“Final Account” – Documentary Explores the Mindset of Perpetrators of the Holocaust

The most common myths we have all heard surrounding Germans who were part of the Holocaust are phrases like “I didn’t know,” or “I was just following orders.” A Documentary called “Final Account” explores the minds of the perpetrators. It also gives some lessons for modern times – and a warning.

final account

Final Account

“Everyone knew, but nobody said anything”

In Nazi Germany, the Regime of Adolf Hitler allowed deception and denial to run rampant. The Nazi Youth could pretend they didn’t know anything about what the Nazis were doing to Jews and others because they were part of an elite group. It “felt good.” But in the end…in their “final account” was a terrible lie. Claire Barrett from Military Times wrote an article about the film:

Director Luke Holland, the creator of “Final Account,” interviewed over 300 former members of Hitler’s Third Reich over the course of 10 years. Holland, whose own grandparents were murdered by the regime, wanted to explore the justification for their actions – why they did what they did. Holland died last year from brain cancer, but the documentary is due to be released on May 21, 2021.

Screenshot from documentary trailer

The common refrain we heard was “after the war” or “we didn’t know.” Through these interviews we start to interrogate those lies. I think we start to see the fractures in this sort of monolith of myth…

“I was just reading through some of Luke’s notes and he found himself asking this question again and again. Where does this perpetration begin? The framework through which we’ve tried to determine this has largely been a judicial one. We framed it through law, whether one has committed a crime. But then there is the question of complicity. Is silence tacit support?

I think it would be inaccurate to say that everyone knew the entire scope of what was being carried out in front of them. However, it became clearer and clearer during the interview process how much people did know. There was a greater awareness, and not just of anti-Semitism, criminal acts, or people being deported. News spread as men came back from the front, from the killing fields, from the sites of mass murders. Those rumors spread everywhere.

Associate Producer Sam Pope

Claire was told about a German policeman who was directing traffic as the Nazis herded Jews into the rail cars…they knew something about what was happening, they simply didn’t say anything.

People tend to get a little anxious, saying, “You can’t blame all Germans.” I’m not blaming all Germans; I’m saying that the country committed the crime. And therefore, the citizens of the country are responsible to apprehend those if they do not agree with it.

We have to be accountable for our actions. It’s the will of the people that ultimately decides a nation’s fate, and if we don’t like it, we better prevent it, because otherwise it will go down in history…

I think you have to test all of those things to see whether or not the issue is in terms of historical knowledge. I think it’s best taught with context, which is why the USC Shoah Foundation is involved in this film — to provide context that allows someone to explore this safely. But I think it’s extremely instructive to be able to show that if this can happen in Germany, it can happen anywhere. So, let’s learn those lessons while we can.

Dr. Stephen Smith, executive director of the USC Shoah Foundation

“Never forget is not just a bumper sticker.”

“Final Account talks about deception, denial, lies, and a failure to face reality of the Germans. In this modern world there are people whose absolute culture of anti-Semitism has found a foothold in the terrorism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and other insidious groups of Nazi-style ideology who have built Jews and others who stand with them into a danger to be eradicated. Blame that is attached to Jews (Israelis), or patriots, or Trump supporters, or Asians, threatens the very fabric of society, just as it destroyed Germany in WWII.

Whenever such beliefs invade the minds of humans whose thoughts are turned toward hate, the danger of becoming like Germany in WWII rears its ugly head.


H/T Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children


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Faye Higbee

Faye Higbee is the columnist manager for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. All of her posts on Conservative Firing Line are also posted on Uncle Sam's.

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