Naked Among Wolves
Drama / History / War
Naked Among Wolves
Drama / History / War
Taking place at the Concentration camp Buchenwald at the end of March 1945, prisoner Hans Pippig discovers in a carrying case of an incoming prisoner a Jewish child. If reported the three-year-old is sure to die. On the other hand, a violation of the rules of the camp would threaten the long prepared uprising of the concentration camp prisoners against the SS.
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June 29, 2018 at 05:57 PM
Not quite a true story
The film is based on a novelization of the true story of a boy who was brought to Buchenwald with his father (not a stranger as depicted in the film) near the end of the war, while the mother and sister were killed in Auschwitz. The novel was written by a man who himself was a prisoner at Buchenwald for eight years, which lends credibility to the scene he paints. Nevertheless, some aspects of the situation in the camp and some dramatic events in the story were implausible. For me this undercut the grim realism and emotional impact of the film. It turns out that the actual story is both more tragic and morally ambiguous (search "buchenwald boy guardian" to learn more), whereas the film rather simplistically aims to depict "the best and worst of humanity."
This is a superbly done film but don't watch it if you're already in a downer. Or you don't have access to a stiff drink. It is grim and graphic. The violence and horror are simply stated but not exploited. It also gets beyond the Holocaust, portraying the seldom documented horrors the Nazis inflicted on non Jewish political prisoners. Nobody knows what life in the camps was like unless they had lived through it. But this may come closer than most such pictures. Dark and unrelentingly morbid, it is still a worthwhile watch but not an easy one. You will finish watching by pondering how an educated, civilized nation like Germany let this happen and by asking yourself how you might have reacted to the many moral dilemmas posed in the story. Not a film to enjoy but certainly one to watch!
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One of the best docudramas about the Holocaust I have seen
I have seen many films about the Holocaust since the first documentary newsreel I viewed in a local movie theater at age 10. It showed Auschwitz and other concentration camps liberated by the Allies at the end of WWII. I could not, then, understand the political history of what I saw but I certainly understood the piles and piles of dead bodies who would not experience another sunset, the piles of shoes which would not walk another step, the piles of spectacles the eyes behind which would not see another blue sky, or a loved one, or a mother, a father, a husband, a wife or even see their own children. The children were prepped by the Nazis for slaughter above all others because those Jewish children after all would grow up to be adults whom they reasoned – Germans were so good at reason — would continue to infect all of Europe. I knew enough to know that beast of human history dedicated to exterminating the entire Jewish population of Europe could have exterminated my family if my grandparents did not have the foresight to leave their dastardly Russian pogrom-overrun home 1/2 century before.
What I did not see then in newsreels was what it was like, what it actually was like, to experience a slaughter so barbaric, so cruel and so sickening perpetrated by so called civilized human beings on an unfathomable number of 6 – 10 million innocents reflected in the piles of bodies I did actually see in newsreels which made this 10 year old child sick.
"Naked Among Wolves" was one of the most authentic docudramas of that accursed time I have seen. It was about life in the men's cell block at Buchenwald. It was about men worked to death, tortured for the slightest perceived indiscretion, shot simply waiting to die in the filth of their excrement or hoping to live as Allied liberation drew near. They come upon a 4 year old Jewish boy hidden in a suitcase by his father brought into their midst to save under the gravest most life-threatening conditions. They try to save him. You must watch the film to see if they did.
I am of the opinion that one should not shield oneself from this and that one must remember history if history is to have any meaning for us at all.
When I was a young activist against war I used to say the Holocaust had a purpose, that it was for something higher and that this was perpetrated on so many for a lofty reason. As I aged and my political thought took shape I asked where was God that so many innocent human beings were made to suffer for years in dumb anguish. Now I say god was nowhere as 6-10 million Jews seemingly died for nothing, that the Holocaust had no meaning and no purpose. It was about hatred of "the other." "Naked Among Wolves" is a film I believe ALL should, especially in our time, see but suspect few will. I cry useless tears hoping against hope that human beings will change and that one group will not wipe out "the other" so that, in time, we will not all perish from the earth.