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Claude Lanzmann
Claude Lanzmann 2014.jpg
Lanzmann in 2014
Born (1925-11-27)27 November 1925
Paris, France
Died 5 July 2018(2018-07-05) (aged 92)
Paris, France
Occupation Filmmaker
Years active 1970–2018
Known for Shoah (1985)
Judith Magre
(m. 1963; div. 1971)

Angelika Schrobsdorff
(m. 1971, divorced)

Dominique Petithory
(m. 1995)
Partner(s) Simone de Beauvoir (1952–1959)
Children 2

Claude Lanzmann (French: [lanzman]; 27 November 1925 – 5 July 2018) was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Early life

Lanzmann was born on 27 November 1925 in Paris, France, the son of Paulette (née Grobermann) and Armand Lanzmann. His family was Jewish, and had immigrated to France from Eastern Europe. He was the brother of writer Jacques Lanzmann. Lanzmann attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal [fr] in Clermont-Ferrand. While his family disguised their identity and went into hiding during World War II, he joined the French resistance at the age of 17, along with his father and brother, and fought in Auvergne. Lanzmann opposed the French war in Algeria and signed the 1960 antiwar petition Manifesto of the 121.


Lanzmann was the chief editor of the journal Les Temps Modernes, founded by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and lecturer at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. In 2009 he published his memoirs under the title Le lièvre de Patagonie ("The Patagonian Hare").


Lanzmann's most renowned work, Shoah (1985), is a nine-and-a-half-hour oral history of the Holocaust. Shoah is made without the use of any historical footage, and uses only first-person testimony from perpetrators and victims, and contemporary footage of Holocaust-related sites. Interviewees include the Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski and the American Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg. When the film was released, the director also published the complete text, including in English translation, with introductions by Lanzmann and Simone de Beauvoir.

Lanzmann 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.

On 4 July 2018, his last work, Les Quatre Soeurs (Shoah: Four Sisters) was released, featuring testimonials from four Holocaust survivors not included in his Shoah. Lanzmann died the following day.

Personal life

From 1952 to 1959, he lived with Simone de Beauvoir. In 1963 he married French actress Judith Magre. They divorced in 1971, and he later married Angelika Schrobsdorff, a German-Jewish writer. He divorced a second time, and was the father of Angélique Lanzmann and Félix Lanzmann. Claude Lanzmann died on 5 July 2018 at his Paris home, after having been ill for several days. He was 92.


Selected works


  • Pourquoi Israël (1973)
  • Shoah (1985)
  • Tsahal (1994)
  • A Visitor from the Living [fr] (1997)
  • Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m. (2001)
  • Lights and Shadows (2008)
  • The Karski Report (2010)
  • The Last of the Unjust (2013) about Benjamin Murmelstein, Elder of Theresienstadt
  • Napalm (2017)
  • Shoah: Four Sisters (2017)

As subject

  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (2015) a documentary about Lanzmann, directed by Adam Benzine


  • Shoah: An Oral History of the Holocaust : The Complete Text of the Film. Pantheon Books, New York 1985, ISBN: 978-0-394-55142-5
  • The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir (translated by Frank Wynne). London: Atlantic Books, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-84887-360-5 ; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2012, ISBN: 978-0-374-23004-3
  • La Tombe du divin plongeur. Gallimard, Paris 2012 ISBN: 978-2-070-45677-2

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Claude Lanzmann para niños

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