The Truth Shall Make Us Free: Inside the Neo-Nazi Network | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Truth Shall Make Us Free: Inside the Neo-Nazi Network


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In 1990 a Swedish documentary team headed by German investigative journalist Michael Schmidt began to track the rising neo-Nazi movement in Schmidt's newly reunified country. The findings they released two years later offer a scary and sobering look at history threatening to repeat itself. Taking its title from the neo-Nazi slogan that echoes the old Nazi exhortation "work will make you free," their hour-long cautionary tale has the tone of a horror movie, complete with creepy, apocalyptic music. (It's in German, with subtitles.) The filmmakers uncover fanatic Nazi sympathies everywhere in the reunions of war veterans in France and Munich and in the clubby meetings of teenagers watching wartime propaganda footage. They also make it clear that revisionist history is finding believers: interviews with former SS officer Thies Christophersen and with a British publisher of anti-Semitic literature along with footage of British "historian" David Irving, cherubic-looking yet impudent skinhead leader Gottfried Kussel, and assorted apostles of xenophobia, nationalism, and racial purity reveal a ready acceptance that the Holocaust was a hoax perpetrated by the Poles. Counterpointing their claims, fortunately, is the quietly sincere eyewitness testimony of a concentration-camp survivor. But most chilling of all is a scene in which a battalion of neophyte Nazis--some of them members of the German military--go through paramilitary exercises in preparation for the civil war they regard as inevitable and necessary. Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Wednesday, June 8, 7:30, 384-5533.

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