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Epstein, O.B. (2016). The Decent One, Director Vanessa Lapa, 2014. Att: New Dir. in Psychother. Relat. Psychoanal., 10(1):49-51.

(2016). Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 10(1):49-51

The Decent One, Director Vanessa Lapa, 2014

Review by:
Orit Badouk Epstein

“In life one must always be decent, outrageous and kind-hearted.”

Heinrich Himmler, 1935 quoted in The Decent One

Some weeks ago on the morning news of BBC Radio 4, (UK), there was an item about a YouTube video that caused a world outcry. In the video, we watch a practice from Russia, known as “baby yoga” where a woman swings, tosses, and spins an infant of only a few weeks old, eventually throwing the baby into a bucket of water. This kind of practice was developed by Dr Igor Charkovsky, who also believes that water boarding the new born will help them have better blood flow and muscular growth, thus maximising their full potential and supposedly allowing them to become early readers, musicians, talkers, and high achievers such as Olympic champions. How this horrifying item links to the review of this documentary will soon be revealed.

The Decent One is a biographical documentary about Heinrich Himmler, one of the chief architects of Hitler's “Final Solution” and the founder of the Schutzstaffel which became known as the SS, a major German paramilitary organisation. The film is based on archive footage and uses the voices of actors to read through dozens of letters and diary entries which are presented chronologically. Vanessa Lapa, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, worked on this documentary for eight years. Her father had purchased the 350 letters, fifty diaries, and memos mostly written by Himmler himself in an auction. This is a rare collection and aside from Goebbels, we do not know of any other senior Nazi officer who left behind so many personal documents.

To a layperson the film does not appear to reveal much about Himmler's psyche; from his diaries we learn a little about the young and oppressed Heinrich who felt that nobody liked him and who suffered from recurrent stomach pains.

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