Top 10 Holocaust Films

While there is really no way to fully understand the events of the holocaust, these movies and documentaries best illustrate the horrors of one of the greatest tragedies in human history. From heartfelt and tragic fictional depictions, to autobiographical tales and gut wrenching documentaries, it is impossible to not be touched by the horrors of this terrible historic event. Join WatchMojo.com and today we will be counting down our picks for the top 10 most important Holocaust features of all time. Special thanks to our users Maurizio Antonio Borgese and TeeWhy for submitting the idea on our WatchMojo.comsuggest page!
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*Written by Joe Jatcko.

Top 10 Holocaust Films


How do you make a film about such incomprehensible events? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks top 10 most important Holocaust features of all time.

While there is really no way to fully understand the events of the holocaust, these movies and documentaries best illustrate the horrors of one of the greatest tragedies in human history.

#10: “Europa Europa” (1990)


This Golden Globe-winning film is based on the true story of Solomon Perel, a German Jew who hid from the Nazis at a Communist boarding school and then as a member of the Hitler Youth. Perhaps no holocaust movie is able to show so many facets of the war, as Solomon’s surreal journey takes him from Germany, to Occupied Poland, to the Soviet Union, and back – and in each place, he narrowly avoids capture.


#9: “In Darkness” (2011)


While not as famous as the tale of Oskar Schindler, “In Darkness” tells the true story of Leopold Socha, another man who heroically shielded Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. A small-time thief with excellent knowledge of the underground, Socha moves a group of Jews from sewer to sewer to sewer for the duration of the war. This moving story is simply unforgettable, with its harrowing and thrilling story and difficult-to-watch scenes.

#8: “Au Revoir Les Enfants” (1987)


An acclaimed autobiographical film by French director Louis Malle, “Au Revoir les Enfants” tells the story of two young boys who become friends at a boarding school in Nazi-occupied France. The only problem is one of them happens to be a Jew hiding from the Hitler’s forces. While you can imagine what happens next, the film shows how close two people can become, when one of them doesn’t know that society wants him to hate the other.

#7: “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961)


Featuring one of the greatest casts ever assembled, Stanley Kramer’s three-hour fictionalization details the prosecution of members of the Nazi party long after the war ended. Nominated for a total of 11 Oscars, “Judgment at Nuremberg” features passionate speeches by such actors as Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, and Maximilian Schell – who received the Oscar for his work. Intelligent and persuasive, the film is famous as one of the greatest courtroom dramas ever.

#6: “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1959)


Of all the films based on the life of Anne Frank, a young girl whose family was forced into hiding by the Nazis, it is George Stevens’ version that is perhaps most iconic. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and using shots of the actual Dutch house where Frank’s family hid, the film is best known for moving performances by Millie Perkins and Shelley Winters. Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winning three, “The Diary of Anne Frank” brings to life the poignancy of Anne’s plight.

#5: “Life Is Beautiful” (1997)


Both deeply touching and – at times – raucously funny, this movie follows a Jewish Italian father and his family, as they’re sent to a concentration camp during World War II. Effervescent writer and director Roberto Benigni portrays the father of the film, who devises elaborate schemes to protect his son from the horrors of the camp. Though some disapproved of Benigni’s use of humor in a Holocaust setting, the film was a critical and commercial smash that won several Oscars.

#4: “Shoah” (1985)


One of the most ambitious documentaries ever made, “Shoah” took French director Claude Lanzmann over ten years to complete due to his attention to detail, which also led to a runtime of over nine hours. Putting his team in danger, Lanzmann travelled to the sites of concentration camps, interviewed survivors, and even secretly recorded his conversations with former Nazi officials. The result is the most comprehensive and penetrating filmon the holocaust to date, which is considered by many to be a masterpiece.

#3: “The Pianist” (2002)


Of the feature films on our list, Roman Polanski’s 2002 story of a Polish pianist’s struggle to elude the Nazis is perhaps the most engrossing. As Władysław Szpilman, Adrien Brody navigates Warsaw, and the audience witnesses the war-torn city literally crumble around him. Winning three Oscars, including statues for both Brody and Holocaust survivor Polanski, “The Pianist” is the raw survival story of a man who will do whatever he can to stay alive.

#2: “Night and Fog” (1955)


Ten years after the end of WWII, director Alain Resnais and his French film crew returned to visit and observe the remaining Nazi concentration camps, which were so numerous many had yet to be torn down. The filmmakers blended new footage with archival, illustrating the holocaust’s sheer magnitude and impact in terms of buildings and bodies. Oddly enough, it’s the little details like entire warehouses full of empty shoes that are perhaps the most chilling images in this documentary.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

- “The Sorrow and the Pity” (1969)

- “Come and See” (1985)

- “The Grey Zone” (2001)

- “The Counterfeiters” (2007)

- “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” (2008)

#1: “Schindler’s List” (1993)


The film that introduced a new era of discourse on the subject, Steven Spielberg’s unflinching masterpiece tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi businessman who shielded over 1,000 of his Jewish workers from concentration camps. Spielberg’s epic vision trails Polish Jews as they’re evacuated from their homes, and forced into ghettos and eventually concentration camps. Mostly shot in black-and-white to ensure its agelessness, “Schindler’s List” is punctuated by an iconic shot of a single girl in a red coat, which begins Schindler’s transformation from opportunist to hero.

Do you agree with our list? Which Holocaust film best highlighted the horror of its subject matter? For more Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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