Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection
US Holocaust Memorial Museum & Yad Vashem & State of Israel
Hidden camera interview with Gustav Laabs, who drove a gas van at Chelmno. Lanzmann is challenged by two neighbors after Laabs refuses to open the door to his apartment. Additional "location" rolls contain industrial scenes and footage Lanzmann shot of a truck in transit. The truck was manufactured by the company Saurer, which also manufactured gas vans during the war. It also features multiple takes of Lanzmann reading a letter written by the engineer Dr. Becker, in which Becker details the operation of a gas van.
FILM ID 3293 -- Coupe Image II Laab[s] II Fin Chelmno II -- 14:00:11 to 14:11:53
Also labeled "Laabs CR#4-7 Maison Chelmno". This transfer was made from a very grainy black and white workprint (rushes); there is a color film original in the Archive. Streets, houses, etc. shot from a moving car. The car pulls up outside of Laabs' house and Lanzmann (not on camera) reads from the indictment at the 1963 trial. CU on one window and balcony in the apartment building. Lanzmann and a women walk up to the building. Lanzmann stands outside a door labeled "G. Laabs." He rings the doorbell but there is no answer. In the next scene Lanzmann is challenged by two residents of the building, who tell him that he cannot film people who don't wish to be filmed. They say Mr. Laabs is a good neighbor. Lanzmann tells the two neighbors of Laabs that he drove a gas van during the war and murdered over 200,000 Jews. The woman turns her back to the camera and tells Lanzmann that if she sees herself on television she will get a lawyer. The man starts to tell Lanzmann that they are from the next generation. Lanzmann says that he has given them information about their neighbor. The woman tells Lanzmann to leave and they walk away.
FILM ID 3383 -- CR#1,2,3,9,10 -- 01:00:08 to 01:23:20
View from inside a truck as Lanzmann's crew drives along a highway and industrial areas in Germany (Switzerland?). CUs of trucks. Multiple takes of Lanzmann reading engineer Dr. Becker's letter concerning the operation of the gas vans. The May 16, 1942 letter was addressed to Obersturmbahnfuehrer Walter Rauff, Central Security of the Reich in Berlin, in Kiev, Ukraine. Lanzmann reads the document in French and in German while inside the moving vehicle. Ends with recorded candid conversation in French.
FILM ID 3384 -- CR#11,12,Breme 1 -- 02:00:08 to 02:29:05
Lanzmann's crew films trucks driving along a highway in Switzerland and at a truck rest stop. CUs, a blue "Saurer" truck. "Saurer" manufactured the trucks that were used as gas vans. They were made in Kiev, Simferopol, Minsk, Riga, and Kaunas from late 1941 to 1942.
FILM ID 3385 -- Saurer 1,2,4 --03:00:09 - 03:02:40
CUs, a blue "Saurer" truck.
This interview is located on Film ID numbers 3293, 3383, 3384, and 3385. Film IDs 3383 to 3385 were preserved in 2010.
Film ID 3293 is a workprint roll (in black and white) preserved along with Simon Srebnik's interview in 2008. It corresponds to Camera Rolls 4 through 7 and labeled as "Laabs 4 - 7 Maison Chelmno" with Laabs. The original camera negative (in color) for the hidden camera interview with Gustav Laabs is currently undergoing preservation but is not available yet.
The clip that streams on the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive online catalog (www.ushmm.org/online/film) correspond to Film ID 3293. Go to collections.ushmm.org/search to watch full Film ID reels -- the more complete outtake interview.
Biography / History:
Claude Lanzmann spent more than ten years searching for survivors, perpetrators, and eyewitnesses for his nine and a half hour film "Shoah" released in 1985. Without archival footage or dramatic enactment, "Shoah" weaves together extraordinary testimonies to render the step-by-step machinery of the destruction of European Jewry. Critics have called it "a masterpiece" and a "monument against forgetting."
1996.166 The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased the Shoah outtakes from Claude Lanzmann on October 11, 1996. The Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection is now jointly owned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.
16mm original color camera negative; 1/4 inch magnetic audio track; 16mm image and sound rushes
16mm; DigiBeta; Betacam SP; VHS
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem