Credit Seventh Art Releasing
This documentary’s title derives from a story told by one of its interviewees. He’s recounting a time during the Nazi occupation of Poland in which a group of Jews was waiting, in a designated spot, to be led to a new home. But, the interviewee says, “The ghetto did not materialize.” The Nazi soldiers “took them all and put them on trains: destination unknown.”
The destinations turned out to be Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps. The movie, directed by Claire Ferguson, begins with a survivor, Ed Mosberg, putting on his concentration camp uniform. He is now 92; some of the survivors in the film, 12 in all, are younger because they were only children when taken into captivity.
Trailer: ‘Destination Unknown’
Ms. Ferguson’s film does not seem to have a particular organizing principle at first. These survivors do not necessarily know one another. But their stories, intercut with archival footage over a brisk and frequently harrowing 81 minutes, build to a pitch of horror and sadness that eventually allows for a note or two of hope to sound.
One survivor lived because he was protected by a Christian who was imprisoned for political reasons (and ultimately executed). Another tells of a bricklayer who created an effective, albeit cramped, hiding place for his family. “They were angels,” the man says. If not for people like them, “then you would think that there is no humanity at all.”
A few subjects came under the protection of the industrialist Oskar Schindler, but not before suffering the sadistic whims of the Krakow-Plaszow commandant, Amon Goeth. (These figures were later fictionalized in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.”)