Uncle Bardie’s Movie Spotlight: Au Revoir Les Enfants

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day tomorrow, this week’s Spotlight Movie is Louis Malle’s autobiographical film, “Au Revoir Les Enfants” (Goodbye Children) (1987):

It was January, 1944 when the German soldiers came to Julien Quentin’s Catholic boarding school. A short time later, the soldiers took away three boys, Bonnet, Negus and Dupre. They were Jewish and they died at Auschwitz. Father Jean died in the camp at Mauthasen. He was the principal of the school who had given the boys sanctuary. Then Malle ends with the film by adding, “More than 40 years have passed, but I’ll remember every second of that January morning until the day I die.”

As the boys and the priest are led away, we do not need to see the trains. We’ve seen the boxcars loaded with people as if they were cattle before. We’ve seen the camps with the prisoners starving, their eyes looking at us with hopelessness. We’ve seen the gas chambers. We’ve seen them in photographs and we’ve seen them in films.

We’ve seen the interviews with the survivors. The numbers still on their arms to be taken with them to their graves. They are witnesses to that time when human beings were condemned by other human beings simply because they were Jews.

Six million men, women and children. Six million.

Not only was this a tragedy for Jews. It was a tragedy for Christians as well. Since Mary and Joseph were Jewish, they too would have died in those gas chambers had they lived during that time in Germany or Poland or France. And Jesus would never have been born. That is something that some Christians forget.

Soon all the survivors of that horrible horrible time will be gone. For them, let us remember and not forget the evil. Let us not forget that time when there was no mercy, no compassion, no justice for our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us be reminded that there was a time the world did nothing to stop the trains, to close the camps, to shut down the gas chambers.

Yet let us also remember there were a few, all too few, but a few who resisted the evil that was the Holocaust, lit a candle to light the darkness, and stepped forward to give their lives that others might live. Jesus said it best, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” For these few saw the Jewish people as their friends.

See “Au Revoir Les Enfants” and remember the English statesman Edmund Burke’s words: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

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