Humanity has often been subdued by ruthless impulses of tyrants. People have been slaughtered and freedom has been lost (and regained) in many periods of the history of humanity. One of the most infamously memorable and tragic moments of our past is the Holocaust. For the uninitiated, Holocaust was the mass genocide committed during World War II by Nazi forces and their allies that resulted in the murder of close to six million Jews. To this day, the Holocaust is considered as one of the biggest mass murder events in the history of mankind.
Holocaust movies have not only focused on the atrocities committed during the time of World War II, but also the following years and decades wherein one could see the after-effects of the crimes. Most of these films have focused on grim central ideas and forgotten heroes who succeeded in saving the Jewish populace to the extent they could. However meagre they might be on Netflix, their overall presence is significant. Here’s a list of really good Holocaust movies on Netflix today. And be warned, some of these are real tear-jerkers. You can also watch several of these films on Hulu or Amazon Prime. The list also includes holocaust documentaries on Netflix.
16. The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)
The Photographer of Mauthausen, also known as El fotógrafo de Mauthausen, is a 2018 Spanish biography drama historical film. Based on real events, the film revolves around Francesc Boix is a Spaniard inmate in the Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen in Austria who tries to save the evidences of the horrors committed inside its walls. It is easily one of the most eye-opening films on this list. Watch the movie here.
15. Playing for Time (1980)
In what seems like one of the most defining films of the ’80s, Playing For Time is the story of a French-Jewish singer and pianist Fania is being sent to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the second world war by the Nazi forces. Fania, given herself being a musician, is not subject to the atrocities as are others but is enlisted in an orchestra called the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz. Fina, using her influence among the other singers and in order to help her friend out, enlists Marianne in the singing group as well. Though the women of the orchestra are subject to lesser torture, fed well and are looked after, they still suffer physical and mental abuse regardless. Fania is seemingly stuck between a rock and a hard place. ‘Playing for Time’ is a tear-jerking film, so keep your tissues handy. Watch the movie here.
14. Hitler’s Steel Beast (2016)
A defining documentary about Hitler’s specially-built train that could withstand attacks from bombs, bullets and aerial warfare, ‘Hitler’s Steel Beast’ might not be a film that “highlights” the holocaust but definitely touches upon it at many points. The movie begins with how Hitler’s train was a bunker, his headquarter and refuge on wheels, an Air Force One of sorts, only not airborne. It is said that Hitler took many decisive meetings onboard his Steel Beast, made history and was confined in it during the final days of the war. Dispelling rumours and telling us about the “lost treasure” of the second world war, a very few records remain of Hitler’s Steel Beast to this day. Set during the days of the Holocaust until the death of Hitler, perhaps this was the most famous train of the time. Watch the movie here.
13. Come What May (2015)
Set during the second world war, ‘Come What May’ is the narrative of the events that took place during the Nazi invasion of Belgium and France in the ’40s. The story begins with the invasion and how perturbed the people of Pas-de-Calais, a small French village are. As it turns out, the inhabitants of the village hit the road. The villagers are also taking care of a young German boy who is the son of a German “traitor” – a man who apparently opposed the Nazi dominion and was put in jail. Once released, the father sets off to find his son along with a Scottish soldier and the journey is as gripping as it could get. ‘Come What May’ might not have gotten the traction it deserved, but it still is one of the emotionally demanding films set during the Holocaust. Watch the movie here.
12. The Resistance Banker (2018)
The Resistance Banker is set during the Dutch resistance of the ’40s. Essentially a biopic of a Dutch banker named Walraven van Hall, the film begins its story in the German-occupied Netherlands when Van Hall is approached by one of the members of the Dutch resistance seeking funding using his outreach. Along with his brother, Van Hall devises a foolproof network of fake loans to fund guerilla warfare and to help out the ones in exile. The brothers then go ahead with creating fraud guilders worth millions to further the resistance movement from the Dutch bank, right under the nose of the Nazis at that time. Holland is liberated soon after 1945 as Hall goes into the hiding to escape his capture. With remarkable performances, this one is a must see. Watch the movie here.
11. Suite Francaise (2014)
Lucile and her overbearing mother-in-law Angelier are living in Nazi-occupied France. Lucile is awaiting any news on her husband Gaston’s whereabouts. Gaston had served in the French army and has been missing ever since. A group of German soldiers have occupied their town and are moving into individual houses to stay. Bruno is just another German soldier staying at the Angelier’s along with many other tenants and German soldiers. While Lucile still awaits news from her husband, she develops a liking for Bruno despite criticism from everyone in the town. Bruno also has a penchant for piano music and to everyone’s resentment, he gifts her ‘Suite Francaise’ – one of his many compositions. A heartwarming love story amid the perils of Holocaust, ‘Suite Francaise’ boasts of strong performances and one of the finest production designs in recent times. Watch the movie here.
10. Fanny’s Journey (2016)
Believe it or not, most of the Holocaust related films have either been inspired by real-life stories or are based on them. ‘Fanny’s Journey’ is yet another example of an incredibly inspiring Fanny, a 13-year-old girl who is taken by her mother along with younger sisters Erika and Georgette to spend the wartime in a peaceful, neutral Italian boarding school. Given their Jewish descent, it was even more imperative that they got out of danger zone. But as German raids begin, the Jewish school children are forced to flee, including Fanny and her sisters. Fanny has to get to the Swiss border before things could get worse, along with baggage of 10 children who are younger than her. ‘Fanny’s Journey’ is inspiring, scintillating and tear-jerking, with decent performances and an impeccable storyline. Watch the movie here.
9. Run Boy Run (2013)
Srulik, an eight-year-old boy, flees from the Warsaw ghetto in 1942. He attempts to survive, at first alone in the forest, and then as a Christian orphan named Jurek on a Polish farm. Based on the bestseller by Uri Orlev, this one (like all of the films in this list) is not an easy movie to watch. The young actors who play Srulik/Jurek do an absolutely astonishing job because they perfectly capture the raw emotion and pain of having to be on the run for 3 years in the Polish countryside. In addition, the movie features a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack, by Stéphane Moucha. Watch the movie here.
8. Look Who’s Back (2015)
‘Look Who’s Back’ is a satirical take on Hitler and what happens when he reappears in modern times, precisely in 2014. The movie begins with Hitler waking up in his bunker and meandering into the city. He consistently asks for the way to Reichs Chancellery, but everyone assumes he’s an impersonator who is mocking Hitler. When comes to know about the current “plight” of Germany and that Poland is no longer under German control, he faints. When he wakes up, he resolves to continue his fight for the betterment of Germany and prepares to return to politics. Thankfully, the movie makers chose to conclude on that note and didn’t go any further. Surprisingly, the movie was an immense success commercially as well as critically. Watch the movie here.
7. Riphagen – The Untouchable (2016)
As opposed to the patriot Walraven Van Hall stood for Dutch people by funding the Dutch resistance for all we know, Riphagen literally ripped the country off for his own good. He was a traitor who treacherously stole the riches, handed Jews over to the Nazis, systematically hunted and brought down the resistance and subdued any kind of justice. ‘Riphagen – The Untouchable’ is essentially an account of the spiteful activities undertaken by Riphagen and their consequences. Watch the movie here.
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6. Remember (2015)
‘Remember’ revolves around Zev Guttman, a survivor of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, who is ailing in an NYC nursing home suffering from dementia due to old age. He is convinced by Max, a fellow survivor who is now incapacitated, to avenge the deaths of their family members who had died in the concentration camp and the atrocities were affected by one Otto Wallisch. At Max’s behest, he heads out of the nursing home in search of Wallisch. Things fall in line one after another and he manages to catch hold of a man named Rudy Kurlander who confesses having committed many crimes but says he isn’t Wallisch but Zev is. Zev then remembers, based on a tattoo, that he and Kurlander had a pact to pose as “survivors” and escape any justice. Zev shoots himself in guilt as he remembers. Christopher Plummer plays Zev in the movie and is as effective as always. Watch the movie here.
5. Hitler: A Career (1977)
Perhaps one of the most defining documentaries made on the life and times of Hitler, this film is about the lust for power that led to the death and displacement of millions and forced many countries into war. The abuse of power that Hitler afflicted are put forward in an objective manner so that audiences really get to know he really was. Hitler actually hired a bunch of photographs for the photo-ops to further his propaganda is an astonishing truth that is the crux of this documentary. ‘Hitler: A Career’ features rare clippings, photographs, and video reels of his speeches, that were decisive moments in history, which changed the course of Germany and the rest of the world as we know it. Watch the movie here.
4. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)
My favourite movie on this list, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is one of the best tear-jerkers based in the Holocaust era. The movie begins with a young German boy Bruno whose family is on the move to German-occupied Poland — his father Ralf is a commanding officer in the local concentration camp, while he lives with his sister Gretel and mother Elsa. Bruno is of an adventurous nature and since there’s no one to play with, he befriends Shmuel, another boy of his age from across an electrified fence, thus indicating that Shmuel is actually a prisoner at the camp his father looks after. Bruno would steal time away to meet Shmuel, play with him and is often intrigued by Shmuel’s dress – striped pyjamas. Shmuel is disturbed by the fact that his father’s been missing for a few days, thus indicating to the audiences that he might have been gassed. Bruno decides to cross over and search for Shmuel’s father. Bruno crosses over wearing the clothes provided by Shmuel, but soon finds himself lined up for gassing. ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ is as emotionally wrenching as a movie can get. Watch the movie here.
3. Nazi Concentration Camps (1945)
“Nazi Concentration Camps” is the official documentary report compiled from over 80,000 feet of film shot by Allied military photographers in the German concentration camps immediately after liberation. The footage was taken in order to provide proof of the horrors the liberators witnessed. Besides that, some attention is also placed on the humanitarian work done in the camps by the rescuers. Watch the movie here.
2. The Pianist (2002)
Set in 1939, during the brink of the second world war, Wladyslaw Szpilman is a Jewish pianist residing in Poland. When Warsaw gets invaded by the Nazis, Jews start getting rounded up for persecution. Szpilman and his family are condemned to a ghetto with deteriorating conditions. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising follows, and Warsaw is soon in ruins with an intensifying war. Hosenfeld is a German army officer who takes note of Szpilman as a pianist and keeps the latter in the hiding and supplies him with food and water. After 1945, when German soldiers are captured, Hosenfeld is too, but he expects Szpilman to return the favour. Szpilman tries but fails and later it is revealed that Hosenfeld died in Soviet captivity in 1952, 48 years before Szpilman’s death. Watch the movie here.
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1. Schindler’s List (1993)
The film focuses on wealthy businessman Oskar Schindler, who spends his fortune and risks his life to save the lives of 1100 Jewish men and women in German-occupied Poland. Winner of seven Oscars, “Schindler’s List” tells an important story that reminds us that there are still good people in the world who believe in humanity. Steven Spielberg created a three-hour moving story that is cold and cruel but that will also win your heart. Moreover, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson are incredible in their realistic portrayal of Amon Goeth and Oskar Schindler, respectively. Watch the movie here.
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