How the Non-Jewish Director of the First-Ever Holocaust Movie Resisted Communist Pressure to Write Jews Out of the Story

On Sunday, the 1947 Polish film The Last Stage was shown at a Tel Aviv theater. Its director, Wanda Jakubowska—a Gentile Polish Communist—was imprisoned in Auschwitz in 1943; after the war, she became one of her country’s foremost filmmakers. Using former prisoners and townspeople from the nearby hamlet of Oswiecim as her cast, she filmed the movie at the camp itself. Later Holocaust films would splice in its footage and even imitate some of its shots. Ofer Aderet writes (free registration required):

The film centers around a Jewish heroine, Marta Weiss, who is deported to the camp with her family. [Upon arrival], she translates the commander’s instructions for the other prisoners and is chosen to serve as an official interpreter. Later she exploits her position to help her fellow inmates smuggle supplies and information, and eventually escapes with a friend, Tadek, in order to tell the world about the plan to “liquidate” the camp. But the two are caught and sentenced to execution. . . . Marta Weiss is based on . . . Mala (Malka) Zimetbaum, a Polish Jew who moved to Belgium with her family as a child and was deported to Auschwitz in 1942.

Reexamination of the film all these years later clearly reveals its historical weaknesses; after all, it’s a Communist propaganda film. Praise for the Soviet Union, Stalin, and the Red Army is woven in. They are depicted as the prisoners’ only saviors—without any mention, of course, of Stalin’s cooperation with Hitler at the start of the war. . . . In the film, all resistance to the Nazis is led by Communist women.

Nor is there anything about how Jewish prisoners were harshly discriminated against by prisoners of other nationalities; this wouldn’t serve the message. . . . Also, in the film one hears Polish, Russian, German, and French, but no Yiddish. This is no coincidence. Produced under the auspices of the Soviet Union, the film deliberately avoids any mention of the uniqueness of the Holocaust and instead emphasizes the universality of the war’s victims. In this, the film betrays the truth. Most of the 1.1 million victims at Auschwitz were Jews.

But unlike other works produced under the Communist regime, the Jews aren’t completely absent from this one, thanks to Jakubowska’s stubborn insistence. Describing it years later, she said she was pressured to alter the plot and remove any mention of Jews.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Auschwitz, Film, Holocaust, Poland, Soviet Union

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation