August 9, 2013

Indonesia

When I was in Berlin, the reaction to The Act of Killing was very, very positive but there was one historian who I was going to debate with who said that this is like making a musical comedy using SS officers to dramatise what they had done. My answer was very straightforward: if this was still the Third Reich and the Holocaust was something that, as in that wonderful, horrible quote by Himmler [‘‘This is a page of glory in our history that has never been written’’], was officially denied but the SS officers and commandants from the different camps were getting old and were allowed to boast about what they had done as a way of maintaining their prestige and their power, and Germany had rebuilt good business relations with the countries it had failed to conquer, and then somebody comes in and finds some ageing SS officers who are still fairly powerful and are seen as heroes, and with them dramatises what they’ve done as a way of exposing what happened, to some extent, but also to expose the nature of a regime built on that — that’s what I tried to do.

 Joshua Oppenheimer describes The Act of Killing (2012) in the Oppenheimer/Hoberman Shoah podcast.