Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann

Lanzmann in 2014
Born (1925-11-27) 27 November 1925
Paris, France
Nationality French
Occupation Filmmaker
Years active 1970-present
Spouse(s) Judith Magre (m. 1963; div. 1971)
Angelika Schrobsdorff (m. 1971)
Dominique Petithory (m. 1995)
Children Sara Siegel, Angélique Lanzmann, Félix Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann (French: [lanzman]; born 27 November 1925) is a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Life and work

Lanzmann was born in Paris, to a Jewish family that immigrated to France from Eastern Europe.[1] He is the brother of writer Jacques Lanzmann. He attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand. His family went into hiding during World War II.[2] He joined the French resistance at the age of 17 and fought in the Auvergne.[3] Lanzmann opposed the French war in Algeria and signed the 1960 antiwar petition Manifesto of the 121.[4]

From 1952 to 1959 he lived with Simone de Beauvoir. In 1963 he married French actress Judith Magre. They divorced in 1971, and he next married Angelika Schrobsdorff, a German-Jewish writer.[5] He divorced a second time and married Dominique Petithory in 1995. He is the father of Angélique Lanzmann, born in 1950 and Félix Lanzmann, born in 1993.

Lanzmann's most renowned work, Shoah, is a nine-and-a-half-hour oral history of the Holocaust, broadly considered to be the foremost film on the subject. Shoah is made without the use of any historical footage, and uses only first-person testimony from Jewish, Polish, and German individuals, and contemporary footage of several Holocaust-related sites. Lanzmann persuaded Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski to be a witness in Shoah by calling forth—once again—his historical responsibility. When the film was released, the director also published the complete text, including in English translation, with introductions by Lanzmann and Simone de Beauvoir. It provides multiple keys to the philosophical and linguistic preoccupations of the producers. Through Shoah many viewers were first introduced to the work of Raul Hilberg, an American Holocaust historian.

Lanzmann has disagreed, sometimes angrily, with attempts to understand the why of Hitler, stating that the evil of Hitler cannot or should not be explained and that to do so is immoral and an obscenity.[6]

He is chief editor of the journal Les Temps Modernes, which was founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In 2009, Lanzmann published his memoirs under the title Le lièvre de Patagonie (The Patagonian Hare).

He is currently a lecturer at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[7]

Legacy and honors

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Further reading


  1. "Fuse Feature: A Conversation with Claude Lanzmann about his memoir, "The Patagonian Hare"". The Arts Fuse. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  2. On Campus: "Claude Lanzmann", Columbia University News
  3. Lawrence D. Kritzman, Brian J. Reilly, Malcolm DeBevoise. The Columbia History of Twentieth-Century French Thought Entry "Claude Lanzmann"
  4. Israel's enemies take no prisoners., Tageszeitung, 6 July 2009
  5. "Nothing he hasn't done, nowhere he hasn't been". Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  6. Rosenbaum, Ron (1999). "Claude Lanzmann and the War Against the Question Why". Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-679-43151-9.
  7. Claude Lanzmann Faculty profile at European Graduate School
  8. 'La promotion du 14 juillet de la Légion d'honneur', in Le Figaro, 14/07/2011
  9. "Claude Lanzmann: an extraordinary prize for an extraordinary man". Retrieved 2013-12-16.
  10. "Auszeichnung: Claude Lanzmann erhält den "Welt"-Literaturpreis". Berliner Morgenpost (in German). October 2, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
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