to spread abroad rumors of mass exterminations at Auschwitz: “I thought zat if zis will be made known by any means wizin Europe and especially wizin Hungary, from where a million Jews were supposed to be transported to Auschwitz immediately [. . .] zat zis might stir up ze resistance outside and bring help from outside directly to Auschwitz.”

Filip Muller

Sonderkommando (i.e., Jewish Nazi lackey) Filip Muller

Another of Lanzmann’s seemingly endless procession of talkative tellers of tales of heroic “Holocaust” survival is Filip Muller, who claims to have worked as a sonderkommando, forced by the SS to assist in the gas chamber exterminations. Before proceeding to unleash his terrors, Muller makes a dramatic show of being too emotionally discombobulated to continue with his story (a pretentious objection repeated by more than one of Shoah‘s interviewees – always valiantly overcome for the sake of history and remembrance!), but then promptly sets about rambling again and rattling off a self-aggrandizing anecdote.

Muller, claiming to have witnessed one brutalization too many at the entrance to the gas chamber at Auschwitz, says that he resolved to die and to join in the chamber the Czechs he was supposed to be gassing. The Czech women, however, objected and told him, “Your death won’t give us back our lives. [. . .] You must get out of here alive, you must bear witness to our suffering, and to the injustice done to us.” For this reason – to warn and enlighten posterity – and for this reason alone did Muller refuse to die along with those women, he says. So, if this yarn-spinner is to be given credence, it would seem that some of the Nazis’ victims had the leisure of making melodramatic speeches at the gates of Hell itself and that others, furthermore, actually had the privilege of deciding for themselves whether or not they would be exterminated.

Jan Karski“They didn’t look like human beings,” Polish courier Jan Karski says of the Jews whose indignities he witnessed in the Warsaw ghetto.

Also pulling the I’m-too-overcome-with-horror-to-continue shtick, but somehow mustering the fortitude to persevere, is old Jan Karski, who during the war acted as a secret courier moving between the Polish underground and the government in exile. Karski conjures from the hideous mire of his memory a 1942 meeting he had with two Jewish leaders, a communist Bundist and a Zionist, respectively, who sought his assistance in lobbying the Allied governments for arms and for special strategies and actions to liberate the Jews in the concentration camps. “They were whispering. They were hissing. It was a nightmare for me,” Karski recalls of the meeting.

Among these Jewish provocateurs’ uncompromising demands, recounts Karski, were the following: “Let dem [the Allies] make offeeshal declaration, again, offeeshal, public declaration, dat if de German nation does not offer evidence of trying to change de policy of their government, German nation will have to be held responsible for de crimes their government is committing. And now, if der are not such an evidence, to announce publicly, offeeshally, certain objects [i.e., civilian targets] will be bombed, destroyed, as a retaliation for what de German government is doing against de Jews. Dat bombing which will take place is not a part of de military strategy. It deals only with the de Jewish problem.”

Warsaw ghetto“Stench, stench, dirt, stench . . .” Karski recalls of the Warsaw ghetto.

Karski was instructed to visit as many politicians, influential Jews, and leading intellectuals as he could and spook them with the incipient legend of the Final Solution. And so as to instill in Karski a personal understanding and appreciation (sense memories, a Method actor would say) of the squalor of the Warsaw Jews’ situation, he was secretly taken on two private tours of their ghetto. “It wasn’t humanity,” he says in an awkward attempt at pathos in describing the scene he witnessed. “German officers were dere,” and on the streets were the naked bodies of people whose relatives were too cheap to pay the tax for their burial. Other horrors included the sight of peddlers desperately selling cookies and onions and flat-chested Jewesses publicly breastfeeding “babies with some crazy eyes.”

Adam CzerniakowDiarist Adam Czerniakow: the face of nerd revenge deferred

Elsewhere in Shoah the camera goes for a pornographically lurid stagger through a Warsaw cemetery, arriving at the tombstone of Adam Czerniakow, a Jewish community leader whose diary provides a valuable record of the day-to-day happenings in the ghetto. Slack-jowled, oily-nosed Raul Hilberg, editor of the English edition of the diary, puts in another appearance in order to plug the book and to attempt to extrapolate from its contents – its “anxiety”, “rumors”, “premonitions”, and anecdotes about drunken hearse drivers – a kind of preternatural foreknowledge on Czerniakow’s part of the hellish ovens awaiting his people. Ironically, Hilberg, in the midst of painting one of his tableaux of agony, admits that Czerniakow “hasn’t any criticism of the Germans themselves” or how they administered the ghetto – but this, no doubt, is only an implicit indictment of the most ingenious subtlety!

Raul Hilberg

Raul Hilberg assumes the ironic position

One of Shoah‘s most appalling sequences has the sullen Lanzmann badgering a friendly-faced old gentleman named Franz Grassler (sounds a little too suspiciously like “Gasser”, no?), who as Deputy of the Nazi Commissioner of the Warsaw ghetto played a role in trying to keep the residents in good health and free of typhus through hygienic measures. The idea, Grassler explains, was to maintain the Warsaw Jews as a workforce, not to kill them. “Ja,” Lanzmann answers sarcastically, suggesting throughout the interview that Grassler is trying to cover up his complicity in the Final Solution.  Confronting Grassler with Czerniakow’s diary, reading aloud an innocuous passage, and feigning to yank from it some smoking gun like a rabbit from a magician’s hat, Lanzmann finally stabs Grassler with this devastating and unanswerable charge: “You were part of the vast German power structure.” So shut up and feel guilty, you old archfiend!

Franz Grassler

Lanzmann hatchet victim Franz Grassler

Meandering and non-chronological to the end, Shoah concludes with the reminiscences of an Israeli veteran of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising. “If you could lick my heart, it would poison you,” this boring man deadpans, blaming the Germans for his alcoholism. This could have been the tag line for Shoah itself: “Lick the poison heart of the Jews! Sadomasochistically savor the holy blood of Shoah – if you dare!” Either that or “Writhe in penitent boredom, you gentiles!” In the final analysis, however, this reviewer arrives at the judgment that this oldie-but-goodie would probably be most appropriate to describe Lanzmann’s 9.5-hour opus:

Shoah“It’s a gas!” – Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler

As of writing, your humble reviewer has waded his way through discs one and two of the Criterion Collection’s 6-disc DVD release of Claude Lanzmann’s 9.5-hour Shoah (1985), which purports to tell the true story of the “Holocaust” of six million Jews through the testimonies of survivors, eyewitnesses, and participants, all adding up to a “fiction of the real”, as Lanzmann himself put it.

Claude Lanzmann 2Lanzmann scheming

Lanzmann, a French Zionist, communist, and personal messenger for Mao Zedong who interviewed movie stars for French magazines in the 60s, had during the 50s been, with “with [mentor Jean-Paul] Sartre’s blessing – Beauvoir’s lover, ‘the only man with whom [feminist lowlife] Simone de Beauvoir lived a quasi-marital existence’.” According to Beauvoir in her memoir, Lanzmann’s “rancour with respect to the goys never went away.” Shoah, if nothing else, is certainly evidence of that. Beauvoir also says that the wayward, paranoid, and tantrum-prone Lanzmann would sometimes wake from nightmares screaming “You’re all Kapos!”

Claude LanzmannLanzmann in uniform

Shoah plays like this man’s smirking, smoldering, self-absorbed, joyous, and seemingly interminable slow-motion nightmare. To watch it is to experience intermittent boredom and fascination, as sluggishly panning shots of fields and roads intermingle with alternately colorful or mundane interviews.

SrebnikSimon Srebnik looking forlorn for the camera

The first pitiful Jew viewers are offered for adoration is shifty-eyed Simon Srebnik, who claims to have seen fire shooting from death camp chimneys into the sky. “I dreamed, too, that if I survived, I’d be the only one left in the whole world,” Srebnik (obviously enjoying the attention) remembers fantasizing.

Then there is the idiotically grinning Michael Podchlebnik, whose clear giddiness at being filmed for a movie prompts Lanzmann to ask why he is smiling. Fortunately for the sake of Shoah‘s credibility, Podchlebnik has found his motivation for the next segment in which he is featured and manages to work himself up into a pretty good cry. Other survivors follow, none of them particularly compelling. One claims to have seen a wall of rainbow-colored flame erupt on the occasion of the first mass incineration. Another says water gushed up from a pit to seize the bodies dumped into it.

PodchlebnikMichael Podchlebnik, movie star

The best parts of Shoah are Lanzmann’s interviews with common Poles who lived in the vicinity of railways, camps, and “gas van” operations. What is so refreshing about these people, who come across as lovable, Slavic rednecks, is their earthiness, their unstudied eccentricity, and the obvious fact that most neglect to take the “Holocaust” very seriously.

Poles

Polish “Holocaust” witnesses – possibly inebriated

“Above all, they were dishonest,” one Pole reports of his old Jewish neighbors. Laughing women recall that their men enjoyed chasing the beautiful, idle Jewesses, but another interviewee opines that the Jews were unattractive. Lanzmann, meanwhile, constantly prods them, trying to get anybody and everybody to admit that the Polish people do not really lament the extermination of the Jews and in fact benefited from it because they were then able to move into the houses of the deceased and so up the social ladder.

PoleJews smelled bad, says this Pole

Lanzmann’s anti-Christian agenda becomes overt in the portion of Shoah comprising disc two of the Criterion release. He arranges, for instance, to interrogate a gaggle of Chelmno Poles in front of a church in which Jews were once corralled, but chooses the day of a Catholic festival for his interview, so that reminiscences of Jewish internment and theft of valuables are juxtaposed and interrupted by a devout procession with icons.

HilbergRaul Hilberg doing his Raul Hilberg impression

Anti-gentile historian Raul Hilberg, author of The Destruction of the European Jews, is also interviewed and voices his view that the “Holocaust” is only the culmination of a festering anti-Semitism present in Europe and Christendom for a thousand years or more. It was “a logical progression” of Christianity toward “closure” of the Jewish question, Hilberg explains.

Hilberg, to his credit, acknowledges that no paper trail exists for a “Final Solution” as that term is generally interpreted by mainstream (i.e., corporate, Zionist-subsidized) historians and that “one cannot find a specific document, a specific plan, outline, or blueprint which states, now the Jews will be killed.” He goes on, “Everything is left to inference from general words. General wording [. . .] leaves something to the bureaucrat that he must infer.” Orders-by-inference would seem to be a novel, unorthodox, and unreliable protocol for an operation calling for military discipline, but Nazis, Hilberg gives the viewer to understand, work in mysterious ways.

Shoah coverEpic dullness in high-def

Lanzmann’s Shoah is the ultimate slog, with Pauline Kael rightly describing the documentary as one “long moan” in her assessment. Rewarding as time spent among the affable Polish villagers can be, much of the remainder (at least, based on this reviewer’s experience of the first two discs) is tedium defined. Typical of Lanzmann’s style are long panning shots over empty expanses, desolate fields and forests, ratty houses, lonely roads, snowdrifts, etc. One shot pointlessly follows a van on a road for about a minute, followed by a shot of the van boringly parking, after which the camera slowly zooms in on the stationary van – revealed to be the director’s high-tech detection Shoahmobile!

One wonders at times if the sinister intention of all this monotony is not to lull the unsuspecting viewer into a dulled, semi-conscious state of susceptibility to the Zionist propaganda. Only the contents of the next four (ugh) discs will tell.

[Read this reviewer’s further reflections on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah here.]

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