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Film & History (2002) - "The Truth of a Mad Man": Collective Memory and Representation of the Holocaust in "The Partisans of Vilna" (1986) and the Documentary Genre




Fictional, dramatized, and documentary films have attempted to represent and reconstruct the Holocaust. However, because of the narrative nature of film, movies inherently lead to distortion of the truth. The representations can distort and shape the collective memory of the Holocaust. Josh Waletzky's "The Partisans of Vilna" (1986) is examined as a case study for a documentary approach to the topic of the Holocaust. It focuses on the Fareinitke Parisaner Organizatzie (FPO) and its struggle for resistance in the Vilna ghetto (Vilinius, Lithuania). Rather than construct a satisfying outcome, the film approaches the complexities and dilemmas of resistance faced by the Partisans.