Final Account is a Holocaust documentary film, made over the course of nearly ten years by Jewish filmmaker, Luke Holland (d. 2020). Holland travelled around Germany and Austria, interviewing ex-SS Officers, citizens, and civilian workers that participated in World War II.
When I saw this film appear in the schedule at my local theater, my initial thought was… another Holocaust documentary? However, this one intrigued me because it featured SS Officers. There is some debate as to whether or not these former officers/soldiers should be hunted down and prosecuted, as shown in the Netflix documentary series, The Devil Next Door and Amazon Prime’s Hunters. This documentary may have changed my opinion on all of that.
All of the interviewees were obviously very old since we are around 80 years removed from the events at this point. The majority of the former SS officers did end up seeing themselves as perpetrators and participants in the machine, even if Holland had to repeatedly ask them until they gave an answer.
There were a few of them that denied it happened, and they provided the rationalization for this way of thinking, in that it wouldn’t happen in their Deutschland. There were a few that said they didn’t know. A particular man’s denial was followed immediately by another gentleman, who claimed that it was impossible to not be aware of what was happening.
There were two things that stuck out to me and deeply disturbed me. When the daughter of one of these SS Officers rummaged through her father’s things, finding out that he was a part of the Blood Order, which she had not known before. This same guy was the only one that proudly showed off his metals, still basically claimed to be a Nazi, AND, at the very end, said Hitler was right, he just went about the ‘Jewish Problem’ wrong. Holland did all of the filming and interviewing, so this old guy was saying this to someone whose grandparents were exterminated in a camp. The second thing was when a former officer went to the residence where the ‘Final Solution’ was planned, and he spoke to students, who had their faces blurred out. The conversation was very tense, and one of the students went after this guy for not being proud of what he’d done. An argument ensued, and the old guy pretty much told the kid to go on camera and to say it straight to Holland’s face.
So, the documentary did achieve its main goal, to document these peoples’ stories. It also was completely disturbing. The guilt and shame were palpable for most of the participants, and perhaps, that’s punishment enough in the end.
I did purposefully not identify or look up these peoples’ names, because I don’t think they should be. The runtime was 1.5 hours, and that was about all I could have taken of the subject matter. If you’re a history nerd, who likes to hear from all sides, it provides a different viewpoint.
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.