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The Forgotten Documentary That Will Leave A Mark On You On Netflix

A good documentary often forces viewers to open their eyes and learn the truth about their world around them, and such is definitely the case with the late-nineties, Academy Award-winning production, "The Last Days."

"The Last Days" — which was directed by James Moll, and had Steven Spielberg as an executive producer – tells the story of five Hungarian Jews who were targeted by Nazis during the final stages of the Holocaust. Though the Nazis were already losing the war by this time, they were so committed to their grotesque hatred of the Jewish people that they continued on with their genocide, deporting 438,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz within a six-week period, as reported by The Guardian. The film speaks with survivors Irene Zisblatt, Bill Basch, Alice Lok Cahana and Renee Fireston, and Tom Lantos, as they recount the horrors they faced in concentration camps.  

"The Last Days" was originally released in 1998, and was previously only available on DVD. Now, this remarkable and important documentary has been remastered and re-released on Netflix, teaching new audiences about an incredibly important part of history — a tragedy which, sadly, remains all-too-relevant to the present day.

The Last Days is a difficult, yet essential, watch

"The Last Days" was produced in part by the USC Shoah Foundation, which was founded to create compelling audio and visual testimony to ensure that the devastating realities of the Holocaust are not forgotten — as well as giving the survivors of this historical atrocity the valuable opportunity to share their stories with the world. 

The Shoah Foundation was founded by Steven Spielberg in 1994, after the response to "Schindler's List," his powerful film about Oskar Schindler's work to rescue Jews from concentration camps. When that Liam Neeson-starring film won the award for Best Picture at the Oscars, Spielberg pleaded in his acceptance speech, asking educators to teach the Holocaust in schools and utilize the voices of survivors (via The Guardian). In an interview with The Guardian, "The Last Days" producer June Beallor shared how "Schindler's List" was a "catalyst" for "The Last Days," explaining that in telling the story of the Holocaust, Spielberg built trust among survivors, who then felt safer and more comfortable opening up about their experiences. 

"Once word got out that the Shoah Foundation existed," shared director James Moll, "the phones were ringing off the hook with survivors wanting to tell their stories."

It's worth noting that while the Holocaust is part of the past, the hatred and bigotry that caused it are just as present today. Recent years have seen a rise in antisemitism and antisemitic hate crimes throughout the United States, including violent attacks on synagogues (as reported by the Anti-Defamation League). With that in mind, it is more important than ever that a new generation of Americans understand the devastating realities of the Holocaust. 

"The Last Days" is a difficult watch, but an essential one, and is now streaming on Netflix.