• FTC

The Devil Next Door

Updated: Nov 23

STRONG WARNING: Contains images and descriptions of war crimes

FTC Rating: 5 out of 5


This five-part docuseries takes its audience on a roller coaster ride as it follows the legal battles of John Demjanjuk, a former Ford employee and grandfather living in Cleveland, Ohio, extradited to Israel and put on trial for being the notorious Nazi gas chamber operator, “Ivan the Terrible”. Just when one thinks the truth is in sight, another piece of evidence surfaces, or a compelling argument brought forth. The KGB, holocaust deniers, secret government documents found in a McDonald’s trash, and Nazi scientists are all featured twists and turns in this potentially deadly case of possible mistaken identity.


Strengths:


- Interesting insight into the Cold War and how it affected the lives of Americans

- A plethora of historical footage and pictures

- Excellent (often entertaining) interviews with the prosecutorial and defence attorneys on the case

- Clips of international media coverage presented throughout the docuseries

- Includes the emotional and heartbreaking testimony of Holocaust survivors

- Extensive footage of the televised Israeli trial

- Continues the debate surrounding the value of “expert” testimony


Weaknesses:

- Could have benefited from the inclusion of footage from the trial resulting in Damjanjuk’s extradition from the United States to Israel and the final trial in Germany

- At times filmmakers allow interview subjects to speculate about the motives of certain individuals and these segments are not always rebutted or supported. It does add to the drama but it also detracts from the docuseries’ credibility.


Final Thought:

- An excellent reminder of the horrors which took place during the Holocaust, especially now that the world has seen a rise in extreme right-wing political movements



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