Holocaust Stories – The Last Survivors – BBC iPlayer

It’s been three years now since I restricted my TV viewing options by slashing my main entertainment package – Sky TV.  It was one of the moments when you realised you’re paying a small fortune for something which adds very little to you or your families lives.  My kids have long since abandoned any sort of TV stations in preference to watching people yelling and being infantile on YouTube.  My wife I discovered was watching tons of stuff that where actually all on Freeview anyway.  Whereas I spent most of my life away from home trying to earn enough to pay for it although I do enjoy the Premiership football.

This moment was also facilitated by discovering how much I was actually paying for the Sky full package.  Something I’m pretty sure started around £30 a month was now nearer £90 without me actually doing anything.  A huge amount of money wasted on hundreds of TV channels that were available but no-one ever watched.   So I secretly cancelled the account bypassing the family discussion and figured I’d see if anyone noticed – they didn’t.

Most of us live busy lives and as I get older I definitely appreciate watching something of quality.  My TV viewing is now pretty much 100% focused on the Free to Air channels in the UK, primarily the National broadcaster – the BBC.   What’s more through the BBC iPlayer (available anywhere if you use a VPN) allows you to to watch any of their programmes whenever you want, although there they are only archived for a limited period.

There’s loads of choice – here’s today’s most watched programmes for example –

However some of the very best shows and programmes don’t make it into the popular lists but they’re well worth watching.  An example is a documentary called The Last Survivors which I watched last night and is on BBC iPlayer until the end of February 2019.

Picture – From BBC

It tells the story of some of the few remaining survivors of the Holocaust, most of whom have never appeared before the camera before.   It was broadcast to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day which is has been held every year since 2001 on January 27th.   The date was chosen to make the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz/Birkenau.

The Last Survivors

All the remaining survivors of the holocaust were children when they were imprisoned in the death camps.  The programme follows a small group of these people all of whom are in their 80s and 90s , while they tell of their experiences of that time.

The documentary took over a year to complete and you can see the care that has been taken throughout.  Most of the survivors have not really spoken before about their experiences and the trauma and pain is evident in most of their testimonies.  You sense that even now, some of them took some persuading to share their stories on camera.  One survivor Anita Lasker Wallfisch explained that she hadn’t spoke much about the subject as ‘discussion of the holocaust didn’t really fit into normal conversations, and she wanted a normal life’.

You can hardly be surprised, she explains that she was being prepared for the gas chambers when they discovered she was a cellist.  The female orchestra was short of a someone to play the cello, which is how she survived.  A simple conversation saved her, something which most of us haven’t the slightest experience of how we would cope with.  She later addresses the German Parliament, where she received a standing ovation.  A truly impressive person as are all the survivors in this documentary,

It’s poignant, moving and their stories put our own trivial troubles and difficulties into stark perspective.  I’d urge anyone to spend some time watching this documentary, it’s quite long but doesn’t feel so.  You’ll still be thinking about it many days after, their stories are so powerful and the delivery understated.  Even so long after, the pain is tangible in their voices and you have to admire how they’ve managed to live their lives relatively normally after experiencing these horrors.

Grab it while it’s still on BBC iPlayer, for those outside the UK just fire up a VPN like this.


2 thoughts on “Holocaust Stories – The Last Survivors – BBC iPlayer

  1. Wonderful post however I was wanting to know if you could write a little more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.

  2. Caught this on iPlayer too from Poland – a wonderful, sad and heartwarming documentary. I was surprised at how forgiving the people were, gives you hope for the better side of mankind.

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