Stalags Film Review
By Kam Williams
Documentary Examines Nazi-Themed Pornography Popularized in Israel in the Sixties
Who would think that Israel would be the birthplace of Nazi-themed pornographic paperbacks laced with lurid tales of buxom blondes in SS uniforms torturing concentration camp prisoners and ? That is exactly what transpired back in the early Sixties, and right around the same time that Adolf Eichmann was being tried in Jerusalem for committing crimes against humanity.
This salacious genre of pocketbooks published in Tel Aviv debuted with "Stalag 13," a title which sold over 800,000 copies. And that initial best seller was soon followed by other increasingly-perverse accounts of sexplicit cruelty which eventually escalated to descriptions of cannibalism and incest.
Released under several pseudonyms such as Mike Longshot, Ralph Butcher and Mike Baden, the stories were rumored to have been published previously overseas in English before being translated into Hebrew. Truth be told, however, they originated in Israel and specifically targeted Jewish readers.
The big surprise was that they found a wide audience, and not just in the dirty old man demographic. Historians believe that they managed to capture the imagination of Israeli society because discussion of the Holocaust had been suppressed due to the survivors' general inability to talk about their horrific experiences.
Consequently, in the absence of authentic autobiographies by real concentration camp victims, these "Stalags" not only filled the void but, worse, were embraced as factual memoirs rather than repudiated as trashy literature. In Israel, the phenomenon only died down when the authors were successfully sued by the government for the distribution of anti-Semitic pornography.
Unfortunately, by then irreversible damage had already been done, as they had so permeated the country's consciousness that some books were apart of the high school curriculum. Furthermore, as revealed by this informative documentary, tour guides of Auschwitz today still quote from the works of one of the repudiated writers to suggest that Jewish women willingly lavished sexual favors on their Nazi captors in order to be spared, when there were no anecdotal reports or official records of any such behavior of this nature.
A chilling expose' which shows how Holocaust internees have been victimized twice, violated again by purveyors of smut who would stoop so low as to fabricate a pack of sadomasochistic lies for a quick buck.
Excellent (4 stars)
In Hebrew with subtitles.
Running time: 63 minutes
Distributor: Film Forum
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