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Claude Lanzmann

Claude Lanzmann

Cohort: 
2012

Claude Lanzmann, born in Bois-Colombes, France on November 27, 1925, is a Paris-based filmmaker, writer and journalist, renowned for his unprecedented 'cinematic history of the Holocaust', the 9 ½ hour documentary film SHOAH (1985). In his work, Claude Lanzmann addresses questions of Jewish identity by turning to topics such as the Holocaust, openly opposing its prevailing commodification by the film industry. Instead, he presents the past and its contradictions as fractured and unresolved, refusing to create works that are easy to digest. During the Second World War, at age eighteen, Claude Lanzmann joined the French communist party and fought against the Nazis. As a preparation for the École Normale Supérieure, he completed a course on philosophy at the Sorbonne. Nevertheless, following his interest in Germany after the war, he studied philosophy at Tübingen University and lectured on French literature and philosophy at the Free University of Berlin. In Berlin, he began his career as a journalist, revealing with his first article the persistence of Nazism in the university system in Germany; he wrote for Le Monde as the first Frenchman who traveled (illegally) through East Germany. This series of articles inspired Jean-Paul Sartre to invite Claude Lanzmann to collaborate with him and Simone de Beauvoir as an editor of their left-wing magazine Les Temps Modernes in 1952, of which Lanzmann is today a director. Claude Lanzmann was awarded his Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy at the European Graduate School EGS in Saas-Fee, Switzerland on June 6, 2004. He was decorated by the French government for resistance efforts during World War II. Claude Lanzmann received the New York Film Critics Circle Award (1985), the Los Angeles Film Critics Award (1985), and the Peabody Award (1987) for Shoah. Other documentary films by Claude Lanzmann are Pourquoi Israel / Why Israel (1973), Tsahal (1994), Un vivant qui passe / A Visitor from the Living (1997), Sobibór, 14 octobre 1943, 16 heures / Sobibor (2001). Claude Lanzmann is the author of The Complete Text of the Acclaimed Holocaust Film SHOAH.