Marta Weiss, a Polish Jew, arrives by cattle car at the Auschwitz-Birkenau. She catches the attention of the camp commandant while translating his words from German into Polish to her fellow deportees. When she inquires about the factory at the camp a fellow inmate informs her it's a crematorium and that the rest of her family has been murdered. In the barracks, many of the women are dying and ill. Eugenia, a prisoner-doctor, tries her best to administer to them, but is unable to do much. The women learn that the International Red Cross is coming to the camp to observe the conditions of the prisoners. Eugenia learns a few key phrases in German and is able to tell the observers that everything they see is a lie and that people are dying. The SS tell the observers that Eugenia is mentally ill. Later they torture her to find out who taught her the German phrases, but Eugenia refuses to tell them and is murdered. Eugenia is replaced by Lalunia, a Polish Jew, who claims to have been rounded up by mistake and says she's a doctor, though she's actually only the wife of a pharmacist. However rather than administer medicine to the women of the camp, she distributes them among the kapos in exchange for luxuries like clothes and perfume.
The film, done in a demi-documentary fashion, is meant to reflect the personal experiences of the scriptwriter's time in the woman's camp at Birkenau. It is one of the earliest films about the Holocaust, and while there are unmistakable, historical errors and dramatic effects that take away from the truth, it is overall not only very accurate, but its treatment of the camp's Jews is especially sympathetic and factual ... something not always easy to find in postwar Poland. Unfortunately, there's also the artificial camraderie between the camp's Soviet prisoners and everyone else; the stress on a heroine's communist background, which landed her in the camp; and a soft-pedalling of the more horrific, daily events, which, by today's standards, would be considered shown in a rather trivial fashion. Nevertheless, for the time, a very poignant and powerful depiction. How the residents of the town of Auschwitz -- many of whom took part as extras in the movie -- dealt with having this movie filmed at the site of the camp not more than two or so years after its liberation will remain a perplexing, unanswered question.
Oparta na wspomnieniach, na wpół dokumentalna opowieść o martyrologii kobiet w niemieckim obozie Auschwitz-Birkenau i bohaterstwie więźniów z izby chorych, tworzących w tym „kombinacie śmierci” ruch oporu. Obraz ludzkich cierpień i tragedii, ale także walki człowieka o swoją godność. Polska Żydówka, Marta, pełni w obozie funkcję tłumaczki, pomaga innym więźniarkom i działa w organizacji ruchu oporu. Po nieudanej próbie ucieczki ginie tuż przed wyzwoleniem obozu. Helenę ukrywa w obozowym szpitalu francuska więźniarka, lecz nowo narodzone dziecko uśmierca niemiecki lekarz. Eugenia, rosyjska lekarka, za pomoc udzialaną chorym i organizowanie oporu zostaje poddana torturom i stracona. Niemiecka komunistka, demaskuje pseudolekarkę niemiecką, Lalunię, i trafia do obozowego bunkra. Wśród oprawców jest i sadystyczna Rapportfuehrerin, i zbrodniczy lekarz, i okrutna, bezwzględna, choć nie pozbawiona pewnych ludzkich cech Oberaufseherin. Film kończy wezwanie umierającej Marty: „Nie pozwólcie, żeby Oświęcim się powtórzył!”.
DVD-R is in German, Russian, Polish and French with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 104 mins. See film sample for film quality!
REGION FREE (will play in any DVD player)