Top 10 Holocaust Films

This list is dedicated to the 6 million Jews and 5 million more who lost their lives in the hands of the Nazis. These films help keep the memories alive and educate the younger population about many historical wrongs. We can still right the wrongs and help change the world and its quality of life.


1. The Pianist (2002):

This film is an adaptation of the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman and is critically acclaimed. At the academy awards, it won awards for Best Director (Roman Polansky), Best Picture and Best Actor (Adrien Brody). The whole movie is about a pianist (Szpilman) who tries to escape death during the Holocaust. He relied mostly on non-Jewish citizens to help him survive deportation and death.


2. Schindler’s List (1993)

This is a biographical film about Oskar Schindlar, a business man who saved the lives of thousands of Polish Jewish people during the Holocaust by employing them in his factory.

Schindler was a war profiteer and Nazi who came into Krakow and bought an army kilt factory after bribing SS and Wehrmacht officials. He employed thousands of Jews in the factory; a decision which ultimately saved their lives. Schindler stuck by this decision, especially in trying times. He is ultimately seen as siding with the Jewish workers making sure they are not sent to Auschwitz. The film won a total of 7 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes and 7 BAFTAs.


3. Defiance (2008):

Daniel Craig stars in this film about 4 Belarussian brothers, who along with 1000s others successfully hide from the Nazis. The movie chronicles the first half of the evasion from Nazis and their struggle to stay alive despite famine, hunger and disease. It was nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards.


4. The Boy in Striped Pajamas (2008):

This is a film based on the 2006 novel of the same name by John Boyne. It explores the atrocities of the Holocaust in the lives of 2 boys: a Jewish boy (Shmuel) and a German boy (Bruno) whose father is a German Nazi commandant. The film revolves around the bond two boys share despite religious differences. The bond both children share will make viewers heart rip with torment. The film was nominated for the British Independent Film Award and at the Chicago and British Film Festivals, despite unclear criticisms.


5. Anne Frank: The Whole Story (2001):

This film is based on the real life diary of Anne Frank, a girl who was tragically murdered in the Final Solution/Holocaust. The film began in 1939 at the beginning of WWII and chronicled the life of Anne Frank until her dying days. The film continued to examine post-war trauma and stories told by Otto Frank, Miep Gies and other Opetka employees. Ben Kingsley (Otto Frank) and Brenda Blethyn (Anne Frank) play outstanding roles in the film. New York Times called this film “undeniably powerful”. It won an Emmy Award for the Best Miniseries.


6. Sophie’s Choice (1982):

Meryl Streep really did deserve an Oscar for her role in this Nazi resistance film. The film is based on the book of the same name written by William Styron. The main character begins to reveal her traumatic past with the Holocaust. The most heart wrenching scene Sophie describes is when she is forced to choose between two children; a choice which ultimately is a life and death one. The film was ranked # 1 by Roger Ebert in the Best Films of 1982.


7. The Grey Zone (2001):

Many individuals look at events through a black and white viewpoint. They fail to examine the grey area between the two colours. Primo Levy in his book, The Drowned and the Saved examined a soccer game between prisoners and SS commanders. The lines between black and white were being blurred. You could never really tell who was the bad or good guy? The film expands on this notion and looks at Jewish Sonderkommando who were forced to assist Nazis in the extermination process.


8. Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987):

The film is based on the events that transpired in Louis Malle’s (writer, director and producer) life. The film examines a personal account of the deportation of 3 Jewish Boys and their teacher to a death camp in Auschwitz where they were all gassed. The headmaster, who helped hide them, was arrested as a result. The film was well received and had positive ratings. It won the Golden Lion Award at the 1987 Venice Film Festival. At the Cesar awards it won in 7 categories in 1988.


9. Murderers are Among Us “Die Mörder sind unter uns” (1945):

Created by East Germans, this film looks at the aftermath of the Holocaust. It centers around 3 characters: A former Nazi (Bruckner), a German soldier (Borchert) and a concentration camp survivor (Wallner). After coming back from war, Borchert occupies an apartment once occupied by Wallner. When Wallner returns, both she and Borchert are forced to live together, despite differences. The storyline evolves as Borchert tries to kill Bruckner for his role in the annihilation of Jews. A moral debate between him and Wallner ensues where Borchert makes a life and death choice. The whole film is meaningful and deserves to be on the top 10 list because it was shot in the Berlin ruins and was filmed right after the war ended.


10. Paragraph 175:

In the Third Reich sodomy and homosexuality were prohibited under Paragraph 175. Individuals were often jailed and killed if they were found engaging in what Nazis believed was criminal. Of the 100,000 homosexuals arrested, 4000 survived. This movie examines the lives of homosexual men/women who were persecuted by the Third Reich. It won the Teddy Award for the best documentary film.

There are no best movies that describe the Holocaust. Each movie gives a different view and sheds light in a different way. This is just one list I compiled so far.


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