Brow Beat

Claude Lanzmann, Director of Acclaimed Documentary Shoah, Dies at 92

Claude Lanzmann on a red carpet, wearing a tuxedo and a red scarf
Claude Lanzmann arrives on May 19, 2018 for the closing ceremony and the screening of the film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote at Cannes Film Festival.
Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images

The Associated Press reports that Claude Lanzmann, director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary Shoah, is dead at age 92. French publisher Gallimard, which handled Lanzmann’s autobiography, confirmed to AP that he died on Thursday morning in Paris, though his cause of death was not specified.

Born in 1925 in Paris to a Jewish family, Lanzmann joined the French resistance as a teenager and later fell in with Jean-Paul Sartre’s circle, including having an affair with Simone de Beauvoir. He worked as a journalist and political activist, but his legacy was cemented by his filmmaking career later in life. Most notable was his nine-and-a-half-hour 1985 documentary, Shoah, in which he rejected archival footage in favor of interviewing living witnesses to the Holocaust, including Jewish survivors of German camps, their captors and tormenters, and bystanders from nearby Polish villages.

Shoah was hardly Lanzmann’s only documentary about the Holocaust: In 2013, he released The Last of the Unjust, which posthumously chronicled the experiences of Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein, and just last year, he debuted unused footage from Shoah in a four-part series about female Holocaust survivors.