Between Heaven and Hell by Seelen, Joost
In our time, when some dare to dispute and even deny the historical existence of the Holocaust, Heaven and Hell bears witness to the awful crimes perpetrated against humanity between 1940 and 1945. The film serves to remind us of a painful piece of Dutch and European history and how terribly some humans can treat others.
Camp Vught is now a national monument and an important part of recent Dutch history. It was the only official SS concentration camp outside Germany and its annexed areas. The Nazis built the camp in 1942, and it opened in 1943. For Jewish prisoners, Camp Vught was actually a transit camp from which about 30,000 Jews were dispatched to die in Nazi extermination camps. The camp also held Dutch and Belgium resistance fighters, political prisoners, Gypsies, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Many of these men, women and children died as a result of execution, torture, or the severe conditions. All prisoners performed forced labor in on-site factories that included a Philips installation.
The killing fields of Cambodia and ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and in the Darfur region of Sudan show that genocide can happen ? even today - to people anywhere. So Between Heaven and Hell is also a reminder that ethnic hatred is still alive and that we must all learn to recognize and curb the dark side of our natures (See First Kill). Some of the most horrific episodes of world history have happened - at least in part - because we have been complacent and have not done enough to prevent them. As genocide continues to be practiced, we need to be vigilant. We must learn to treat those who are different with respect and dignity and be willing to confront racism, indifference and prejudice everywhere.