Eastern Corridor

Ch. 11 The Film That Cost a Career: Eastern Corridor (1966)

A film made at Belarusfilm studio in 1966, Eastern Corridor, captures the all-encompassing horror of the war in Nazi-occupied Belarus. Set in the ghetto, in the Nazi jail, and among the underground fighters, the film presents a complicated, disjointed narrative of heroism and betrayal. Unusual for a Soviet film, we don’t always know who is a hero and who is a traitor. Even more unusual is the film’s direct engagement with the tragic fate of Jews during the war, culminating with its depiction of the execution of ghetto Jews—one of the most powerful scenes not only in this film, but in all of Holocaust cinema. This is the scene you see here.

  1. How are Jewish people portrayed in this scene? What do they look like? What are their actions?
  2. What languages can be heard on the soundtrack? What is their significance in the scene? What other sounds do you hear?
  3. How does this scene compare with earlier Soviet films about the Holocaust, and with international films?
  4. How was the film interpreted by Soviet editors/censors when it was first made in the 1960s? Why did it remain unknown in the Soviet Union and in the West?