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The last witnesses

 

 

Number of interviews: 15, around 7 minutes each

Carrier: Betacam and VHS

Transcriptions: available

 

Only the DVDs are available in the Kazerne Dossin reading room.

The whole collection has been preserved by the Cinematek.

Access: Registration, request

 

 

 

 

During the Second World War, millions of people lost their lives in German concentration camps. There were survivors, but they are slowly dying out. Soon there will be no more people who can testify at first hand about the horrors of the camps. Their memories – however horrific – must never disappear.

 

A book has been published and a documentary made

The five-part documentary by Luckas Vander Taelen records the story of fifteen Flemish Holocaust survivors and imprisoned resistance fighters.

Authors: Luckas Vander Taelen, Dirk Verhofstadt, Guy Verhofstadt

Publisher : VBK – Houtekiet (August 25, 2011)
Language : Dutch

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9089241981

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9089241986

De laatste getuigen is a five-part documentary made in 1991 by Luckas Vander Taelen for VTM. It is a timeless document that has lost nothing of its power even 20 years later. In the series we see how the filmmaker and fourteen Belgian survivors return to the concentration camps where they were held during the Second World War. Seven of them are Jews, the other seven were arrested and deported by the Nazis and their accomplices because of their political convictions and acts of resistance.

Luckas Vander Taelen spoke extensively with these last witnesses of the Nazi horror, first here in Belgium and then during a journey to the camps where they had been imprisoned for months or years during the war. They returned to Dachau, Ravensbrück, Natzweiler, Mauthausen, Buchenwald, Gross-Rosen, Bergen-Belsen, Auschwitz-Birkenau and other places.

 

They testify about their experiences, from the moment they were picked up, their deportation, arrival and life in the camps, and later their liberation and return to Belgium. The result is one of the most striking and penetrating documents about this terrible period in our country’s history.

During the recording, a fifteenth witness was added: Samuel Hejblum, a Jew, was deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on 5 August 1942. There he worked for a fortnight in a special commando who was in charge of the first gas chambers. His duties included carrying the bodies to the crematoria. Later, he also had to empty the goods wagons that brought the Jews from all over Europe to Auschwitz and sort out their meagre possessions. This is a unique testimony from one of the few survivors of a Sondercommando.