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Post A Slovakian Film, "The Auschwitz Escape"
Created by John Eipper on 05/15/21 4:02 AM

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A Slovakian Film, "The Auschwitz Escape" (Patrick Mears, -Germany, 05/15/21 4:02 am)

The Irish Times Online published a highly complimentary review of the 2021 film titled in some countries as "The Auschwitz Report" or "The Auschwitz Escape" in others. Here is what the reviewer had to say about it:

"[The film contains] useful information for those of us who don't know as much as we should about the paltry distribution of information about the genocide to Allied intelligence. The film, which is economically scripted by Jozef Pasteka, Tomas Bombik and the director--the temptation to go way past the 93 minutes here must have been hard to resist--tells the story of a genuine escape by Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba in 1944. They ultimately made their way to the Red Cross and helped compose a document known as the Vrba-Wetzler Report. The information therein was too horrific for many to believe and, despite the men's urging, no raids were launched on the camps, but their stories may have halted the transportation of 100,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz."

This film was selected as the entry by Slovakia for the 93rd Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film but was not nominated. It has yet to be released in the United States; the website for Amazon Prime Video states that it has not yet been scheduled for release in the US. It appears that no release date has been set for the film in Germany to date.

The Wirba-Wetzler Report mentioned above has its own Wikipedia entry for those interested. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrba-Wetzler_report . The response of the United States to the request to bomb the extermination camp was contained in a letter authored by the then Assistant Secretary of War, John J. McCloy, dated November 18, 1944 and addressed to the Executive Director of the War Refugee Board, John W. Pehle, in Washington DC. Here is a link to the text of McCloy's letter. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/mccloy-informs-pehle-that-war-department-won-rsquo-t-bomb-auschwitz-november-1944 . No such bombing occurred, which could have resulted in the escape of Jewish inmates through destroyed fences, etc., into the surrounding woods and countryside on account of the resulting chaos.

A relative via marriage, Solomon Schott (1888-1951), was born in the town of Zabludów (now situated in Poland near its border with Belarus) and emigrated to the United States (New York City) in 1914. He had been married in Zabludów and had sired a daughter there named Esther. In his Petition for Naturalization dated July 27, 1927, he declared that Esther had been born in Poland in 1913 and that she was in 1927 residing there. I could find no record of her emigrating to the United States or otherwise escaping the carnage of World War II, and I suspect that she died either as a result of the advance of the Wehrmacht beginning in June 22, 1941 in "Operation Barbarossa" or in an extermination camp such as Auschwitz.

Finally, Connie and I have registered for a tour in late September/early October hosted by one of the German "national papers," Die Zeit. This bus tour is titled "Through the Former Galicia." Stops on the way include Cracow, Lemberg/Lviv, Przemysl, Brody and Auschwitz. Accompanying the tour will be an academic specializing in the history of this former Austrian-Hungarian Province where my ethnic Polish grandfather and grandmother were born in the 1880s.

JE comments:  In recommending against the bombing of Auschwitz, Assistant Secretary McCloy coldly enumerates the logistical obstacles, but does not address the human cost.  Such an operation would certainly have been devastating to the camp population--or would the "chaos" have yielded a net humanitarian benefit?  I have never seen a discussion of this moral quandary.

Pat, when you learn of the film's availability through the streaming channels, let us know.  And please send reports during your September trip!  Aldona tells me that Lviv/Lemberg (we call it "Lwow" at the Polish-centric WAIS HQ) is a beautiful city, which I've never had the chance to visit.

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