The late Claude Lanzmann’s towering documentary film Shoah, an examination of the Nazi extermination of Eastern European Jews, is that rare film both to have defined our understanding of a historical period and to have set a formal model for how to deal with the unthinkable in cinematic terms. Over the eleven years that he was making Shoah, Lanzmann conducted interviews with many witnesses who were not included in the final cut and whose testimony was used as the material for later films focusing on specific aspects of the Holocaust. His last film Four Sisters consists of self-standing interviews with four Eastern European Jewish women who survived the deportation: Ruth Elias, who gave birth in Auschwitz under the supervision of the perverse Doctor Mengele; Ada Lichtman, one of three survivors of a convoy of 7000 Jews to the Sobibór extermination camp; Hanna Marton, one of 1600 “privileged” Jews to have been transported from Bergen-Belsen to Switzerland in view of Palestine. In a time of rising anti-Semitism and generalized outbursts of intolerance, the eyewitness accounts to atrocity in Four Sisters are simply essential viewing, as a way to understand both the past and the present—the film’s great underlying theme is the foundation of Israel—and to arm ourselves for a better future.

Claude Lanzmann

Ruth Elias
Paula Biren
Ada Lichtman
Hannah Marton

French, German, English,
273 min.
France, Israel, 1970
DCP, Blu-Ray

Cohen Media Group