Sounds very much like a comic film, doesn’t it? I was drawn to the movie for this same reason but soon enough found out that it was far from a funny flick. It was based on true events, a genre of movies I also happen to enjoy.
Released in 2015 and aired by the BBC, The Eichmann show focused on the production crew who were given the permit to televise the 1961 four-month trial of Adolf Eichmann, a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Col0nel) and one of the major organisers of the Holocaust.
The production crew headed by an American producer (Milton Fruchtman) hoped that televising the trial would give the Holocaust a human face, touch the hearts of the world and by so doing, prevent such a terrible event from ever reoccurring. In order to do this he had to hire a good director, which was where Leo Hurwitz came in. Both men and TV crew encountered many challenges including death threats and a failed production altogether but in the end they were able to record and distribute the footage to other countries to televise on a daily basis in about 36 countries worldwide.
Several things stood out while I watched this movie:
Milton Fruchman. From start to finish, this TV producer was the most optimistic and cheerful man in the entire movie. Even when he was extremely upset. They weren’t
allowed cameras into the courtroom, he received death threats from Nazi sympathizers, witnessed an attempt on his life, pulled through when reporters stopped attending the trial and refused to quit even when producer Leo wanted to quit. He was strong when his team members were not and understood with them when they couldn’t perform for one reason or the other. Milton was the true definition of a team player and a good leader. Everyone needs a Milton on their team!
Leo Hurwitz. I liked the doggedness of this man. He was smart and patient with the amateur TV crew he was given. later in the movie it became obvious that he had perfectionist tendencies and was even getting a bit too obsessive with Adolf himself that he missed some important happenings in the court. I believe that Leo hoped the trial would break Adolf and wanted to capture that momet but when it seemed that wasn’t going to happen, he felt like a failure and considered quitting. However with the support of his family and crew and also the realization that the show was creating the intended awareness, he pushed through to the end. Leo Hurwitz was acted by Anthony LaPaglia in the movie.
Adolf Eichmann. Captured by Jewish agents in 1960 and put on trial in 1961, this Nazi operative was made to watch (in a bullet-proof glass box) as witnesses – many of which were Holocaust survivors – came in to give accounts of their experience. It disturbed Leo as well as myself that Adolf showed no remorse whatsoever during these proceedings. Leo tried his best to push him to the wall by playing a video of the camps – starving men and children and truckloads of dead people being buried – but that didn’t seem to move him. During his questioning he admitted being guilty of transporting Jews to their various camps but refused to admit guilt for their annihilation. Eventually, records revealed and he eventually admitted to saying that he was happy to have the death of over 5 million Jews on his conscience.. Who says that? I guess some people are just born that way and its such a pity, to be born without a conscience and sense of humanity.
The Survivors/Witnesses. It is recorded that as many as 112 witnesses came to testify against Adolf. Many of them narrated what they had seen and experienced. For the first time, the world saw the Holocaust for what it was and were shocked by it. The tapes that were played in the court room moved me to tears… to think that people went though this horror! I do understand that many cultures of the world, including my country are experiencing a genocide in one way or the other but this was one of the most systematic, deliberate and well thought out plans to eliminate a race from the face of the earth. I don’t know how these people survived the extremities they went through but I salute their courage and inner strength. Surely these events and people should never be forgotten and I respect all who in their own way have tried to honour those who were lost in this terrible, terrible series of events.
It was not shown in the movie but Adolf Eichmann was eventually found guilty of about 51 war crimes and sentenced to death by hanging in 1962. I doubt that his death changed anything apart from the fact that justice was served and it gave the world some closure.
The televised trial of Adolf became the first ever global television documentary which made history and opened a door of possibilities for the power of television to effect change.
The Holocaust and similar events in countries around the world: Dafur, Armenia, Rwanda, and currently in Syria and Nigeria (The North-East & Southern Kaduna) must be condemned and discouraged at all costs. However it is sad to say that we have learned so little from our past and the damage is always done before harm is stopped, leaving lives lost and people forever scarred in its wake. As humans there is a great need to understand the value of life and remember the obligation to protect it. No one is more superior than the other, no one will ever be. May history teach us to be better people for the sake of the coming generation.