Documentarian Claude Lanzmann to discuss Holocaust at Vanderbilt

September 24, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn – Renowned filmmaker Claude Lanzmann will discuss both his career as a Holocaust documentarian and his experience as a young French Resistance fighter as Vanderbilt’s Chancellor’s Lecture Series presents “A Conversation with Claude Lanzmann” on Thursday, Oct. 3, at 6 p.m. in Langford Auditorium.

The address, which is free and open to the public, is also the keynote event for the Vanderbilt Holocaust Lecture Series, which will also include screenings Oct. 2 of Lanzmann’s works, A Visitor from the Living and Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m., at Sarratt Cinema. The first film will be shown at 7 p.m. and the second at 8:30 p.m.

During the conversation Oct. 3, Lanzmann, the longtime editor of one of France’s leading journals of thought and opinion, Les Temps modernes, will address questions on his and other directors’ Holocaust films as well as on additional topics raised by the audience.

With his nine-and-a-half-hour, 1985 documentary, Shoah, Lanzmann told what many consider to be the preeminent oral history of the Holocaust. Lanzmann used no archival footage in his film; there was no dramatic reconstruction of events. Instead, he provided a patient cross-examination of the survivors and guards of the Nazi concentration camps. He also conducted long conversations with local villagers, the passive collaborators in an elaborately organized extermination of over 6 million Jews and 5 million others.

With 1997’s A Visitor from the Living and 2001’s Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m., Lanzmann provides extended oral interviews that were originally shot for inclusion in Shoah. A Visitor from the Living has been called “a 65-minute postscript” to Shoah in which Lanzmann interviews Maurice Rossel, a Swiss official of the International Red Cross during World War II. Rossel describes a visit to Auchwitz, a place where the emaciated prisoners looked at him as if he were "a visitor from the living." The official also describes his inspection of Theresienstadt, which was trumped up as a “model” Jewish ghetto for Rossel’s benefit, but was in reality a death camp.

In Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m., Lanzmann interviews Yehuda Lerner, a 16-year-old boy at the time of the Holocaust’s only successful revolt of concentration camp prisoners. The title of the film refers to the specific place, date and time of the daring death-camp uprising.

Professor of French Virginia Scott will moderate the Oct. 3 conversation. Members of the Blair School faculty Amy Jarman, Christian Teal, Cassandra Lee and Bradley Mansell will open the program by performing a composition by Blair Professor Michael Alec Rose, “Merciful God (El Malei Rachamim).”

The Chancellor’s Lecture Series is designed to advance and integrate classroom learning at Vanderbilt with broader social issues and concerns and to connect the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities.

Parking for the conversation is available at the Medical Center 25th Avenue Garage. For more information about the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, please call 322-4959.

Contact: Kara Furlong, 615-322-NEWS,

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