An important doc about the remaining Nazis in this world.
We’re already in the 2020s, and the last generation of Nazis or those who knew them have their own stories and perspectives to tell about the worst human crimes in recorded history. “Final Account” is a documentary that gathers up all the old German folks willing to admits their loyalty and faults during the Holocaust. Cinematographer/producer/director Luke Holland dedicates this movie to his murdered grandparents as well as those who suffered horribly in the camps. And this happens to be his first and only theatrical release, as he passed away last summer. What a worthy final chapter to his small independent career.
Now, before we begin this movie review, I want to make an important distinction. My last name is Zweig, which is German for branch. My grandfather Julius, who is still alive, served in the United States Army, so it’s an honor to be German whose ancestors had absolutely nothing to do with Adolf Hitler’s evil dictatorship, known as the Third Reich. I just wanted to clarify that in case some people were concerned, which I honesty doubt. And I’m also not related to Stefan Zweig, but that’s another story.
I wasn’t able to get all the names of the interviewees, but I have caught on to their aspects. They consist of SS officers and civilians, who knew what they were engaged in, and respond to the moderator what their lives were like, how they went in these directions, and if they regret any of their actions.
Some of the interviewees dreamed of wearing the uniforms, others were forced to become Nazis, some of them had relatives or friends who became them, some of them turned out to be related to Jewish people, some of them acknowledge that businesses in Germany were successful, and some of them are ashamed to be involved with this nightmare. I empathize the word “nightmare.” And I say “some,” because not all of them have changed their opinions, and we’re still proud to follow Hitler’s ways. But even they still had the evil gene in them, even if they were forced to do the horrors against their will, and even if didn’t do the exact heinous crimes, they would still call themselves “perpetrators” today.
I didn’t get every detail in “Final Account,” but I was still dazzled at Luke Holland’s ability to present to us what the last generation of the Third Reich felt about the war during their travels. Half of them say they regret being involved, but the Holocaust is still unforgivable on all accounts. I’m not Jewish, so I can’t speak for them about their nightmares in the camps, which you all know included gassing and all kinds of torture. Holland paints the picture with horrifying and artistic images-some of which have signs that translated “Jews are not welcome here” or “No Jews in the German woods.”
It’s a once in a lifetime chance to interview the remaining Nazis in this world and see impact the war has had on them. They all tell it like it was, and whether or not they feel guilty about it. The last 10-15 minutes of the movie set that notion into place, and the interviewees present themselves with honesty and life. I’m not saying we should forgive these people if they are sorry; I’m saying we should see what their lives were like before and after the war.
“Final Account” is so informative and crucial that it should have required viewings for schools and colleges learning about the history of the Holocaust. It’s about life viewed from the eyes of the former Nazis or SS officers, or anyone involved with them, and Holland deserves some posthumous credit for this.