By Olga Gershenson

Even humans conversant in cinema think there is no Soviet Holocaust movie. The Phantom Holocaust tells a special tale. The Soviets have been truly one of the first to painting those occasions on displays. In 1938, a number of motion pictures uncovered Nazi anti-Semitism, and a 1945 motion picture depicted the mass execution of Jews in Babi Yar. different major photos within the Sixties. however the extra at once filmmakers engaged with the Holocaust, the much more likely their paintings used to be to be banned through kingdom censors. a few movies have been by no means made whereas others got here out in such restricted liberate that the Holocaust remained a phantom on Soviet screens.

Focusing on paintings by way of either celebrated and unknown Soviet administrators and screenwriters, Olga Gershenson has written the 1st ebook approximately all Soviet narrative motion pictures facing the Holocaust from 1938 to 1991. as well as learning the finished motion pictures, Gershenson analyzes the tasks that have been banned at a variety of levels of production.

The ebook attracts on archival learn and in-depth interviews to inform the occasionally tragic and infrequently effective tales of filmmakers who came upon actual how you can characterize the Holocaust within the face of reliable silencing. through uncovering little recognized works, Gershenson makes an important contribution to the overseas Holocaust filmography.

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Immediately after Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, when the Soviets did not rush to publicize the news about pogroms and executions of Jews in 28 T h e P h a n t o m H o lo c au s t the occupied territory, at least some Jews remembered the lessons they had learned from the Mamlocks and Oppenheims: Nazis are not going have any mercy on them. 51 On the basis of these films, they knew not to trust Soviet propaganda, not to trust their neighbors who remembered Germans in World War I as “civilized people,” but rather they knew to escape.

Consequently, in all these films, the real heroes are not Jews but communists, and the real confl ict is not between Jews and Nazis, but rather between communists and Nazis. The more progressive Jewish characters join communists at factories and in the underground (like Rolf in Mamlock) or in prisons and camps (like Edgar in The Oppenheim Family or the pharmacist in Peat Bog Soldiers). There, characters not only convert to communism but are also enlightened and spiritually nurtured. Political underground, camps, and jails in these films function as a kind of ideological spa—a political retreat for the lost ( Jewish) souls.

As a new Soviet man, Avrom-Ber wants to volunteer for the front, along with other villagers. On the other hand, when he learns that his son Benzion was killed in the war, he mourns him in a traditional Jewish ritual—sitting shiva, and tearing his clothes. Benzion died a Soviet death on the battlefield, but his father’s grieving renders it Jewish. Bergelson consistently works to create a link between the Jewish past and the Soviet present. For instance, he gives a proud Hebrew name, Benzion Levit, to a Red Army commander.

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