Sergei Loznitsa positioned his camera among the stream of tourists who visit the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. His static, black-and-white shots closely observe the behavior of the visitors: the couples in summer outfits taking selfies in front of the entrance gate bearing the legend Arbeit macht frei; the woman posing gracefully in front of one of the ovens; the man calmly snacking on nuts as he enters the most abominable section of the death camp. Others are wearing T-shirts bearing slogans such as “Cool Story, Bro” or “Jurassic Park.” An officious guide orders her group around, and they follow her docilely like sheep. None of them will have noticed Loznitsa with his camera, among all the others taking photographs and looking around glassy-eyed. Unaccompanied by any commentary, the images raise a question: now that all experiences of the camps are collective, is it even possible to commemorate the Holocaust in an appropriate way? Has the concentration camp become a spectacle? The title Austerlitz is a reference to W.G. Sebald’s eponymous novel about a Jewish man who as a child refugee was robbed of his name and history.
Sergei Loznitsa for Imperativ Film
Sergei Loznitsa, Jesse Mazuch
Sergei Loznitsa, Danielius Kokanauskis