Michael Verhoeven

Michael Verhoeven

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The Unknown Soldier Review


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In Michael Verhoeven's impassioned documentary The Unknown Soldier, the terrible inhumanity and detestable efficiency of the German genocide industry during World War II is laid bare before the viewer in all its horror. At one moment in the film, Verhoeven's camera rests upon a plaque upon which a quote by Elie Weisel is visible: "For the dead AND the living who must bear witness." And Verhoeven's film, while bearing witness to repressed German view of history, also warns of cultural complacently in the dangerous present.

The film documents the Wehrmacht Exhibition, an exhibit that made its way around German cities from 1999 to 2004 and hit the German societal nerve like a spinal tap, generating massive protests and riots wherever the exhibit played. The Wehrmacht Exhibition's incendiary display featured previously unseen war footage and repressed photographs of German-perpetrated atrocities conducted against civilian populations during World War II. And the controversial aspects of the show cut like a twisted knife. Before this exhibition, the prevailing common German viewpoint of the horrors inflicted upon the innocent victims and scapegoats of the war was that the violence was conducted by the Gestapo and the S.S. But what the exhibition revealed for the first time to the German population was the revelation that it was, in fact, the regular German army soldiers who were the ones who willingly and happily participated in the slaughter.

Continue reading: The Unknown Soldier Review

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