Humanity has often been subdued by the ruthless impulses of tyrants. People have been slaughtered, and freedom has been lost in many wars since the very beginning of time. But one of the most infamous and tragic moments of our past is the Holocaust. The mass genocide committed during World War II by Nazi forces and their allies resulted in the murder of close to six million Jews. Add to this the fact that it happened in recent history, and the war will have you questioning the very existence of humanity. There is a reason that, to this day, the Holocaust is considered one of the biggest genocides in the history of mankind.
Holocaust movies have not only focused on the atrocities committed during World War II but also on the following decades, wherein one could see the after-effects of the crimes. Most of these films have focused on grim central ideas and forgotten heroes who succeeded in saving the Jewish populace. However meager the collection of such productions might be on Netflix, their overall presence is significant.
18. Will (2024)
Directed by Tim Mielants, ‘Will’ is a Belgian film based on Belgian author Jeroen Olyslaegers’ novel of the same name. It follows auxiliary police officer Wilfried Wils as he tries to cope with his surroundings in Nazi-occupied Antwerp, Belgium, during World War II. How Wilfried and his partner Lode, who ends up killing a Nazi officer while trying to save a Jewish family, navigate through friendship, trust, values, resistance, and war is what we get to see in the film. Stef Aerts plays the role of Wilfried Wils, and Matteo Simoni plays the role of Lode. You can watch the film here.
17. Filip (2022)
Directed by Michał Kwieciński and written by Kwieciński and Michał Matejkiewicz, ‘Filip’ is a Polish war film based on Leopold Tyrmand’s 1961 semi-biographical novel of the same name. Set in 1943, the film follows Filip (Eryk Kulm Jr.), a young, handsome man from Poland who escapes from the Warsaw ghetto and takes refuge as a waiter in a luxurious hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. His disguise lets him relish luxury, women, and friends, and everything seems to be going smoothly. However, in a war-torn world, things are bound to turn upside down, and this will spill his secret sooner or later. Is he prepared for that? To find out, you can stream the film here.
16. The Champion (2020)
‘The Champion,’ aka ‘The Champion of Auschwitz,’ is a 2020 Polish sports drama that centers on real-life Polish boxer/Polish soldier/Nazi concentration camps prisoner Tadeusz Pietrzykowski who got famous for his string of victories in boxing matches held in the camps (Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and Neuengamme camp) from 1940 to 1945 (World War II). The film is written and directed by Maciej Barczewski and stars Piotr Głowacki as Tadeusz Pietrzykowski. You can watch the film here.
15. Blood and Gold (2023)
‘Blood & Gold,’ directed by Peter Thorwarth, is a compelling Holocaust movie set in the tumultuous spring of 1945, on the cusp of World War II’s conclusion. What makes it a remarkable addition to the genre is its portrayal of Elsa and Heinrich, who, despite their differing backgrounds, unite in a shared pursuit of justice against the Nazis and for their families. Heinrich’s quest to find his daughter intertwines with Elsa’s remote village, concealing a Jewish treasure coveted by the Nazis. This action-packed narrative pits villagers against the SS in a relentless search for the gold, unveiling long-buried secrets and culminating in a harrowing and poignant showdown within the village church. “Blood & Gold” stands out as a potent Holocaust film by emphasizing not only the horrors of the era but also the resilience and unity of those who resisted the Nazi regime, shedding light on lesser-known aspects of this dark period in history. You can watch the movie here.
14. Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate (2023)
‘Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate,’ directed by Benjamin Cantu, sheds light on the untold story of LGBT individuals in the Weimar Republic and under Nazi rule, intricately woven into the broader Holocaust narrative. Focused on Berlin’s Eldorado, a pivotal queer nightclub, the film delves into the lives of notable figures like Ernst Röhm, Magnus Hirschfeld, and others. The documentary meticulously explores the complexities of queer existence during the 1920s and 1930s, highlighting the repression faced under the notorious Paragraph 175 law. Through interviews with survivors like Walter Arlen, a young gay Jew in Interwar Austria, the film intertwines personal stories with historical context, painting a poignant picture of resilience amidst the horrors of the Holocaust. This documentary not only commemorates the struggles of the LGBT community but also serves as a vital reminder of the diverse narratives entwined within the Holocaust’s devastating tapestry. You may watch it here.
13. The Forgotten Battle (2021)
Set in German-occupied Zeeland, ‘The Forgotten Battle’ is a haunting account of events that bind together three seemingly unrelated individuals in the days leading up to the Battle of the Scheldt. The first of the three, Teuntje Visser, is a reluctant Resistance recruit who finds solace in the movement after the Nazis execute her brother for attacking a convoy. Although Marinus van Staveren, a Dutch Nazi volunteer, sympathizes with Teuntje and tries to get a lighter sentence for her brother, the system ultimately gets the upper hand.
Disillusioned by the Nazi regime and all that it stands for, Staveren grows increasingly unsure about his alliance with the Nazi cause. Meanwhile, Glider Pilot Regiment Sergeant Will Sinclair and a few others crash land in the area before coming into combat with German troops. As the events leading up to the Battle of Walcheren Causeway, the movie wonderfully portrays how fate intertwines the trio’s lives, with each playing a part in the other’s redemption. Feel free to check out the movie here.
12. Ordinary Men: The Forgotten Holocaust (2022)
The Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen trial of 1947/1948, captured in this gripping documentary, stands as a stark reminder of humanity’s darkest chapter. Serving as the largest murder trial in history, it delves into the atrocities committed by members of four death squads from the security police and SS’s security service. What makes this documentary a powerful testament to the Holocaust is its unflinching portrayal of the systematic mass shootings that claimed the lives of two million people, a horrifying reality often overshadowed by the concentration camps’ horrors.
Through meticulous research, including written records, original documents, film footage, and survivor accounts, the film confronts viewers with the chilling truth of ordinary men turning into remorseless killers. This unfiltered glimpse into the depths of human depravity and the courage of survivors makes it an essential and gut-wrenching Holocaust documentary, serving as a vital historical document and a compelling call for remembrance. You can check out the documentary here.
11. Riphagen – The Untouchable (2016)
As opposed to the patriot Walraven Van Hall, who stood for the Dutch people by funding the resistance, Riphagen ripped the country off for his own good. He was a traitor who treacherously stole the many riches, handed Jews over to the Nazis, systematically hunted and brought down the resistance, and subdued any kind of justice. ‘Riphagen – The Untouchable’ is essentially an account of the spiteful activities undertaken by Riphagen and the aftermath of these events. You can watch the movie here.
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10. My Best Friend Anne Frank (2021)
A heart-touching yet haunting holocaust drama film, ‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ chronicles the true story of the relationship between celebrated diarist Anne Frank and her best friend, Hannah Goslar. While most viewers are aware of Anne Frank and the horrendous treatment she and her loved ones received at the hands of Nazi troops, the movie upholds the viewpoint of Hannah Goslar and documents how she and Anne grew up in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Interestingly, the beginning of the film is quite lively, with Anne and Hannah making wonderful memories and enjoying the little pleasures of Amsterdam. However, the tone darkens with time as circumstances force the two friends to go into hiding until they reunite at a German concentration camp. You can watch ‘My Best Friend Anne Frank’ here.
9. Hitler: A Career (1977)
Perhaps one of the most defining documentaries made on the life and times of Hitler, this film is about the lust for power that led to the death and displacement of millions and forced countries into war. The abuse of power that Hitler afflicted is put forward objectively so that audiences get to know who he really was. The fact that he hired a bunch of photographers for the photo ops to further his propaganda is an astonishing truth that is the crux of this documentary. ‘Hitler: A Career’ features rare clippings, photographs, and video reels of his speeches, all decisive historical moments. They also forevermore changed the course of Germany and the rest of the world as we know it. You can stream the documentary here.
8. Operation Finale (2018)
‘Operation Finale,’ directed by Chris Weitz, is a compelling Holocaust film that excels in recounting historical events with gripping intensity. Set in 1960, it follows the gripping true story of Israeli intelligence agents tracking down and capturing Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, hiding in Argentina. The film masterfully blends elements of thriller and historical drama, making it a standout addition to the Holocaust genre. Ben Kingsley delivers a remarkable performance as Eichmann, while Oscar Isaac portrays the determined Mossad agent leading the mission. The film’s strength lies in its meticulous portrayal of the moral dilemmas faced by those seeking justice and closure, making it a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant exploration of Holocaust history. You may watch it here.
7. Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis (2021)
‘Camp Confidential’ is a short animated documentary movie that documents the functioning of a top-secret US prisoner of war camp near Washington. The camp, which was kept classified for around five decades, was used by Jewish soldiers to host and interrogate Nazi prisoners of war after World War II. The film provides a fascinating insight into the workings of the camp and even draws up a visual plan of its construction and infrastructure, making this a must-watch for fans who enjoy a sneak peek into history. You may watch ‘Camp Confidential: America’s Secret Nazis’ here.
6. The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)
Based on the eponymous non-fiction novel by Diane Ackerman, ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife‘ recounts the true story of how Jan and Antonina Żabiński rescued numerous Jews and kept them inside the Warsaw Zoo during World War II. The film opens with the aerial bombardment of Warsaw and shows how Dr. Lutz Heck, the head of the Berlin Zoo, visits the Warsaw establishment to take away the prize animals and shoot the others. Once the director of Warsaw Zoo, Dr. Jan Żabiński, returns, he and his wife, Antonina, decide to use their establishment as a safe haven for Jews being prosecuted in concentration camps.
Turning the establishment into a pig farm, the couple then takes the help of local resistance and begins smuggling prisoners out of the Ghetto before hiding them away in the zoo. Offering a raw and authentic insight into the plight of Polish Jewish prisoners, the rest of the film then proceeds to document the couple’s struggles and brushes with death as they bravely face the Nazi onslaught. You can watch it here.
5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
This romantic drama, set in 1946, stars Lily James as Juliet Ashton, an author exchanging letters with a man who lives in Guernsey, an area under German occupation during the war. This interaction piques her interest, so she visits the island to get a better picture of what life was like in those times. She also learns that the fate of one person is still unknown, and so she tries to determine what has happened. The movie looks at the travesty that occurred during the German occupation through the eyes of the protagonist, and this is also why it makes for a compelling watch. You may watch the film here.
4. The Last Days (1998)
An incredible documentary exploring the plight of prisoners during the holocaust, ‘The Last Days,’ paints a vivid picture of the extremities of Nazi Germany through authentic photographs, documents, archival footage, and interviews with holocaust survivors. The documentary speaks about the Nazi’s final solution, wherein the Third Reich used up massive resources to kill or deport thousands of Jews from Hungary in 1944. By then, the Nazis knew that defeat was imminent, and thus, backed into a corner, they began massacring Jews as a last resort. Offering an authentic insight by interviewing five Hungarian Jews who survived Auschwitz and lived through the final solution, the documentary showcases how even the most terrible of evils weren’t able to suppress humanity. Feel free to check out the documentary here.
3. The Adolf Eichmann Trial (2011)
‘The Trial of Adolf Eichmann’ presents a harrowing account of the atrocities Jews faced at the hands of holocaust perpetrator and SS officer Adolf Eichmann and his eventual arrest in 1960 before going on to document the famous 1961 trial, which saw him get sentenced to death. While the trial focuses mainly on his war crimes, the film draws a vivid picture of the proceedings through actual footage and recorded witness testimonies. However, it even goes a step further in chronicling the experiences of people connected to the trial and portraying contrasting perspectives that will haunt the viewer long after the final credits. You can check out the film here.
2. The Resistance Banker (2018)
‘The Resistance Banker’ is set during the Dutch resistance of the ’40s. Essentially a biopic of a Dutch banker named Walraven van Hall, the film begins its story in the German-occupied Netherlands. Van Hall is approached by a member of the resistance seeking funding using his outreach. Along with his brother, Van Hall devises a foolproof network of fake loans to fund guerilla warfare and to help out the ones in exile. The siblings then go ahead with creating fraud guilders worth millions to aid the resistance movement from the Dutch bank right under the nose of the Nazis. Holland is liberated soon after 1945 as Hall goes into hiding to escape his capture. With remarkable performances, this one is a must-see. You can stream the movie here.
1. The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)
‘The Photographer of Mauthausen,’ also known as ‘El fotógrafo de Mauthausen,’ is a Spanish biography drama historical film. Based on real events, the feature revolves around Francesc Boix, who is a Spaniard inmate in the Nazi concentration camp of Mauthausen in Austria. He is someone who tries to save the shreds of evidence of the horrors committed inside its walls. It is easily one of the most eye-opening films on this list, and we recommend seeing it for the harrowing story. You can watch ‘The Photographer of Mauthausen’ here.
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