Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
In this provocative documentary the horror of the Nazi death camps persists, hanging in the air in a bright summer beer garden where strapping Aryan lads raise their jugs in good cheer. We’re in Mauthausen, a picturesque Austrian town forever condemned in the eyes of the world as the scene of an SS camp (a ‘Konzentrationslager’ or ‘KZ’). Mauthausen originally functioned as a men-only forced labour camp, mostly for political prisoners, homosexuals and other ‘undesirables’, and was eventually used for the extermination of thousands of Jews of both sexes. Now it functions as a major contributor to the local tourist economy. British filmmaker Rex Bloomstein draws eloquent testimonies from contemporary residents who remember the camp (one even fondly) and those who can’t or would rather not. He talks longest and most searchingly with the men who work in the camp as tour guides. We see how they struggle daily, imperilling their own sanity, to bear witness to the suffering of the victims and to ensure that we never forget the ease with which fellow humanity eliminated them.