Kazik and the Kommander’s Car DVD review on Penny Black music Feb 2012

‘Kazik and the Kommander’s Car’, which has been released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Kazik’s escape, is documentary making at its most important. It is a testament to the horrors of the Holocaust, and a part of history that we should never forget. FOR FULL REVIEW PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE

Quietly powerful DVD documentary in which London-based singer-songwriter Katy Carr travels to Poland to present former political prisoner, Kazik Piechowski

Katy Carr: Kazik and the Kommander’s Car

Reviewed By: John Clarkson

Label: White Gloves Films/Deluce Recordings

Format: DVD

In June 1942 twenty-two year old Kazimierz “Kazik” Piechowski, a Polish political prisoner, escaped from the Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of the estimated 1.5 million people that were deported to Auschwitz, 862 attempted to escape, and of those only 144 succeeded.

Kazik and three other prisoners did so by stealing Nazi uniforms and guns from a storeroom, and the car of Auschwitz’s then commander, Rudolf Hoss, from the garage in which it was kept. They had no documents or passes, and, as they drove up to about the final camp exit, they found that its barrier was down. Kazik opened the car door, displayed the SS insignia on his stolen uniform, and shouted threats and obscenities in German at the guards on the duty. The barrier immediately lifted, and the prisoners made their escape in the commander’s car to eventual safety.

In 2009 Katy Carr, a young London-based singer-songwriter of Polish roots, travelled to Gdansk where the now nonagenarian Kazik lives to present and play to him her song, ‘Kommander’s Car’. It tells of the last five seconds of the escape and the final do-or-die moments at the barriers before Kazik and his friends made their getaway.

‘Kazik and the Kommander’s Car’ is a twenty-five minute documentary that chronicles that meeting.

Directed by Hannah Lovell, whom is a backing singer in Carr’s band as well as a film maker, the film opens with a series of illustrations drawn by artist Galen Wainwright that depict the four prisoners’ break for freedom. What shines through though is the dramatic understatement and quiet power of this film.

After the opening credits roll up against a backdrop of footage shot from a speeding car along the Polish country lanes that Kazik and his comrades fled down nearly seventy years before, Carr and Lovell drop to shadows in the background, wisely letting Kazik take centre stage. He shows Carr a memorial in a local park to those who died in the Holocaust, and some of his own drawings of Auschwitz’s evils. He talks about why it was because he was an Eagle scout rather than a Jew, then one of the pillars of the Polish community, that he was incarcerated in Auschwitz, and finally he is played Carr’s song which shifts this seemingly unflappable, dignified old man to tears. It is both humbling and also immensely moving to watch.

The DVD is accompanied by both the music video for ‘Kommander’s Car’, and over ninety minutes of extras which provide further background facts about Kazik’s life and expand upon the themes of Lovell and Carr’s film.

‘Kazik and the Kommander’s Car’, which has been released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Kazik’s escape, is documentary making at its most important. It is a testament to the horrors of the Holocaust, and a part of history that we should never forget.

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