I recently watched “The Last Days.” The documentary tells the stories of five Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust during the last years of World War II. The film focuses on the horrors of life in the Nazi concentration camps but also stresses the survivor’s optimism and desire to survive. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. It was remastered and re-released in 2021 by Netflix.
I was deeply moved by the film and it brought forth many feelings and thoughts including:
a)how civilized life hangs on a narrow thread; b)how demagogues easily manipulate people; c) how lucky I am to live a comfortable life; d)how fortunate I am to have never experienced war; and mostly, e)how I’m never surprised by how easily people follow orders and inflict horrors on one each other because I’m familiar with the Millgram Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment, The Monopoly Experiment, and HUMAN HISTORY! As Hegel put it in The Philosophy of History,
But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimized — the question involuntarily arises — to what principle, to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered.
I’m sure I’ll forget about the film soon and go about my life. But it served as a temporary reminder of both the fragility of civilization and the evil that lurks within us all. The only possible solution that I know of I’ve written about many times—we must use future technologies to augment, transform, and ultimately transcend human nature.
Finally here is a piece I wrote that is related to this topic.
4 thoughts on ““The Last Days” A Documentary About the Holocaust and Hungarian Jews”
This is how my Hungarian Jewish grandmother was murdered in Auschwitz:
I often consider William Butler Yeats insightful comment: “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.” And, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Are we experiencing such a time? I saw a preview years ago similar to what is happening today in that classic 1957 movie of “A Face in the Crowd.” My fervent desire is that today’s events end as they did in that movie–with the unveiling of a demagogue.
thanks for sharing.
Before that, there was the Armenian genocide; afterwards the Cambodian genocide. The blood-dimmed tide, indeed.
What an anachronism nationalism is.