Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation produced this Academy Award winning documentary film about five Hungarian holocaust survivors and the ordeal they faced during the waning months of World War II. In March of 1944 Germany is losing the fight for Europe as Allied Troops advance into Axis controlled territories. Hitler orders the occupation of Hungary and begins a rapid, systematic round up of Jewish citizens from the cities and countryside, diverting critical resources from the war effort to bring about his “final solution” the eradication of the Jewish race from European soil. The experiences of Bill Basch, Alice Lok Cahana, Renee Firestone, Tom Lantos, and Irene Zisblatt are told in gut-wrenching detail. Lantos eluded recapture after fleeing a work gang that maintained a crucial railway bridge under constant bombardment by Allied pilots joined the underground resistance effort until wars end. The others were shipped by rail in cattle cars to concentration camps in Germany and Poland where they were stripped of their possessions, clothing, and dignity. The fate that awaited them was to become test subjects for gruesome medical experiments or forced labor before being killed by poison gas or gunshot. Disposal of the dead often involved serving as fuel for massive fires that burned thousands of corpses or buried in mass unmarked graves.
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Their tragedy is all the more startling due to the fact that the war was all but lost to the Nazi's and Hungarian Jews had passed through the bitter years of war virtually unharmed until the occupation and pogrom in March 1944. These individuals overcame the inhumane treatment of their captors to live to tell their stories. Finally liberated from the camps in June 1945 the survivors tried to make sense of their shattered lives. Several make return visits to the site of the camps and their former homes in the Ukraine (previously Hungary). Lantos has gone on to a career in the US Congress as a representative from California. The Last Days is a horrific, historical record of man's inhumanity toward man.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Fletcher