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Total Crap: 6.25%

2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport
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by Chris Parry

"No, you won't see mounds of bodies getting bulldozed, but you will be moved"
5 stars

We all like to think of the western world as better than Nazi Germany. We fool ourseves into thinking that our fathers rode in on white horses and liberated the Jews because it was right and just, but in reality, not a single country in the world wanted to give the Jews of Europe a welcoming handshake. No, not the US, not Canada, or Australia or Britain - nobody wanted them, even though it was clear that if someone didn't, they'd soon be killed. Credit where it's due to the British, for though they wanted no part of millions of German speaking Jew adults, they at least received ten thousand of their children. The journey that carried these children, most of whom would soon be orphaned, to safety was called the Kindertransport. Years later, this documantary talks to hose who made the journey, and took the children in, to open our eyes on a part of our history that is most definitely bittersweet.

Holocaust documentaries are never most people's first choice. They're not exactly the kind of thing you want to take a date to, but if your date has a brain in her or her head and the slightest interest in the world around us, this is certainly a flick worth hunting down.

Oh, I know what you're thinking, "I've seen it all before, the Jews had it rough, but it's over now. It could never happen here." Well, it did happen here. Just as millions were being exterminated in Europe, the Americans were turning their backs. The Canadians actually turned boats of Jews away and had an official policy that Jews were not welcome. The Australians interned them in camps (and still intern refugees to this day). But the Brits at least offered a token hand of support when they allowed children to make the journey across to the UK, if their fare could be paid for, and if a return fare could be guaranteed. Granted, it's hardly a humanitarian act on the scale of Christ himself, but it saves ten thousand children's lives when the rest of the world wouldn't lift a finger for child nor adult, so let's not harp on the negative, eh?

And there was certianly plenty of negative about. From the children who couldn't be placed in foster homes and hus ended up in orphanages, to the children who were used as unpaid servants, to the teenagers who were later rounded up and shipped off as suspected spies, there's precious few of these children who remember the time fondly.

Into The Arms of Strangers talks to those children, now elderly adults, and let's them tell their tales of the journey, of dealing with the relocation, of how they were accepted in a new country, and how they dealt with the knowledge that their parents were, in all probability in death camps as they played in their new homes. It's fairly riveting stuff, and if you can honestly watch it all without rethinking your history knowledge, then I guess you're stronger than I.

Very few documentaries can make me forget about the 'narrative' and just focus on the people and events. As a film reviewer, I watch for the little things and score them off as I watch, but the material in Into the Arms of Strangers is just too compelling to worry about the usual stuff. In short, watch it and learn. It could indeed happen again - here as well as anywhere else.

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originally posted: 09/04/02 09:53:54
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User Comments

8/25/04 Scott Wildman Very educational and worth the look/lesson. 4 stars
9/19/02 Dave Be So Good Isn't a classic. Not top 20 material! 1 stars
9/04/02 Buddha Sad, sad stuff. And there's too many places in the world where this is going on today. 4 stars
4/24/01 Brubie An important film because of its personal warnings that we, the pople should be vigilant. 5 stars
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  15-Sep-2000 (PG)



Directed by
  Mark Jonathan Harris

Written by
  Mark Jonathan Harris

  Judi Dench
  Alexander Gordon

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