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Pery Broad

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5053 | Film ID: 3437, 3438, 3439, 3440, 3441, 3442, 3443, 3672, 3673, 3674, 3675, 3676, 3677, 3678, 3679, 3680, 3681, 3684, 3685, 3686, 3687, 3688, 3689

Pery Broad spent two years as a guard in Auschwitz Birkenau. Broad voluntarily wrote a report of his activities whilst working for the British as a translator in a POW camp after the war. The Broad Report corroborates extermination installations and the burning of corpses. This interview was filmed in 1979 with a hidden camera, known as a Paluche, which caught fire.

FILM ID 3438 -- Camera Rolls 1A -- 02:00:18 to 02:12:29
Lanzmann and Broad begin the interview by discussing the recently presented television miniseries, Holocaust. Broad states that he can face the past, but cannot dominate it.

FILM ID 3439 -- Camera Rolls 2A,3A,4A -- 03:00:12 to 03:26:09
Roll 2A The Holocaust would not have been possible were it not for the collaboration of several European countries. Broad expands on this by mentioning the train cars that took Jews to the camps always left the camps empty, implying that ordinary people who witnessed these events knew what was going on. Broad claims he cannot comprehend racial discrimination and anti-Semitism.

03:15:04 Roll 3A Broad refuses on principle to participate in interviews for television programs like the BBC, or for books, regarding the Holocaust.

03:19:17 Roll 4A Lanzmann and Broad discuss the report Broad wrote, specifically the atmosphere of the camp described in the report.

FILM ID 3441 -- Camera Rolls 5,6,7 -- 05:00:13 to 05:25:14
Roll 5 Citizens of the town of Auschwitz knew what was occurring in the nearby camps. Lanzmann wants Broad's permission to ask specific questions and to record them with a tape recorder. Broad is visibly uncomfortable and asks that Lanzmann first ask the question without the recorder. Lanzmann asks Broad if he remembers a Jewish Kapo named Jakubowitz, in Block 11 of Auschwitz. Broad remembers he was a boxer who was responsible for taking care of the dead bodies after executions, and physically man-handled prisoners soon to be executed. He describes him as a "very big man," and "primitive." Broad claims to have seen only two or three executions in Block 11, because he worked mostly in Birkenau at the Zigeunerlager, the portion of the camp designated for Roma. Broad draws an aerial view of the camp for Lanzmann, showing the crematoria, Roma section and women's camp. It was difficult for the authorities of Auschwitz-Birkenau to identify Roma families as they went by nicknames.

05:10:01 Roll 6 Broad began working in Birkenau in 1943, after working in Auschwitz. He attempted to leave Auschwitz several times. He tried to leave for the front but was denied because his eye sight was bad. He went back to the main part of the camp and never returned to the Roma camp.

05:13:37 Roll 7 Lanzmann states that testimonies of people who worked at the camps, as opposed to prisoners, give a more complete geographical and topographical account of the layout of the camps. Broad mentions the aerial image of Auschwitz taken by Americans during the Holocaust as well as the map he drew in 1945. Both are available to the public. Broad states that the prisoners never exhibited any violence prior to their gassing as they were too emotionally and physically tormented by that point. In order to become an interpreter for the Reich Main Security Office, Broad had to work for the SS in Auschwitz. He was depressed and very ill there, claiming he lost all interest in life. He was twenty-one years old.

FILM ID 3442 -- Camera Rolls 8-11 -- 06:02:01 to 06:18:38
Roll 8 Broad describes a meeting his aunt arranged with a Mr. Baumert, a member of the Nazi party paramilitary. Baumert proposed that Broad go to Stuttgart to become an SD officer. Broad refused the offer. Baumert told Broad that nobody was being killed in Auschwitz, that his friend Höss would have told him so. Broad states that Baumert was fully aware of what was going on, but did not want to admit it. During this meeting, Baumert told Broad that he had received negative reports on Broad. The reports regarded his perceived Bolshevik activities while a student and later at Auschwitz. However, nothing ever came of the negative reports, Broad thinks due to the level of respect his aunt had within the Nazi party. Broad's aunt knew Hitler through her father, who was a professor in Berlin and a painter. Lanzmann asks Broad how the two transports of Czech families from the Theresienstadt camp behaved when they were led to the gas chambers in Auschwitz.

06:11:26 Roll 9 Broad is unable to corroborate the extreme violence the SS guards placed on the Czech families before they were gassed. Broad talks about a story he heard during the war, in which Goebbels gave an order to release two or three prisoners from Auschwitz.

06:14:45 Rolls 10-11 When the escapees from Auschwitz told of the gassing and extermination taking place in the camp, it was so incredible that no one believed them. Goebbels was spared from having to contradict the news as no one believed it. Broad compares this disbelief to the behavior of the Hungarian prisoners at Auschwitz, explaining that their disbelief at their situation caused them not to react violently when let to the gas chambers. Broad believes the prisoners could have escaped easily if 2000 of them had rushed the fence. He claims there was no barbed wire on the fences and that they were not electrified.

FILM ID 3437 -- Camera Rolls 1,2,1A,2A -- Rushes -- 01:00:09 to 01:31:10
Roll 1 Interiors of the minibus used to record the hidden camera interview with Pery Broad. Two technicians monitor the video and audio transmission. The picture goes in and out. Broad speaks in English about prisoners of Auschwitz and the ability to escape (corresponds to Camera Rolls 10-11). You can also hear the camera crew in the van in French.

01:05:38 Roll 2 Again from inside the minibus with the technicians speaking in French. The picture goes in and out. Broad talks about a story he heard of during the war, in which Goebbels gave an order to release two or three prisoners from Auschwitz. When they told of the gassing and extermination taking place in the camp, it was so incredible that no one believed them. Goebbels was spared from having to contradict the news as no one believed it. (corresponds to Camera Rolls 10-11)

01:11:13 From inside the minibus, a crew member introduces Roll 1(1A?). He says something like "trying to tune into Perry Broad, we are interested in what he has to say. We will choose what Claude is interested in. There is no image, we only have the rushes." Broad claims he only entered the crematoria at Birkenau after it was shut down. He can describe the crematoria in detail because he had a friend who worked at the building administration for the camp. Plans of the camp, including the gas chambers, were publicly available. The crematorium looked like a factory. Lanzmann and Broad discuss the layout of the different crematoria. Broad describes an instance when a Sonderkommando said to a guard "give me one bread and I'll slaughter a hundred Jews."

01:22:27 From inside the minibus, the man on the left says "Perry Broad 2" as he uses the clapper (Roll 2A?). Broad shows Lanzmann the sentence leveled against him in the aftermath of the Holocaust. He describes a witness at his trial who overheard a conversation Broad had with a woman who had just arrived at the camp. When she asked if they were going to be murdered he told her not to believe the stories the inmates told. This account proved Broad's presence at the ramp during the selection process. Lanzmann adds that the Kanada Kommando, the Jewish inmates in charge of collecting victim's belongings, said the same thing to other prisoners about to be murdered.

FILM ID 3440 -- Camera Rolls 3,4 -- Camion Exterior -- 04:00:10 to 04:03:10
Exteriors of the red and white Volkswagen minibus used to record the hidden camera interview with Pery Broad. The minibus is parked on Eugen-Langen Str. CUs, antenna. MS, apartment complex. Another shot of the exterior of the van and antenna.

FILM ID 3443 -- Camera Rolls 11-13A -- Int. Camion Broad -- 07:00:13 to 07:10:56
Views of an apartment balcony from a small window inside the minibus. A man (Broad?) is on the balcony. Zoom back to see inside the back of the minibus with equipment and crew recording the hidden camera interview. Broad can seen on the two video monitors in black and white. Zoom back to the outside through the window. 07:04:44 New roll shows the technicians inside the minibus, with sound. 07:08:14 Another roll from inside the minibus, zooming out the window to the balcony, no sound.

--- The following reels contain audio only. ---

FILM ID 3667 -- Broad 1 -- see picture above in FV3438 (Camera Roll 1A) and FV3439 (Camera Roll 2A).
FILM ID 3668 -- Broad 2 -- see picture above in FV3439 (Camera Rolls 2A,3A) (FV3439). This audio roll begins with a some minutes of non-interview related chatter.
FILM ID 3669 -- Broad 3 -- see picture above in FV3439 (Camera Roll 4A) and FV3441 (Camera Roll 5)
FILM ID 3670 -- Broad 4 -- see picture above in FV3441 (Camera Rolls 6,7)
FILM ID 3671 -- Broad 5 -- see picture above in FV3442 (Camera Rolls 8-11)
FILM ID 3682 -- Broad 16 -- see picture above in FV3437 (Camera Roll 1,1A)
FILM ID 3683 -- Broad 17 -- see picture above in FV3437 (Camera Roll 2A)

FILM ID 3672 -- Broad 6
Lanzmann asks if the reason Broad did not give names in his report was out of solidarity with the perpetrators. Broad dismisses this idea, claiming he did not care about the names of the butchers but rather the destiny of the inmates.

FILM ID 3673 -- Broad 7
Broad witnessed one gassing while working at Auschwitz. He witnessed unidentified SS men wearing gas masks pour Zyklon B through the roofs of the gas chambers. He saw two or three executions in the courtyard of Block 11, which the Gestapo Grabner and his staff where responsible for. Broad says he was lucky not to have to deal with the prisoners directly. Directly killing so many people was too much even for the SS, and so the gas chambers came into existence. Killings in the courtyard were very different, they were not anonymous and they were deliberately horrific. Broad fainted once from watching an execution in Block 11.

FILM ID 3674 -- Broad 8
They take a break to drink a bottle of champagne and discuss work. Lanzmann asks if Broad had any friends in the SS, to which he replies there is no such thing. He had a German friend named Karl Hueges who had to join the SS to avoid being put in a concentration camp himself. He was a Communist who according to Broad hated the SS. Yet after being imprisoned after the war in Ukraine, he became sympathetic to the Nazi regime.

FILM ID 3675 -- Broad 9
As an example of what he terms "the grotesque," Broad tells a story about an Jew named Unikower who was arrested by the Soviets after he was liberated from Auschwitz. In response to a question from Lanzmann Broad says he does not remember Yossele [Josef] Rosensaft, the so-called King of Bergen-Belsen. Broad defends his actions at Auschwitz by saying that he did not tell anyone about the activities and statements of Eisenschimmel, the Kapo of the Effektenkammer ["Kanada"], and that Dunia Wasserstrom, a survivor and witness at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, did not accuse him of murder. He provides another example of a witness who said that Broad disobeyed an order to send Jews to their deaths. When Lanzmann asks him whether anyone spoke against him at the trial Broad says yes but it was proved later that they could not have known him. Lanzmann asks Broad about the Auschwitz Hefte and Broad says he read them in prison and found them quite objective. Broad confirms that there was a brothel in the main camp and states that it was staffed with German prisoners, not Jews, because of the prohibition against race mixing (Rassenschande). He says that the brothel was used by privileged prisoners, not by the SS, "what would Himmler have said?"

FILM ID 3676 -- Broad 10
Broad remembers the SS Officer Johann Schwarzhuber, but not specific instances of his cruelty. Broad says that he doesn't have much to tell Lanzmann about Schwarzhuber or about Mengele. He says he remembered Mengele having a good relationship with the Roma and with the Jewish camp doctor and he found the later allegations against Mengele incomprehensible. Lanzmann asks whether Broad was at the selection ramp many times and Broad says that he was not assigned any duties at the ramp. Broad witnessed the selection process at the ramp on numerous occasions, and would even talk with the Jews to learn where they came from. The group takes a break to eat and discuss languages and French literature.

FILM ID 3677 -- Broad 11
Still eating dinner, Broad discusses how he did not discover he was a Brazilian citizen until 1936-37. At the outbreak of the war at the age of 21, Broad was happily studying in Berlin. While trying to extend his stay in Germany, he was told to leave since the war was starting. As he had no money, he could not consider that option. One architect raised an argument with Broad after reading his postwar statement implicating the Germans in atrocities. Sound very muffled. Broad, Lanzmann, and Corinna speak French, English and German but the conversation is not discernable. Despite being a Brazilian citizen, Broad had to prepare to be sent to the front. His aunt arranged for Broad to sit for an exam to become a translator, after which he received an offer from the SS.

FILM ID 3678 -- Broad 12
Broad began his military training in Finland and then Greece. He describes how he was an unfit soldier and a failure in Nazi eyes. Humorously, he describes his physique to have been like a spider. Deemed unsuitable for service, he was sent to work at Auschwitz, where he claims he had no idea what it was. Lanzmann asks whether Broad believes a man such as SS Officer Christian Wirth, in charge of the nationwide euthanasia program, can be believed when he claimed he had no idea what Sobibor was before he arrived there. Lanzmann seems to imply that he does not believe Broad when he claims he had no idea what Auschwitz was. Broad describes the camp overseer, Wilhelm Boger, as a primitive man who believed in the Nazi agenda and was thus convinced of his innocence for the tortures he committed.

FILM ID 3679 -- Broad 13
Broad doubts that his aunt had anything to do with sending him to work at Auschwitz. Her family was very rich and her father had painted Hitler. He arrived at Auschwitz in April 1942. He describes how over a period of a couple months he learned the true nature of Auschwitz. A German Kapo told him more about the camp. He heard rumors of gassings, but none of the guards dared to discuss it. Broad smelled the stench of burning corpses, but didn't think anything of it since people died all the time from illness and were burned.

FILM ID 3680 -- Broad 14
Lanzmann and Broad argue about the layout of Block 11. Broad witnessed Ruldof Mildner, head of the political department at Auschwitz, interrogate a boy who had stolen margarine.

FILM ID 3681 -- Broad 15
The political department at Block 11 followed protocols. The tried prisoners were interrogated and examined by medical doctors before their executions. Everything was recorded. Before the construction of the four crematoriums, two small farmhouses served as the gassing sites. They discuss the mass graves where the bodies were later dug up by the Kommando 1005 of Vilna, in an effort to destroy evidence of the atrocities committed. Sound of running water. Some French. Nobody speaks for a period of time. They discuss the title of an article (The Tour Guide through Hell) that appeared in "Die Zeit" newspaper about Broad. Broad says that there were things that happened during the Auschwitz trial that could also be termed "grotesque." He says that some members of the Israeli secret service were at the trial but he wasn't sure why or what they meant to accomplish. Lanzmann asks why in his report, Broad does not refer to himself using the word, "Ich/I." Broad says that the numerous investigators may have convinced him to not use the German word "Ich/I" in case he described an event he himself did not witness. Lanzmann comments that often people do not use the word "Ich/I" so they may distance themselves from the reality of what happened.

FILM ID 3684 -- Broad 18
Lanzmann and Broad discuss the maximum speed of Broad's new Opel. They read over the documentation about the fine that Broad received as part of the judgment against him. Lanzmann says in English that he feels like Germany hasn't changed much, that his fine could have been imposed by a Nazi. Broad continues to complain about the judgment against him and seems to be paging through a document because he wants to show Lanzmann something in particular. He continues to complain about his legal problems and Lanzmann says he is tired he must go. Broad attempts to get Lanzmann to stay for one more cigarette. Lanzmann agrees and Broad announces that he thinks this will be the last time he talks about Auschwitz.

FILM ID 3685 -- Broad 19
Broad tells Lanzmann that he was afraid before the interview that he would again become depressed after recounting the events of Auschwitz. Yet, he admits that Lanzmann showed sensitivity while interviewing him. Lanzmann says he came back to interview Broad after three years and he still does not fully understand him. They end the interview for the day.

FILM ID 3686 -- Broad 20
Lanzmann and Broad say their good-byes and Lanzmann departs. Lanzmann and his assistant Corinna Coulmas talk about how the camera was out of action.

FILM ID 3687 -- Broad 21
Cinematographer Dominique Chapuis listens and comments in French while watching part of the interview.

FILM ID 3688 -- Broad 22
Chapuis discusses how they are filming Broad, and then plays part of the interview back.

FILM ID 3689 -- Broad 23
Chapuis discusses how they are filming Broad, and then plays part of the interview back.

Event:  Summer 1979
Production:  1985
Wuppertal, Germany
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:48:07
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