Berlinale: Programme

Film file


Un vivant qui passe

A Visitor from the Living

Ein Lebender geht vorbei

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During World War II, Dr. Maurice Rossel, a Swiss army officer and doctor, became a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at the age of 25. He was sent to Germany, where he inspected POW and labour camps. He was also involved in prisoner of war exchanges. In 1943, on his own initiative, alone and without giving prior notice, he drove to Auschwitz with the vague idea of helping prisoners there by organising deliveries of medical supplies. But his meeting with the camp commandant produced no results. In 1944, Rossel was part of an ICRC commission to which the Germans granted permission for a visit to Theresienstadt, which the Nazis promoted as a "model ghetto", but which was actually a concentration camp. Located north of Prague, many prominent or wealthy Jews were interned there before being deported to extermination camps. In his report on the visit, Rossel called conditions in the camp "satisfactory". Claude Lanzmann interviewed him in 1979, but ended up not using the interview in Shoah, which did not address Theresienstadt. In Un vivant qui passe, Lanzmann contrasts Rossel’s statements with information from contemporary files.

France 1997, 65 min


Claude Lanzmann