Watch a Gripping 10-Minute Animation About the Hunt for Nazi War Criminal Adolf Eichmann

In Feb­ru­ary 2018, the Con­fer­ence on Jew­ish Mate­r­i­al Claims Against Ger­many con­duct­ed inter­views with 1,350 Amer­i­can adults, aged 18 and up.

Their find­ings, pub­lished as the Holo­caust Knowl­edge and Aware­ness Study, reveal a sharp decline in Amer­i­cans’ aware­ness of the state-spon­sored exter­mi­na­tion of six mil­lion Jew­ish men, women, and chil­dren by Nazi Ger­many and its col­lab­o­ra­tors.

This knowl­edge gap was par­tic­u­lar­ly pro­nounced among the mil­len­ni­al respon­dents. Six­ty-six per­cent had not heard of Auschwitz — the largest of the Ger­man Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps and exter­mi­na­tion cen­ters, where over a mil­lion per­ished. Twen­ty-two per­cent of them had not heard of (or were unsure if they had heard of) the Holo­caust.

This is shock­ing to those of us who grew up read­ing The Diary of Anne Frank and attend­ing assem­blies where Holo­caust sur­vivors — often the old­er rel­a­tive of a class­mate — spoke of their expe­ri­ences, rolling up their sleeves to show us the ser­i­al num­bers that had been tat­tooed on their arms upon arrival at Auschwitz.

The study did make the heart­en­ing dis­cov­ery that near­ly all of the respon­dents — 93% — believed that the Holo­caust should be a top­ic of study in the schools, many cit­ing their belief that such an edu­ca­tion will pre­vent a calami­ty of that mag­ni­tude from hap­pen­ing again.

(In defense of mil­len­ni­als, it’s worth not­ing that in the decades since 1977, when more than half of the coun­try tuned in to watch the minis­eries Roots, the Civ­il War and the hor­rors of slav­ery had all but dis­ap­peared from Amer­i­can cur­ricu­lums, a direc­tion the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment is fight­ing to redress.)

The Holo­caust is such a huge sub­ject that there is a ques­tion of how to intro­duce it, ide­al­ly, in such a way that young peo­ple’s inter­est is sparked toward con­tin­u­ing their edu­ca­tion.

The Dri­ver is Red, Ran­dall Christo­pher’s ani­mat­ed short, above, could make an excel­lent, if some­what unusu­al, start­ing place.

The film’s text is drawn from Israeli Mossad Spe­cial Agent Zvi Aha­roni’s first per­son account of the suc­cess­ful man­hunt that tracked Adolf Eich­mann, a mem­ber of Hein­rich Himm­ler’s inner cir­cle and archi­tect of the Nazi’s “final solu­tion,” to Argenti­na.

This event tran­spired in 1960, fif­teen years after Sovi­et troops lib­er­at­ed Auschwitz.

Aha­roni, voiced by actor Mark Pin­ter, recalls receiv­ing the tip that Eich­mann was liv­ing in Argenti­na under an assumed name, and locat­ing him in a mod­est dwelling on the out­skirts of Buenos Aires.

Film­mak­er Christo­pher builds the ten­sion dur­ing the ensu­ing stake­out with effec­tive, noir-ish, pen­cil sketch­es that take shape before our eyes, map­ping sur­veil­lance points, a cou­ple of hap­py acci­dents, and one har­row­ing moment where Aha­roni feared his for­eign accent might give him away.

There’s more to the sto­ry than can be packed in a four­teen minute film, but those four­teen min­utes are as grip­ping as any tight­ly plot­ted spy movie.

Christo­pher is less inter­est­ed in direct­ing the next James Bond flick than putting Holo­caust edu­ca­tion back on the table for all Amer­i­cans.

2016 New York Times arti­cle about the hand­writ­ten let­ter Eich­mann sent Israeli Pres­i­dent Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, beg­ging for clemen­cy, paved the way for the film by moti­vat­ing Christo­pher to fill in some gaps in his edu­ca­tion with regard to the Holo­caust.

As the then-46-year-old told Leo­rah Gavi­dor of The San Diego Read­er in 2018:

I (felt) so dumb, so igno­rant, being an adult in Amer­i­ca and not know­ing the his­to­ry of it.

My friends, peo­ple I told this sto­ry to, they were fas­ci­nat­ed. They would start lis­ten­ing very care­ful­ly when I start­ed to talk about this Nazi from Ger­many that was found 15 years after the war, halfway around the world. They didn’t know any­thing about it. That’s how I knew I was on to some­thing.

Before the film was com­plet­ed, Christo­pher staged a live read­ing of the script at San Diego’s Ver­ba­tim Books, then passed the mic to Holo­caust sur­vivor Rose Schindler, who told the audi­ence about sur­viv­ing Auschwitz.

As Christo­pher recalled:

Peo­ple were trip­ping. There’s three lines about Tre­blin­ka in the film, and this Nazi war crim­i­nal, and then they see some­one there, with the tat­too on her arm, in front of them, who expe­ri­enced this first­hand.

Mrs. Schindler became a Holo­caust edu­ca­tor in 1972, when her son’s teacher invit­ed her to share her sto­ry with his mid­dle school class­mates.

She is now 91.

via The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Holo­caust in Film and Lit­er­a­ture: A Free Online Course from UCLA 

Holo­caust Sur­vivor Vik­tor Fran­kl Explains Why If We Have True Mean­ing in Our Lives, We Can Make It Through the Dark­est of Times

96-Year-Old Holo­caust Sur­vivor Fronts a Death Met­al Band

100-Year-Old Holo­caust Sur­vivor Helen Fagin Reads Her Let­ter About How Books Save Lives

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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  • Jonathan says:

    “…a direc­tion the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment is fight­ing to redress.)”
    This has got to be the biggest load of baloney this web­site has ever put out there. BLM is out for one, maybe two things: Per­son­al finan­cial gain for those who run it, and the abol­ish­ment of the police (The same police who put their lives on the line polic­ing the very worst neigh­bor­hoods in Amer­i­ca, and who also inves­ti­gate and solve many black on black crimes includ­ing mur­der) Just once I wish the edi­tor of this oth­er­wise excel­lent web­site would open his eyes to the truth, and not get swal­lowed up by what­ev­er guilt he is feel­ing that day.

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