Quantcast i24NEWS - Esteemed French journalist, 'Shoah' director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92

Esteemed French journalist, 'Shoah' director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92

French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann talks about his 9 1/2-hour documentary on the Holocaust after presenting his film in West Berlin, Feb. 19, 1986.
AP Photo/Rainer Klostermeier

Claude Lanzmann, the esteemed French journalist and director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary 'Shoah', died at his Paris home on Thursday at the age of 92.

"Claude Lanzmann died at his home. He had been very, very weak for several days," a spokeswoman for publishing house Gallimard told AFP.

His death was also confirmed by a press officer for his final film, "The Four Sisters", which was released in France just this week.

Lanzmann had never stopped working, regularly presenting films which often took their inspiration from chapters of his own life.

Last year for example he presented at the Cannes film festival "Napalm", about his brief but intense romance with a North Korean nurse in 1958.

But it was the 1985 release of "Shoah" (the French and Hebrew word for Holocaust), considered by many the most haunting film made about the murder of six million Jews during World War II, which propelled him to global acclaim.

Anne-Christine POUJOULAT             (AFP/Archives)

The chronicle took Lanzmann 12 years to make and consists largely of interviews with survivors and witnesses of Nazi death camps in Poland, alongside chilling images of where the horrors occurred.

"If I am unstoppable it's because of the truth, which I believe in profoundly," he said in an interview with AFP last year. "When I look at what I did in my life, I believe that I came to represent the truth, I never played with it."

- Romance with Beauvoir -

Lanzmann was born November 27, 1922 in the Bois-Colombes suburb north of Paris. His Jewish parents immigrated to France from Eastern Europe where they raised Claude, his sister Evelyne, and younger brother Jacques.

His first act of resistance as a Jewish schoolboy in wartime France was to refuse to write an essay in praise of its collaborationist leader Marshal Petain. He later took to the hills to join fighters in central France ambushing German patrols as part of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF), a political youth organization close to the French communist party.

He later taught at the then-newly founded Free University in Berlin after World War II. He played a part in the vibrant postwar intellectual scene in France, becoming secretary to the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre

Lanzmann served as editor of "Les Temps Modernes", the ground-breaking literary review founded by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir after World War II.


Lanzmann was a friend of the philosophers, and famously became involved with De Beauvoir while working as Sartre's secretary. He was 26 and De Beauvoir was 44.

The golden couple of French intellectual life had a famously open relationship, and enjoyed - and endured - a number of similar love triangles.

"We weren't a trio. I had a relationship of my own with Sartre," he said last year when he sold dozens of letters written by Beauvoir to Lanzmann, the only man she ever lived with, to Yale University.

He made his first film, "Israel, Why", in 1972, and then embarked on the filming of "Shoah" during the next 12 years.

"During the 12 years of work on 'Shoah' with enormous difficulties that almost led me to abandon it, one of the things that kept me going was that I thought 'Shoah' would be a film to help liberate the Germans," Lanzmann said when it was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2013.

He later made several other films on the Holocaust, often using material gathered during the production of "Shoah".

(Staff with AFP)


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