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‘Shoah: Four Sisters’ Film Review: Claude Lanzmann’s Final Holocaust Documentary Features Improbable Survivors

They aren’t sisters in a familial sense. But Ruth Elias, Ada Lichtman, Hanna Marton, and Paula Biren share a terrible kinship: They are the only people from their respective families to survive the Nazi Holocaust. In “Shoah: Four Sisters,” the latest and last film from director Claude Lanzmann — the man behind the 1985 landmark documentary “Shoah,” who died earlier this year at 92 — they speak directly, and steadily, explaining the various, harrowing routes taken to escape with their lives.

Presented in four discrete, non-chronological sections, “Four Sisters” begins with its longest interview, “The Hippocratic Oath,” in which Ruth Elias describes in exacting detail the many ways she narrowly evaded death, from hiding among girls she suspected would be spared for their looks, to removing her yellow star and posing as a non-Jewish Czech with no papers, to a horrifying encounter with Josef Mengele himself that left her newborn child dead.


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