Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (DVD)
More than any previous documentary about the Holocaust, Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State
reveals the inner workings of the Nazi implementation of Hitler's infamous "final solution." Drawing on the latest academic discoveries, this remarkable BBC series presents a wide-ranging, meticulously researched biography of the titular "killing factory" and its evolution into a highly efficient location for industrialized extermination of well over one million Jews, gypsies, and other so-called "mongrel races" between 1940 and 1945. From "Surprising Beginnings" to "Liberation & Revenge," the six-chapter program chronicles the gradual process that escalated into the Holocaust, focusing its expansive European timeline on the detailed movements of preeminent (and highly corruptible) Holocaust engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Höss, and "death doctor" Josef Mengele. Through painstakingly authentic reenactments of crucial meetings including the Wannsee Conference (where the "final solution" was secretly devised), we see and hear the Nazi thought processes, built on virulent hatred and bigotry, that "justified" mass murder on an unprecedented scale.
Subtle but exacting use of computer-animated effects allows three-dimensional exploration of newly discovered architectural plans and buildings long-ago destroyed, revealing the transformation of Auschwitz as World War II progressed. Along with rare archival footage, thorough documentation, and frank testimony from Holocaust survivors and Nazi perpetrators (not all of them penitent about their crimes), these programs make expert use of commanding narration by Oscar®-winning actress Linda Hunt, who brings depth and gravitas to a grim litany of sobering facts and figures. The result is an all-encompassing portrait of Auschwitz unlike anything seen before, masterfully written and produced by Laurence Rees with equal parts tenacity, intelligence, and integrity, informed by an overriding sense of moral outrage that is entirely appropriate to the history being examined. It's a remarkable achievement, as important as Shoah as a definitive exploration of one of the darkest chapters in human history. --Jeff Shannon