Final Account (2020) Movie Script

Sharpen the long knives
Sharpen the long knives
Sharpen the long knives
On the paving stone
So that they go better
So that they go better
So that they go better
Into the Jewish belly
As boys we thought nothing
of singing these songs.
Isn't that terrible?
I once flew over Buchenwald
with my squadron.
We intentionally flew low,
so we could see into the camp.
And we asked ourselves,
"What is happening in Buchenwald?"
And we heard things
that you could scarcely believe.
I was on leave with my brother-in-law.
He told me that he had witnessed
Germans from various units
shooting Jews in huge pits
and burying them.
He showed us the photos.
I said, "Is this Germany?"
This is a provincial commuter town.
This place makes me feel
really aggressive. I don't know why.
How is your father?
He's well. He's better than I am.
"Nazi Party Census."
Here it says "Blood Order."
- Blood Order.
- Or is it crossed out?
- What is a Blood Order?
- I don't know.
"I was made an SS Stormtrooper
on January 30, 1936."
"On January 10, 1940, I was dispatched
to the SS officers' school in Dachau."
"I passed with fairly good results."
"Promoted to SS Sergeant Major
on March 1, 1940."
It sounds rather brutal.
Are you seeing this for the first time?
Yes, I didn't know any of this.
I didn't even know
he'd been posted to Dachau.
We were raised in this manner,
"Children may only speak when spoken to."
"They are not allowed to ask questions."
What is a Blood Order?
- Blood bath?
- Blood Order.
It was a political decoration
for participating
in the 1923 Munich Uprising.
- Did you take part in that?
- No.
You would have only been nine.
And when were you sworn in
at the Feldherrnhalle?
In 1935.
The bells rang all over Germany.
It's hard to imagine that
after Hitler's seizure of power,
the bells rang everywhere in Germany.
My mother voted for Hitler.
My father also voted for Hitler in 1932.
Because of unemployment and inflation.
My older brother
was already a convinced Nazi in 1932.
In 1932, he was 11 years old.
I remember how he showed me
his brass knuckles with spikes.
"Today, we're going to smash
the Communist HQ."
And he photographed Insterburg citizens
who frequented Jewish shops.
And then these pictures were exhibited
at the Insterburg Town Hall.
Pictures of people buying
from Jewish shops.
I attended the local primary school
in 1933, at the age of six.
The teacher was a local party operative.
He raised us according
to the Nazi doctrine.
In the morning, we had to stand up,
and say, "Heil Hitler."
He practically raised me to be a Nazi,
against my parents' wishes.
I trusted my teacher
more than I trusted them.
Our teacher asserted
a strong control over us.
This is my Hitler Youth membership card.
I joined the Jungvolk at the age of ten
and I received this.
I joined on 1st May, 1937.
Before I even turned ten years old.
I just couldn't wait.
When you're ten, 12 years old,
what do you want?
You want to be part of a group
and get out of the house.
We could do sports.
We were allowed to play tennis
on the marine sports field.
We were allowed to use the pool.
We were allowed
to play on the lawn in the park.
Before that,
everything had been forbidden.
My mother was active in the Frauenschaft.
That was the women's organization.
When we went for walks on Sunday,
when I was little,
my father always put on his uniform.
And then we went for a walk.
My mother didn't like this at all.
Women didn't have a uniform,
but he made sure that she wore
the Frauenschaft badge on her coat
so that everyone could see
that they supported Nazi ideology.
I would have liked
to have gotten involved,
but Father said no.
And in the summer of 1933,
they finally said yes.
And I got a brown shirt
and black trousers for my birthday.
And that was in Stendal,
when we visited my grandparents.
They bought the uniform
from a Jewish store.
We did things that we enjoyed.
But that faded.
And when we moved up
to the Hitler Youth at the age of 14...
participation was mandatory.
I was in a communications unit,
where we trained as radio operators
at the age of only 15 or 16.
My leader was drafted into the military,
and then suddenly,
I was a Hitler Youth leader.
They found me a bit girlish.
I wasn't the right kind of leader
for the Hitler Youth.
We did boxing in the afternoon.
We weren't allowed to stop
until there was blood flowing.
At the end of the week,
the leader spoke to me.
He said, "You don't have what it takes
to be a Hitler Youth leader."
"You're too soft."
From the ages of 10 to 14,
there was the "Jungvolk" organization.
At 14, you joined the Hitler Youth.
For the girls, there was the "Jungmaedel"
and then the BDM.
The Association of German Girls.
A blue skirt, a white blouse,
and a knot made of leather.
It was a triangular neckerchief,
that was held together with the knot.
There were these social evenings,
where we would meet.
Those were evenings where we spoke
about Nazism, about the Fhrer...
Sometimes we'd talk about parts
of Hitler's Mein Kampf.
We didn't support the Party.
But we liked the uniform.
We went along with it
because we enjoyed it.
Putting on the uniform
and going on marches
or we'd sing, and so on.
Oh, that was lovely!
They were hiking songs,
ones you still sing today.
It was lovely.
Raise the flag!
The ranks tightly closed
The SA marches with calm, steady step
Comrades shot by the Red Front
And reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks
We had the task of standing guard
in front of a Jewish department store.
And us little boys, I was just nine,
we had to line up
in front of this Jewish shop
and we had to link arms.
We weren't allowed to let anyone through.
My friend said, "Let's go in there."
"There's got to be something there."
"I think you can recognize the Jew by..."
"The Jew smells."
"You can smell the Jew."
Between Slawentzitz and Ujest,
there was a Jewish cemetery.
There were at least 100 graves there.
So, there must have been
a Jewish community there
at some point.
We were in the Jungvolk and Hitler Youth.
And that's when the Jew-baiting started.
We would often go to the Jewish cemetery.
We went there at midnight,
at the witching hour.
It was a test of courage.
The Jews weren't popular, were they?
This had consequences.
Why weren't the Jews popular?
Apparently because they...
They were into deal-making,
and they had hooked noses.
We learned to read
using the normal alphabet book.
But we also had
a Jew-themed alphabet book.
It was published by Streicher, who had
also published the Nuremberg Race Laws.
And this book had a caricature of a Jew
for each letter of the alphabet.
I remember one in particular.
It showed a butcher's shop that was...
really greasy and filthy.
It showed a disgusting Jew,
one with dirty long hair and a hat,
behind the counter.
And next to him, there was
a blonde German girl
with a white apron.
The Jew had his hand
where it shouldn't be.
The Jews were to blame for everything.
We were a village of 175 people.
We had no electricity.
The mobile Nazi Film Unit came
to show us films, like Suess the Jew.
They showed Nazi films
in the smallest villages.
You can't imagine today
what kind of pressure there was.
That was my grandmother.
- Is that the Jewish grandmother?
- Yes.
That is the Jewish generation. That's her.
And that's her mother.
My older brother was a convinced Nazi.
And much later, he realized
that our father was also a Jew,
in accordance with Jewish tradition.
His mother was Jewish.
But he didn't make that public.
He kept that a secret.
And when my brother realized
that our father was a Jew...
He wanted to be racially pure.
When he realized that according
to both the Jewish and Nazi rules...
that our father was actually Jewish,
a process of rethinking began.
There were no Jews in our village.
My parents had contact with a Jew
who came from Friedeberg-Ostbahnhof.
He bought the skins
that we sold him on slaughtering days.
I always went to Woldenberg with him
to get my hair cut.
His name was Piefke.
And, one day, he didn't show up.
I asked, "Where is Piefke?"
They told me that he had emigrated.
Originally, it was a perfectly normal
hospital for psychiatric patients.
And it remained one,
but the Fascists turned part of it
into an Extermination Center.
It was all kept very secret.
But word got around
that buses were arriving in Bernburg
with darkened windows
heading in the direction
of the Sanatorium,
as the Bernburgers called it.
Every few days, black smoke would rise,
and it smelled sweet.
From this, many people concluded
that people's bodies were burned there.
People arrived and were murdered.
The furnaces are still there today.
It was talked about a little,
in very hushed tones.
It was dangerous to talk about it.
It was only whispered about in private.
It was November 9th.
The SS was sworn in
on that date every year.
The SS from all over Germany congregated
in front of the Feldherrnhalle.
It was night,
and we marched there in rank.
And then came Hitler, Himmler, and so on.
To the left, above the Residenz,
next to the Feldherrnhalle,
there was the glow of a fire.
It didn't mean anything.
It was just a fire somewhere.
We returned to our barracks.
And the next day,
we found out what it was.
It was Kristallnacht.
I had no idea.
That fire was the synagogue.
The Party ordered the schools
to take the children there.
They said the children should see it.
What was the motive?
They did not belong to our ethnic group,
apparently. I don't know the reason.
They said the children should see it.
Can you remember your reaction?
I was too young then.
But look, it wasn't in our neighborhood.
And, honestly, we didn't really leave
our neighborhoods.
- Hello, Karl.
- Hi, Gisela.
"From 1829
until its destruction
on November 10, 1938,
this was the center
of Weener's Jewish community."
"A synagogue from 1829 to 1938."
"A school from 1853."
"Rabbi and Teacher's House from 1887."
I can't read the Jewish text.
So there was a Jewish community here?
Yes. In Weener.
Who burned all of this down?
People from the SA.
We were on Fasanenstrasse
and we saw
that the synagogue was on fire.
The fire brigade stood in front of it,
but they did nothing. Nothing at all.
We were astonished
that they didn't intervene.
They just let it burn down.
I only understood why
a long time later.
They were only there to make sure
that the neighboring houses
would not catch fire.
But that was only the beginning
of the hounding of the Jews.
I didn't really care
that the synagogue was burned down.
I wasn't sorry about that.
I didn't feel any pity for the Jews.
So for you, it wasn't a crime?
No, not for me...
Well, hold on! That's a crime.
One would almost have to say yes.
However, I didn't consider it a crime.
It was all the same to me.
But if you look at it...
from a legal perspective,
one would have to consider it a crime,
because it was the destruction
of other people's property.
So the one who destroys it
would be a criminal.
But I didn't feel that way.
We didn't have any civilian clothes.
We were always in uniform,
from morning till evening.
And when you are in uniform
the whole year round,
that leaves a mark.
You have no time
to consider yourself a civilian.
In the Nazi Political Academy,
it was important that graduates
enter every profession.
There should be people everywhere
who could play an elite role in Nazism.
Everyone hoped to be drafted
as early as possible,
to become a soldier and go to war.
Many of us volunteered for the Waffen-SS.
This was being part of elite. We wanted
to continue being part of the elite.
The Family Tree.
SS Lieutenant, Karl Heinrich
Lbbert Hollander. Believer.
With a swastika, see?
This shows that you are Aryan?
Of good stock. Yes.
You couldn't become
an officer in the SS otherwise?
That was a prerequisite.
What was your rank?
First Lieutenant in the end.
I went to the SS
because I heard
that they trained you hard.
I was an athlete.
I did athletics, wrestling, boxing,
football, hiking, skiing.
I liked sports. I liked it tough.
I signed up for the SS on March 15th.
The SS was the elite corps.
They had the best tanks.
And we got excited. Well, I did anyway.
My father wasn't too excited about it.
I did it without his knowledge.
I believed in it,
and I wanted to die a hero's death.
I had written my farewell letter
to my parents.
"When I fall, you should be proud.
You should not wear black."
Nonsense like that.
Today, you wonder how that could happen.
My parents took me to a career counselor.
The man said, "First, he must complete
his Labor and Military Service."
That's two and a half years.
Or you could send him to Oranienburg,
to the Death's Head Unit.
They'll take him at 16.
And then he won't have to do
any Labor Service.
I saw a man there once.
I said, "I know him."
"He once bought stamps
from me for charity."
And I wanted to go over.
He hadn't done anything!
My comrade held me back and said,
"You idiot! Haven't you noticed
what's going on?"
That was a Mr. Warschauer.
But why did they send him
to Sachsenhausen?
I can't tell you that.
Being a Jew was probably enough.
Yes. Locking the man up was a disgrace.
We did not agree with that,
as you can imagine.
But when you're caught up in it,
you keep your mouth shut.
At 16.
I'm sorry. But that's the truth.
And then I heard screams outside.
I put the table under the window
and then a stool on top of that,
so I could look through the window.
And then I saw it.
I saw how people were beaten.
With bullwhips.
And others were hanging,
with their hands tied behind their backs.
The stool was pulled from under their feet
and they screamed
until they were unconscious.
And if an officer had asked you to do it?
If an officer had asked me
to pull the stool away,
the stool would have gone flying.
No doubt about it.
"On January 10, 1940,
I was ordered to attend the SS Officers
Training School in Dachau."
"I passed the exam
with fairly good results."
"The school was next
to the concentration camp."
My question would be whether you knew
that Jews were interned in Dachau.
We didn't know that.
You didn't know that?
For us, they were political prisoners.
If someone says that they didn't know
about concentration camps,
that is just not true.
The concentration camp inmates
went to work in their prison uniforms.
There were two or three guards, depending
on how many prisoners there were.
Everybody saw this.
I was stationed at Dachau
on April 1, 1938.
There were also Jews there.
I know this, because our local
police commander was there.
He was also a Jew.
And he was taken there. I even saw him.
- In the camp.
- In Dachau?
Well, yes. I saw him on his way to work.
When Adolf Hitler came to power,
all of those who had opposed him
were arrested overnight.
They were put into concentration camps,
and killed.
The intellectual leadership
of the resistance was gone.
And anyone who still protested
was promptly killed.
Killed. So people were scared.
I can't explain it any other way.
These heroes you expect to find,
there aren't many of them.
I was 14 years old.
I was the nanny for an SS family
for six years.
I looked after the children
because their mother worked
in the concentration camp.
We took the children there sometimes,
when they wanted to see their mother.
- Yeah.
- She never came home.
She normally slept over there.
She worked nights in the canteen.
I also went to the cinema at the camp.
The prisoners filled my teeth.
They fixed my teeth.
So, your dentist was there?
Yes, prisoners were my dentists.
Prisoners were your dentists?
Yeah, they fixed my teeth.
They were very nice prisoners.
The Kapos, and so on. They were nice.
Only the poor Jews
were killed straight away.
When they arrived, they were
immediately taken to the gas chamber.
They burned them immediately.
They killed so many people.
In Mauthausen,
there were the "Death Stairs,"
to avoid a detour.
Because the camp
was at the top of the hill
and the quarry was at the bottom.
They built the "Death Stairs"
to speed up the journey.
The steps were of different heights
and when it rained,
some would slip and fall,
or they would drop their stone
and injure somebody else's foot.
Many lost their lives.
There were many accidents.
Did you see that too, back then?
And then there was another steep wall
and some were pushed down,
either by Kapos or by the SS.
They were pushed over the steep slope.
Twenty meters of free-fall onto rocks.
Nobody survived that.
These are tomatoes.
I don't have anything green.
I don't think that matters.
Smell this.
Is it local?
Homemade, yesterday.
That was taken for my card,
for the bunker site.
I was a wages clerk.
I did the payroll for the German workers.
I only submitted the hours
for the foreign workers,
because the concentration camp prisoners
didn't get paid.
There were groups of laborers in Kap Horn
and here at the Valentin Bunker,
where they built submarines.
Kap Horn was surrounded
by water on three sides.
On one side, there were pontoons,
boats that the concentration camp inmates
were herded onto
and then taken to the steel works.
Us Germans were not supposed to go there.
But I went there once.
And I saw how these people
stood on the boat,
packed in tightly, like matches.
To this day, I'm ashamed that humans
could do this to other humans.
The Kapo came from a sub-camp
of the Neuengamme concentration camp.
He had a group of 15 or 20 men,
and these 15 or 20 men
had to be brought back
to the concentration camp, dead or alive.
They dragged them along.
Just so he could hand over
the same number of men he had taken.
So, at the end of the shift,
the same number of people had to be
brought back, even if they were dead.
Yes, even if they could barely walk.
How do you know that?
I saw it happen.
Our hut was only 20 meters away
from the bunker.
But as a bookkeeper,
I had nothing to do with it.
They were unloaded from the trains
and then they had to walk
five or six kilometers to the camp.
When they walked past
in their wooden clogs,
it sounded like a threshing machine.
"Here they come again,"
we'd say to one another.
Most people benefited from it.
They could work here and earn money.
And those who earned money here
were okay with it.
You mean, they made a profit out of it?
You could find advantages in it, yes.
They benefited from it?
In some way, the concentration camp
had an effect on all of us.
Local shops benefited too, of course.
The butcher shops, the bakeries,
and all of the grocers.
Your grandfather was a delivery man?
Yes, he was a delivery driver.
With a cart and horses.
He collected goods
from the train station in Bergen
and he took them to the camp.
The prisoners,
were they hiding here somewhere?
Yes, they hid in the hayloft at night,
or in the pigsty.
Or on top of the pigsty.
I mean, they are big buildings.
Either we discovered them in the morning
or they came to us.
Well, they were hungry.
And then what happened to them?
Well, they were picked up.
Here in the barracks, they were a bit...
What do I know?
Or taken to the concentration camp.
They took them to the camp.
And who picked them up?
Guards, you know.
But how did the guards know
that people were hiding here?
Well, we would discover them
and then report it.
At least, that is how I remember it.
- Did you make a phone call or...?
- Yes, yes, yes.
Do you know what happened
to these prisoners?
No, nobody knows what happened.
My father was a railway man.
My father was also head
of the cargo department.
This is why our apartment
was at the train station.
It was interesting,
because when the trains came,
we could see clearly what was happening.
What were his duties?
Well, it was to register these trains.
Let's say there was
a freight train loaded with people
and it was headed for Auschwitz.
It had to be registered
on the paperwork at the freight yard,
where all the trains went.
They cut down all the trees
for about ten kilometers
and they put up the factories there
in no time.
Massive camps of prisoners
and Jews, and so on.
They were unloaded at the freight yard
and they were marched
to their respective camps.
Every day,
I saw guards escorting Jews from work
back to the camp.
Sometimes, they had to carry
one of their fellows
because they could not walk anymore.
They put them on some kind of stretcher.
I saw that quite often.
My father knew
where the people were going.
No one ever came back.
They must have gone somewhere.
Sometimes my father
would come home and say,
"They dispatched Jews again today."
To Auschwitz.
People would say, quietly,
"They are driven up to the chimney there."
I still have the smell
of the crematorium in my nose.
When you saw the smoke rising up,
it was like when you burn car tires.
Then we would say,
"They have put some more in."
They would put at least three people
on there at a time,
on a metal grille.
As the skin burned,
it produced a lot of smoke.
You could smell it two kilometers away.
Are you all from Ebensee?
Yes, we were all born in Ebensee.
- All of you?
- Yes, all of us.
What did you know about
the concentration camp during the war?
How much did you know?
We knew nothing! At least, I didn't.
I can't speak for the others.
I knew nothing.
Everything about the camps was covered up.
You understand?
It was all hushed up. Suppressed.
People would talk about it quietly,
but not out loud!
Well, it was awful.
My old neighbor, he moved to Poland.
He told me so much because he was
in the concentration camp, and survived.
He survived.
They were hungry.
So many of them starved to death.
The camp inmates worked in the tunnels?
Those who still could.
Often they had to carry them back
on stretchers,
when they couldn't take any more.
No food. They were finished.
Yes, it was so many.
What happened to those
who could no longer work?
- They were burned.
- Yes, exactly. Every time.
The ovens were fired up.
You could see the smoke from the ovens.
You knew what was going on.
Those were horrific times.
And they beat them to the end.
In the labor camps,
they beat them to the end.
Then it was over.
So you think that the people here
knew what was going on?
No one would admit it
out of fear of being taken there as well.
People would say, "Don't say anything
or you'll end up in the camp too."
They noticed.
Everyone knew but no one said anything!
The day before the Americans came,
there was a lot of smoke
and it smelt awful.
They burned them all.
The ones who were worn out.
They burned them all. I remember that.
I always sat by the window,
so I saw a lot.
The Jeep drove up there.
- The Americans.
- Yes.
They opened the gate.
Imagine how people rejoiced
when they came!
- How they screamed!
- How they screamed!
But for joy! They were cries of joy.
They were so glad.
The townspeople got scared,
thinking that they would break
into the houses or something.
But this didn't happen.
And suddenly, all the SS guards were gone.
There were none to be seen,
from one moment to the next.
They would ring your doorbell
late at night,
and your whole flat would be searched.
Was someone there?
- Your friend?
- Yes, my boyfriend.
He was with the SS,
and they would have caught him.
But he was not from Ebensee.
No, he was not from Ebensee.
I see.
Your husband, was he a Nazi?
Your husband was an SS camp guard?
If I hadn't hidden him for nine months,
they would have arrested him.
But they didn't get him.
For the German people, the Waffen-SS
were at the peak of the nation.
Not just physically, but spiritually too.
An elite.
Yes, it's still there.
Whenever I have surgery,
I tell them about it.
I've had quite a few operations.
It's somewhere there. Here, look.
Now you should be able to see it.
What was your blood group?
It's interesting that this
was only done with the Waffen-SS.
You'd think that they would have
done this to all the soldiers.
To help everyone.
But there was an awareness of an elite,
and that was the Waffen-SS.
They came and said, "Show us your arm."
It was supposed to be your blood group,
in case you were wounded.
But many also said that they did it
to mark us forever.
The Waffen-SS had nothing to do with...
the terrible
and brutal treatment
of Jews and dissidents,
or the concentration camps.
The SS had nothing to do with it
Nothing in the slightest.
We were always front-line soldiers.
We were never involved in actions
behind the front.
Always at the front,
eye to eye with the enemy.
Nothing else.
I have no regrets and I will never
regret being with that unit.
Truly not.
A camaraderie like that...
You could rely on every man,
one hundred percent.
There was nothing that could go wrong.
That was the beauty of it.
That was the beauty of it.
There were SS units
who fought on the front line,
and they were merciless.
They shot whole villages.
Nothing was left standing.
People lay around like dead flies.
That too, was the SS units.
The Russians had already been driven out,
but with the civilians...
they did what they liked with them.
There were more dead than alive.
The living received us,
they begged, "Please, please..."
The Russians were generally
taken prisoner, with some exceptions.
I don't know about percentages,
but I saw exceptions
where the ordinary soldiers,
not the elite troops,
they drove away with their tanks...
and were shot.
They were buried in a mass grave.
They had to dig their own graves
when we put them in there.
I wasn't there.
When they were forced to dig it,
they knew they would be shot.
Did they talk to each other?
Not at all. There was a deathly silence.
We were in the Pripyat swamps.
A doctor and three medical orderlies.
And we were attached
to a Hungarian SS unit.
And they allegedly
found ammunition in a village.
We watched as they began
to set the houses on fire.
The people flooded out of their homes.
There was thick smoke everywhere.
It was like a film.
It was a dark night,
and these troops
were on their rather small horses.
They were riding back and forth,
shooting like savages.
It was like a cowboy film.
In the middle, there was a house
that was larger than the rest.
It may have belonged to the mayor.
And when the people ran into this house,
that house was also set on fire.
When the people inside
could no longer stand the heat and smoke,
they ran out of the house.
Machine guns had been set up outside,
and as the people ran outside,
they were just cut down.
The whole village was wiped out.
Women and children and men
who were just...
They would have been burned alive
if they had stayed in there,
and if they came out, they were shot.
What was the role
of the medical personnel?
We had no role there.
We never got the chance.
If a grenade had been thrown
and it had injured a few Hungarian
SS officers, then perhaps...
- If the SS men had been hurt...
- Yes.
Why did your officer not write a report?
I don't know, I can't say.
Perhaps, they didn't want a report.
What do you mean?
If it isn't in the archives,
it does not exist.
And then we withdrew further
with the tank
and we drove through a village
which was engulfed in flames.
And I didn't know that this...
I didn't know about
the "scorched earth" order.
Hitler instigated
a "scorched earth" policy.
It was the Fhrer's order
that no house fall
into the hands of the Russians.
He hoped the Russian advance
could be slowed down that way.
Yes, it was cruel,
but I did not care who was burned.
You said that you are ashamed
to be German? Is that correct?
No, I didn't say that.
I am ashamed today
that I joined this organization,
that I was proud to serve
in the Leibstandarte,
and that I was proud to bear this tattoo.
And that our leader, the hero,
hid in his bunker like a coward,
and shot himself to escape responsibility.
Adolf and his clique brought us disaster.
They caused us to lose our homeland.
And I lost my honor.
- And what?
- My honor!
But you were full of honor
and pride back then.
- What was I?
- If you'd kept your honor...
You are ashamed now that you had
the honor of standing for your fatherland?
- I don't understand.
- No, he's ashamed that...
I'm ashamed of the crimes
that were committed.
To stand up for the fatherland
is something completely different.
Everybody goes soft on camera.
Think about it.
The majority cheered
when they bombed London and Coventry.
Even knowing that women
and children were killed.
These are the consequences
of letting ourselves be seduced.
- No.
- Of course that's the result.
The concentration camps in Germany,
the destruction of Warsaw...
Wherever you go today,
you have to feel ashamed!
Anybody in this room
with a weakness of character
will now think, "Shit, I'm German.
What am I going to do now?"
That's what you're doing right now.
You are judging people, even though
you've just said that it's not our fault.
Somebody with a weakness
of character will think,
"Oh no, I am German.
I must be ashamed my whole life."
Why don't you show your face?
Why are you such a coward?
Look at the camera,
and say what you think.
You won't do that.
Then I'll get a criminal conviction,
and be persecuted by the state.
I say you are one of them!
Why are you hiding?
Because I'll be made out to be a criminal.
- Why? You won't be...
- Of course I will.
That's rubbish.
In your eyes, I'm a criminal,
just like your old comrades.
Then I would have to be afraid
that Nazis will set my house on fire.
What nonsense.
- Shouldn't I?
- I don't believe it, really.
When I speak so openly.
You should be afraid that some Albanian
stabs you on the public transport.
You should be afraid of that,
not of your own kind.
I'm getting agitated but, really,
one should stay calm.
Yeah, but you're not doing it, either.
That's enough.
I belonged to a murderous organization.
What else was it?
What else was it?
Innocent women...
One can think that
one's actions are wrong,
that they're very wrong.
But innocent women?
Or because they were Jewish or Gypsies?
Or because they were weak, physically,
or because they were sickly?
They were killed with an injection.
I remember a man called Franz Lemke.
We used to tease him as a kid.
One day, he was gone.
It turned out that they injected him
in Landsberg. Gone.
We were told that those who were
"unworthy of life"
had to be destroyed.
"Unworthy of life."
We carried it out to perfection.
We planned it at the Wannsee Conference,
here in this very house,
around a table just like this one.
In comfort, over some coffee.
They decided how the Jews,
women and children, were to be killed.
By this horrid method.
I cannot be proud of that.
I am ashamed of that.
It cannot be taken for granted
that a Jew would want to talk
to an SS man like me,
a man who was convinced
that what Adolf did was right.
Think about what that means.
I met 23 old German Jews.
Germans. Their fathers were in the war.
An old Jewish lady
over 80 years old told me,
"My father was in the First World War.
He received medals."
"He did not want to believe
that the Nazis would kill him."
"He refused to flee Germany."
You can imagine what happened.
This was too much for me.
I believe that.
But I believe it is important
to talk to young people like you.
I ask only this of you:
Do not allow yourself to be blinded.
Are you still proud today
that you were a member
of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler?
Of course.
Not just anybody could join it.
You mean it was...?
An elite.
You could say that.
Are you willing to accept
that the Leibstandarte was involved
in the murder of the Jews and others?
How can you say that this is an elite
in a moral sense?
They weren't involved in those murders.
But the SS?
Maybe. I don't know.
I never witnessed it.
Will you acknowledge
that the SS was a criminal organization?
- No.
- You won't accept that?
I won't accept that.
I would sully myself
if I were to admit to that.
And I don't want that.
The entire SS was recognized
as a criminal organization
at the Nuremberg trials.
But not by a German court.
So, I will not accept that.
So, you are saying
that the reports that came out later
about the murder of the Jews
in the extermination camps...
- It's said to be six million.
- That's a joke.
One million, maybe a little more,
in Auschwitz.
I don't believe it.
I will not believe it. It can't be.
Today they say...
Excuse me, but it's the Jew
who puts it that way.
The scale of it that is claimed today,
I deny that too.
I deny it. It didn't happen.
I can't imagine that, back home,
so many horrible things happened.
I don't know.
After the war, the majority of those
under Nazism regularly said
firstly, "I didn't know about it,"
secondly, "I didn't take part in it,"
and, thirdly, "If I had known,
I would have acted differently."
Everybody tried to distance themselves
from the massacres committed under Nazism,
especially those committed
during the final years.
And that's why so many said,
"I wasn't a Nazi."
An SS officer was lying next to me.
And an American officer
came to his bed and he asked him,
"Are you a Nazi?"
And he said, "Yes, I am."
The American officer
shook this SS officer's hand and said,
"You're the first German
to admit that he was a Nazi."
"It's a pleasure to meet you."
Later, I asked myself
what I would have said...
to this American officer,
if he had asked me, "Are you Nazi?"
Probably the same as everybody else.
"I was forced to," "I had to join
the Hitler Youth," and so on.
I wouldn't have said I was a Nazi.
We were, at the very least,
complicit in other people's crimes.
We can't be accused
of being active perpetrators.
We didn't do that.
We didn't beat or imprison anyone
or anything like that.
But we went along with it.
How can you claim
that you didn't imprison anyone
when you were a camp guard,
a member of the SS Death's Head.
A valid question.
A very valid question.
That's when complicity
begins to turn into guilt.
That's why I got out.
At what point does complicity
make you a perpetrator?
Complicity begins by going there
in the first place
and not turned around straight away.
We didn't dare.
Nobody walked away.
Let's say there was an order
to exterminate the Jews.
If I was a policeman or a soldier...
I would be forced
to help round up the Jews
and take them to a concentration camp.
So what does that make me?
If I go voluntarily,
I am definitely a perpetrator.
But if I am ordered to do it?
Am I already a perpetrator
if I say, "Jews, move along?"
I don't know.
I can't answer that question.
What else could I have done?
If I had refused, I could have been
put up against the wall and shot.
Did you yourself
ever hear of this happening?
No, never.
There is no record of it
in the literature, either.
I never heard of it.
If you had received such an order,
what would you have done?
Yes, that is a good question.
If 99 men had said "yes" before me,
I might have agreed to it as well.
The main responsibility for
the mass murder of Jews in World War II...
In the Second World War,
the blame remains with the Germans.
It is the stigma they will bear
for the rest of their lives.
But I don't feel part
of the collective guilt of the Germans.
So who is to blame for these atrocities?
God will be the judge of that.
- Put the good Lord aside.
- No.
I would like to hear your opinion.
Yes, but...
The good Lord doesn't sit opposite me.
- No, but my opinion...
- I can't ask him the question.
That means I'd like you to...
But I feel... I'm ashamed as a German.
Because something so cruel
happened in the German name.
With such meticulousness.
With such bookkeeping accuracy.
When it comes to judging,
I would differentiate
between those who did it and...
Actually, they were all perpetrators.
They were all perpetrators.
The concentration camp guard...
would you consider him a perpetrator?
Well, yes. I was one of them.
I feel like a perpetrator.
I've always said that we didn't know,
but in the end, we are perpetrators too.
We let it happen.
We should have got to the bottom of it.
So, in the end, we are perpetrators too.
Do I consider myself a perpetrator?
That's such a broad question.
I wouldn't have been a perpetrator...
if I had had the courage
to say "no" at any point.
So, you could say that by not doing that,
I am a perpetrator.
That's an easy answer, of course.
But I can't be convicted as a perpetrator,
because, really, I was
an ideological perpetrator and not a...
But let's finish now, shall we?
So, you are not willing to blame Hitler?
So, to you, Hitler was not responsible?
I will not blame him.
You will not blame him?
Do you still honor him?
I certainly do. The idea was correct.
And the murder of the Jews,
was that also correct?
That's what Hitler...
- No, I don't share that opinion.
- Sorry?
I don't share the opinion
that they should have been murdered.
They should have been driven out
to another country,
where they could rule themselves.
That would have saved
a great deal of grief.