New Documentary Offers Troubling Accounts of Hundreds of Nazis

September 7, 2020

Acclaimed British director Luke Holland spent years befriending hundreds of former S.S. members, winning their trust and ultimately recording interviews. The nearly 300 elderly Germans and Austrians – the last living generation to have participated in Hitler’s Third Reich – are not the famous names the world has come to know, but rather the everyday citizens who assisted in carrying out the plans of those that initiated the mass-scale genocide of the Holocaust. His new documentary, Final Account premiered on September 4, 2020, at the Venice International Film Festival.

Holland, who passed away last year, mixed witness statements with previously unseen archival material as well as current-day footage, to build a chilling account that drives home a very dark point: Many more Germans were aware of what was happening than has been previously acknowledged – and many of those involved remain unrepentant.

Others attempt to rationalize their actions, or suggest alternatives to mass killings, such as solely mass deportations would have been preferred. Some acknowledge the struggle they had with the consciences while others embrace the role they played.

Reportedly, one of the most disturbing scenes in the film is when an elderly former S.S. soldier is verbally assaulted by modern neo-Nazis because he had the audacity to discuss his guilt. He is accused of attempting to shame them for being German.

In a statement, the late Luke Holland said, “My hope for Final Account is that people will think about its historical importance, but also that people will think about their own place in today’s inordinately complex world. How do we become aware of when we’re participating in a crime, however subtly? How did some of these people I interviewed not know they were implicated in these terrible crimes until things had gone too far? I hope the film provides an opportunity to reflect on this. And the optimist in me says these lessons can still be applied.”