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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Hitler film to be shown in Israel
Swiss actor Bruno Ganz (l) as Hitler - copyright Constantin Films
The Downfall is told from the point of view of Hitler's secretary
A controversial German film which attempts to humanise Hitler is to be released in Israel.

The Downfall (Der Untergang), which was nominated for an Oscar, is based on eye-witness accounts of the Nazi leader's final days in a Berlin bunker.

An Israeli film distributor decided to show the film after positive feedback at a test screening in Jerusalem.

Nurit Shani said it would be "unfair" to stop viewers from confronting "the painful subject" addressed in the film.

"I know there are still many for whom it will be difficult to see the human side of Hitler portrayed in a film," said Ms Shani, who owns the Israeli cinema chain Lev.

Bruno Ganz (r) with Juliane Koehler, who plays Hitler's wife Eva Braun - copyright Constantin Films
Hitler is portrayed as diabolical, but also as a man with a human side

"But it would have been unfair to prevent a curious and interested audience that is willing to confront the painful subject in its own way from seeing the movie."

Ninety one percent of viewers who saw the film approved its wider release across Israel, home to approximately 280,000 Holocaust survivors. Six million Jews were killed in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.


"I'm not going to avoid it, because we can't ignore it," said Ms Shani. "Furthermore, I'm not a censor. I hate censorship."

The film will open in three Israeli cities on 19 May, two weeks after Israel's annual Holocaust Memorial Day on 5 May.

Ms Shani hopes to eventually screen it at all seven of her cinemas.

Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation, said he hoped the public would "vote with their feet"

"I normally prefer that censorship not be employed in issues like this. I would hope people will vote with their feet and prefer not to see the movie."

'Human' Hitler disturbs Germans
16 Sep 04 |  Europe
Emerging from the Nazi shadow?
19 Jul 04 |  Europe


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