Documentary Detail

Image of Professor Rebecca Wittmann
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - 4:02pm
Carla DeMarco
Historical Studies Prof provides commentary in recently released film on complicit concentration camp guards

At the end of April, Professor Rebecca Wittmann, Chair of the Department of Historical Studies, appeared in a film that confronts the aftermath of the Holocaust.

“In the fall I gave an introduction and Q&A to another film called The People vs. Fritz Bauer at the TIFF Bell Lightbox,” says Wittmann.

“The director of the documentary Matthew Shoychet was in attendance, and he came and spoke to me afterwards. We then arranged for a taped interview for this new film.”

On April 29, The Accountant of Auschwitz premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs film festival to a sold-out audience. The film examines the 2015 trial of former SS sergeant Oskar Groening, who documented and evaluated the belongings of Auschwitz concentration-camp prisoners as they arrived at the camp, and explores his complicity and the involvement of other SS guards and the subsequent debates associated with their prosecution. Groening was convicted as an accessory to the murder of over 100,000 people in a German court. He died in March 2018 without ever having gone to prison (his case was being appealed).

The commentary Wittmann provides in the film is based on her scholarly expertise of the ways in which postwar Germany confronts its past and the failings of German Nazi trials.

Shoychet and his producer Ricki Gurwitz did extensive research on Groening and his trial, which included travelling with three Torontonian Holocaust survivors to Germany and attending the trial in which the survivors testified, says Wittmann.


Resources

  • The film will get a limited run at the Hot Docs Cinema in June.
  • A feature article about the film ran in the Toronto Star.
  • To learn more about Professor Rebecca Wittmann’s research, listen to VIEW to the U podcast from October 2017.