Son Of Saul

Jeles Laszlo

Hungary, 2015

TEACHER GUIDE

DETAILS

Drama, history, holocaust film

ISSUES

Holocaust, Nazism, Jews, religion, WWII

THE FILM

WWII. Hungarian-Jewish Saul Ausländer is a prisoner at Auschwitz. He, along with several other   men, stays in a different part of the camp, as they are all given the responsibility of taking newcomers to the gas chambers. Those unsuspected newcomers who are left to believe that they are taken to shower before starting work. Saul’s work, also, involves disinfecting the gas chamber after use, going through the personal possessions of the dead looking for valueables, and disposing of the
ashes after the bodies are burned. It is after one of these gassings that Saul sees the body of a boy
whom he believes to be his illegitimate son. Out of circumstance, the Germans want to conduct an autopsy on the body. Almost at any cost, Saul goes on a mission to prevent the autopsy and steal the boy’s body so as to give it a proper Jewish burial. This means that he, also, has to find a rabbi to perform the burial. To accomplish his mission, he needs the assistance of fellow inmates. Meanwhile, he is told that they are trying to smuggle information outside the camp, providing thus evidence of the atrocities going on. An uprising against the captors seems to be underway. Saul has some issues in dealing with other men who see their own task as more important and as incompatible with his. However, the fact that their usefulness to their captors may soon be coming to an end, meaning their own death, alters things.

Historical background

The film’s History Consultant, Dr. Zoltán Vági, wrote that Hungary is still in denial about its former alliance and collaboration with Nazi Germany. Between the 15th of May and the 9th of July 1944, approximately 437,000 Hungarian citizens of Jewish ethnicity were deported. Some 147 trains, transported them to the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The majority was unfit for labor: Elderly and disabled people, women and more than 100,000 children were killed in gas chambers immediately after arriving, while their possessions (incl. gold teeth) were stolen by the Germans. Many more died in the camp over the next few months. The deportation was mainly organized and executed by Hungarian authorities. Hungary set a European ‘record’ by deporting 437,000 Jews to certain death within just eight weeks. The Hungarian gendarmes’ devotion surprised even the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who supervised the operation with 20 officers and a staff of 100, including drivers and cooks.
Source imdb

ACTIVITIES

GENERAL GUIDE

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