History is written by the winners, but in this, his magnum opus, British filmmaker Luke Holland’s aim is the exact opposite. He has collected the testimonies of Germans and Austrians who sided with the Nazis during the Second World War. Some did so out of a strong conviction, others were complacent, or scared. These were not senior officers or political leaders, but ordinary citizens and soldiers.
Holland worked on Final Account for more than a decade, and shortly after completing it he died, aged 71. He spoke with almost 300 people and collected many hundreds of hours of material that is now stored in various archives. The selection from that material making up this film shows the many ways in which people deal with the immense burden of guilt. Only a few of them tackle the subject head-on. Most dismiss it (“We didn’t know”), downplay their role (“We had no choice”), or blankly deny any of it took place.
At no point does Holland seek to provoke confrontation. He simply allows these ordinary people in the twilight of their lives to tell their story. The sedate tone of their outpourings makes them all the more shocking.