The Grey Zone
The Grey Zone is a 2001 film about the 1944 rebellion of the 12th Sonderkommando at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. These Jewish male prisoners were forced by the Nazis to assist in escorting new arrivals to the gas chambers, processing their corpses and cremating their remains.
- Directed by and based on the play by Tim Blake Nelson.
- [talking to the girl who survived the gas chamber] I used to think so much of myself... What I'd make of my life. We can't know what we're capable of, any of us. How can you know what you'd do to stay alive, until you're really asked? I know this now. For most of us, the answer... is anything. It's so easy to forget who we were before... who we'll never be again. There was this old man, he pushed the carts, and on our first day, when we had to burn our own convoy, his wife was brought up on the elevator. Then his daughter... and then both his grandchildren. I knew him. We were neighbors. And in 20 minutes, his whole family, and all its future, was gone from this earth. Two weeks later, he took pills and was revived. We smothered him with his own pillow, and now I know why. You can kill yourself. That's the only choice. I want them to save you. I want them to save you more than I want anything. I pray to God we save you.
SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt
- I've seen them strike the ones that are slow getting in (the gas chamber). They steal, lie to each other. I never fully despised the Jews until I experienced how easily they could be persuaded to do the work here. To do it so well. And to their own people! They'll be dead by week's end, every soul. And we'll replace them with others no different. Do you know how easy that will be?
- After the revolt, half the ovens remain, and we are carried to them together. I catch fire, quickly. The first part of me rises, in dense smoke, that mingles with the smoke of others. Then there are the bones, which settle in ash, and these are swept up to be carried to the river. And last, bits of our dust, that simply float there, in air, around the working of the new group... These bits of dust are grey. We settle on their shoes, and on their faces, and in their lungs. And they become so used to us, that soon they don't cough, and they don't brush us away. At this point, they are just moving, breathing and moving, like anyone else, still alive in that place. And this is how the work... continues.
- [outside the gas chamber] This process of cleaning and disinfecting is of vital importance to your health! One louse can kill you! Cleanliness brings freedom! The sooner you shower, the sooner you'll be fed and reunited with your families. There'll be a bowl of hot soup waiting for all of you!
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: This isn't our war.
- Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: Not mine.
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Nor mine. I can assure you. But, to allow this all to go to waste...
- Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: I understand your position.
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Clearly you do more than that.
- Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: As you wish.
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Meaning?
- Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: There is no meaning.
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: We're going to be increasing the volume of our research.
- Doctor Miklos Nyiszli: [trembling upon realizing the implication] I shall need more staff.
- SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Josef Mengele: Then you shall have more staff.
- Hoffman:[outside the gas chamber] You're all fine! The quicker you get undressed, the quicker you'll be clean, settled and reunited with your families.
- Man: Filthy liar.
- Hoffman: Remember the number of the hook you hang your clothes on!
- Man: He's a liar! I can't believe it's Jews doing this!
- 'Hesch' Abramowics:[talking about the girl] The gas got to her. Why are you even considering?
- Rosenthal: We don't kill people.
- 'Hesch' Abramowics: We don't? We put them in the rooms. Walk them in and strip them, look them in the face and say it's safe. What the hell is that?
- Rosenthal: It's not...
- 'Hesch' Abramowics: It's not what?
- Rosenthal: It's not pulling the trigger!
- 'Hesch' Abramowics: It's locking them in! You leave the room! Bring them in and leave! Say it's safe, you'll see them when it's over! Who put her inside(the gas chamber)? Now that she made it through, God knows how, you're going to be a hero?
- Rosenthal: Not a hero.
- 'Hesch' Abramowics: Not a hero, not a killer. What are you, Max? It's better we do it than them.