The Decent One | Chicago Reader

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94 minutes · 2014

Letters, diaries, documents, and photographs recovered from the private safe of Heinrich Himmler inform this documentary profile (2014) of the high-ranking Nazi, a key architect of the Holocaust and the German police state. Himmler was an embodiment of what Hannah Arendt famously termed "the banality of evil," and the only thing filmmaker Vanessa Lapa manages to tease out of his and his wife's personal testimony is the standard irony that this prim, narrow-minded monster was also a loving husband and father (except for the mistress he acquired in the late 1930s). Bankrolled in part by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, this Austrian-Israeli coproduction is notable for its source material, which has changed hands many times since U.S. soldiers swiped it from Himmler's home in May 1945, but the movie adds little to our historical or emotional understanding of the Holocaust.

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