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Hermann Landau

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5007 | Film ID: 3144, 3145, 3146, 3147

Hermann Landau talks about the rescue work of Rabbi Weissmandel, as well as rescue efforts based in Switzerland and the U.S. He describes Weissmandel as an increasingly desperate man who would not hesitate to bribe the Nazis or commit violence if it would help the Jews.

FILM ID 3144 -- Camera Rolls #143-146
Lanzmann asks Landau about his first meeting with Rabbi Weissmandel in Switzerland immediately after the war. Weissmandel was enraged with those who did not do more to help the Jews, including Landau, whom he physically attacked when they met. They discuss how Weissmandel jumped from the train bound for Auschwitz, leaving behind his wife and children. While in Switzerland Weissmandel took an entire bottle of sleeping pills and was in a coma for several days.

[CLIP 1 BEGINS] Landau talks about Weissmandel's dealings with Dieter Wisliceny, Adolf Eichmann's deputy. Landau reads from one of Weissmandel's passionate letters about what is happening to the Jews, in which he implores people to send money. They discuss Weissmandel's "Europa Plan." Landau says that they knew, from Weissmandel and from other sources, that the Jews were being exterminated, and that they believed with Weissmandel that money could save some Jews.

01:21 Film clapboard with ident. Roll NY 146. Landau says that at first Weissmandel's approach to rescuing the Jews was nonviolent but that by the end of May 1944, when the Hungarian Jews were being deported, he had changed his mind and wanted the tracks leading to Auschwitz bombed [CLIP 1 ENDS]. Landau mentions that he (Landau) was a member of the Judenrat in Belgium until 1942, when he escaped to Switzerland. He says of course it was wrong for the Judenrat to give lists of Jews to the Germans but that's what they did. [CLIP 2 BEGINS] Landau reads another letter from Weissmandel.

FILM ID 3145 -- Camera Rolls #147,148,150,152
Landau explains the meaning of Kiddush Hashem. Lanzmann asks whether any of the recipients of Weissmandel's letters put in the amount of effort that he was requesting toward the rescue of the Jews. Landau says that a couple called the Sternbuchs, who worked for the Vaad Hatzala, worked day and night on rescue efforts, including on the Sabbath. Landau reads some of the strongly-worded cables the Sternbuchs sent to New York. Landau gives some reasons why the American Jews did not give more money to save the European Jews. He says that many of the organizations involved in relief work did not understand that they must use any means necessary [CLIP 2 ENDS].

02:22:30 [CLIP 3 BEGINS] Landau talks about the history of the Vaad Hatzala. He says it began as an orthodox organization to save the yeshivas in Eastern Europe and they in fact helped get members of many yeshivas in Lithuania visas to Shanghai via Russia. Vaad Hatzala later worked on rescuing all Jews, not just the orthodox.

FILM ID 3146 -- Camera Rolls #154-158
Landau describes Weissmandel's work with Gisi Fleischmann, who as a woman and a leftist was altogether different from Weissmandel [CLIP 3 ENDS]. He describes Weissmandel's coded cables, with instructions to bomb certain cities, and the negative answers these demands received when they were transmitted to the Allies.

Landau says that after the war Weissmandel still had hope that his wife and children had survived Auschwitz. [CLIP 4 BEGINS] He reads from a letter that was sent to Sternbuch by a relative from Warsaw and deciphers its coded contents for Lanzmann, as an example of how people had to communicate at the time. Landau talks about buying passports for people, which were sent to the ghettos or internment camps [CLIP 4 ENDS].

FILM ID 3147 -- Camera Rolls #149,151,159 -- 04:00:00 to 04:05:40
Mute. Landau praying at synagogue and looking through documents with Lanzmann. CUs of a diary in Hebrew and telegrams.

Event Date
New York, NY, United States
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
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Record last modified: 2018-04-26 13:42:20
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