A Forgotten Holocaust Movie from 1943

In 1943, Columbia Pictures produced Hollywood’s first Holocaust film, None Shall Escape, which tells the story of Wilhelm Grimm’s transformation from likable schoolteacher to embittered World War I veteran to SS officer. After decades of obscurity, the movie has returned to circulation. Thomas Doherty describes the climactic scene, in which Grimm presides over the deportation of the Jews from a Polish village:

Shot in noirish night-for-night photography, the deportation sequence shows the Jews of the village, and a shipment from Warsaw, being herded into box cars for transport to what can only be a death camp, not a concentration camp; the wails of the terrified victims ring out on the soundtrack. Grimm orders the rabbi to quiet his people, but the man has no intention of facilitating the Nazi depredations. Richard Hale, the actor who plays the rabbi, would later accrue countless credits as a character actor in film and television, but he never again commanded a moment so powerfully as in this, his first screen role. Framed in close-up, with minimal cutaways, he delivers a searing indictment of anti-Semitism—and a rousing call to arms. . . .

The Jews, [inspired by his words], run from the box cars and attack their guards, but the cause is hopeless: in an extended and excruciating bloodbath, the rebels are mowed down by Nazi machine guns. After the massacre, the unbowed rabbi tells Grimm, “We will never die—it will be you, all of you!”

Grimm shoots him point-blank in the stomach, but the rabbi is a hard man to kill. As the camera scans the bodies strewn on the ground and in the boxcars, he stands up and recites kaddish over his people.

The movie ends with a courtroom scene, where an unrepentant Grimm is on trial for his actions:

Surprisingly, the film denies us the satisfaction of a Nuremberg ending: the hissible Nazi war criminal is not hanged, not even sentenced. “You are the jury,” the presiding judge says into the camera. It is left to us, the custodians of the postwar world, to render a verdict.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arts & Culture, Film, Hollywood, Holocaust


An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security