Director Sergei Loznitsa (“State Funeral,” “Donbass,” “Maidan”) has compiled a staggering amount of vintage 80-year-old footage of World War II action in Kiev and Lemberg (Lvov)in the “Babi Yar. Context” documentary. It is 1941; the opening scene is of black smoke billowing over the countryside while firing on a bridge continues. War planes soar overhead.
The 1941 film is black-and-white, although there are a few color pieces of vintage film. Throughout, one is struck by the devastation being wrought. There are tanks on the roads. Broadcasts from Moscow. Multiple explosions rock Kiev.
导演谢尔盖·洛兹尼茨（Sergei Loznitsa）说：“我与之合作的一些录像已经被埋葬在档案中了数十年 - 没人见过它，甚至没有历史学家专门从事苏联大屠杀。一个这样的事件是1941年9月Kreschatik的爆炸。基辅的中央街是由NKVD（苏联特勤局）在红军从基辅撤退之前的遥控炸药。德国人占领这座城市几天后，炸药的爆炸发生了。有平民伤亡，成千上万的人无家可归。”
不祥的是，有一大批男子的镜头，坐在地面上。苏联秘密警察NKVD种植的爆炸正在摧毁基辅。纳粹决定消除城市的犹太人，这是纳粹意识形态核心的犹太 - 布尔什维克阴谋虚假的驱动。这是消灭大城市的整个犹太人人口的第一次尝试：子弹灭绝。
他们对他们所做的是冷血的处决，杀死了33,771（尽管估计有100,000人提到了接受采访者）。The Germans rounded up the Jews via official posted announcements (They were told带来他们的贵重物品，食物和温暖的衣服)和聚集在西北部的一个峡谷的边缘Kiev known as Babi Yar (“Grandmother’s ravine”) and then the Germans and some Ukrainian soldiers who had gone over to the Nazi side systematically executed men, women and children.
If you were a curious resident of the town who wandered out to see what was going on, that might be your death sentence, as the public notices to show up were made in such a way that none imagined the barbarity of the actions taking place. “Man’s inhumanity to man” is the phrase that reoccurs, again and again. Flash forward to the photos of genocide against the people of Syria on “Sixty Minutes.” Initially.
Director Loznitsa has a much grimmer take on what happened at Babi Yar: “I study dehumanization, the loss of humanity by a human being…There was a regime change and, prior to that, a short period of chaos, of lawlessness. It is during this moment when the true nature of a human is revealed. Without control and pressure from the authorities, in an atmosphere of chaos, it seems that anything is allowed, any action can go unpunished.
毫无疑问有他们之间的义人who hid the Jews in their houses, who helped them survive. But they were few and far between. This is what scares me. Certain individuals committed heroic acts and risked their lives by helping the Jews, while thousands of others remained indifferent to their fate, preoccupied with their own ‘housing issues’ and dividing the remaining Jewish property.
Neighbors reported on neighbors, concierges acted as informants. They used the same lists of residents that they had previously supplied the NKVD with, to report the Jews to the Germans. After the massacre, a few remaining invalids and elderly Jews in the Podol district of Kiev, who were too frail to walk to Babi Yar, were hunted by the local residents, dragged out of their apartments and stoned to death. The locals did it, not the Germans. I saw the archive documents describing these atrocities with my own eyes.”
The film has shots of corpses, many bodies obviously have been there for a while. There are also shots of men carrying dead, bloody bodies out of a prison where the people had been interrogated (and then shot)。有成千上万的男人和女人在河上挖掘的场景，好像他们很乐意提供帮助。这些人不知道正在等待他们。他们被告知要携带食物和温暖的衣服和任何贵重物品，以防止他们怀疑大规模灭绝。一些犹太人确实担心最坏的情况。超过100,000人逃离了这座城市。
There is documentation of Nazi troops setting fire to homes, watching the thatched roofs burn. We see both the occupation of Lemberg (Lvov) on June 21, 1941, and, near film’s end, on November 6, 1943, the Soviets taking back Kiev.
“Hitler, the Liberator” banners are torn down when the town is re-taken. Early in the film, Stalin’s larger-than-life banner is removed to be replaced with one that says, “Long live the leader of the German people, Adolf Hitler.” One mass murderer gives way to another. And so it seems to go, worldwide, since time immemorial.
This compilation of film is truly remarkable. Finding the historical film must have been a colossal task. Jonas Zagorskas and Likas Zapearakas worked on film restoration. The quality of this 80-year-old film, some of it shot by Nazi soldiers with their own personal cameras, is amazing. The Germans were always given high marks for keeping extensive records of the atrocities they committed (这使在纽伦堡更容易审判。）
At the end of this series of historic film clips, there are trials and testimony. Hans Isenmann, an SS soldier, describes how the Germans methodically divided the killing squads into 6 men to guard and 6 men to shoot, and then armed them with a machine gun, 2 submachine guns and rifles and had them shoot people for 3 days in Babi Yar. Isenmann was a shooter and personally killed 120 people while positioned 70 to 90 meters from the edge of the pit.
The most riveting trial testimony comes from two women. One woman, with her son, made the mistake of going out to the ravine out of curiosity. The woman and her son were told to line up and she was a witness as they shot her son. Then, she fainted. When she came to, she “played dead” from 9 o’clock until 5 p.m. Then, she got up and went home.
Two Nazi soldiers, noticing that she didn’t seem to have any visible blood (她没有被枪杀）带着钉子的靴子站在她的手臂上，但她没有大声疾呼。然后，他们开始活着埋葬她。
That is when she decided it would be better to be shot than to be buried alive. As the soil began to suffocate her, she moved her arm and dug herself out. She could see flashlights (“torches” in her testimony)从上面。
狄娜（Dina）爬上了峡谷的墙壁，这非常困难，听到了她身后14个男孩的声音 - 一个小男孩，像她一样，当他的祖父被枪杀时，他像她一样陷入了坑中。当太阳升起时，他们爬过了一个大草地，躲藏起来，现在她证明了这些暴行。
正是这样的电影必须与“虚假新闻”的亚历克斯·琼斯（Alex Jones）保留，他们说大屠杀从未发生过。东欧犹太历史专家鲍里斯·切尔尼（Boris Czerny）告诉我们：“在1941年至1944年之间，将近150万乌克兰犹太人被谋杀。其中近80％的人被枪杀了。1941年9月在1941年9月的Babi Yar上处决。纳粹杀害了近100,000人，直到1943年11月苏联部队解放了基辅 - 不仅是犹太人，而且不仅是犹太人，而且还包括乌克兰的占领，波兰人，罗马人，精神病患者和囚犯。透明
The synopsis accurately described “Babi Yar. Context” as a masterfully crafted study of a human catastrophe that stands out in WWII history for its barbarism. The documentary is immersive, captivating and deeply distressing.
The film is intended for the long-overdue Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center. When complete, it will speak against such atrocities forever. It’s a riveting 2-hour slice of history.
“ Babi Yar。背景”赢得了57号国际纪录片类别中的银雨ThChicago International Film Festival, as announced Friday, October 22, 2021.