The Devil Next Door
2019 | Series/Courtroom Drama | In English and Hebrew with English subtitles | One Season (5 episodes). Each episode is approximately 45 minutes
John Demjanjuk was a Ukrainian who came to the U.S. shortly after the end of World War II. He became an American citizen, was a reliable worker at a Ford plant in Cleveland, was law-abiding, respected by his co-workers, and was a beloved family man. About 30 years later, the U.S. Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had evidence that during the war Demjanjuk was a sadistic, brutal guard at Treblinka, the Nazi concentration camp. He was known as Ivan the Terrible. The U.S. had no grounds to indict Demjanjuk as his crimes were not committed in the U.S. What the U.S. was able to do was revoke his citizenship. He was then extradited to Israel for trial. In the courtroom, witnesses recounted the heart-wrenching stories of what Demjanjuk, the monster, did while he was a Nazi guard at Treblinka. It was the biggest, most notorious trial since Adolf Eichmann. But there were flaws in the case: after 40 years, memories of the witnesses were not always clear; evidence popped up that maybe Ivan the Terrible was killed at the camp during a prisoner uprising; perhaps this was a case of mistaken identity. One question was clear: Either way, this trial was not going to have a happy ending.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
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This saga of multiple legal battles, alive with passion and uncertainty, is filled with proofs leading here, twists leading there, until finally—it’s a long journey to this point—there are facts.That journey never loses an iota of its riveting force. It’s hard to imagine a more rewarding five hours of television.
Staying concise, and hence effective in communicating the emotions of sorrow and horror, THE DEVIL NEXT DOOR keeps you occupied with the mystery from the beginning to the end. In a sense, it works like any other unresolved true-crime drama that demands an answer from you rather than serving it to you on a silver platter. If John was Ivan the Terrible, did he get what he deserved? And if he wasn’t, did he suffer for someone else’s crime? Either way, it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Netflix’s series about John Demjanjuk—accused of being notorious death camp guard Ivan the Terrible—is a sensitive look at a despicable chapter in human history. The filmmakers felt that a sober, traditional approach was the most respectful. Although they used substantial amounts of footage of the witnesses’ testimonies and the appalling newsreel footage that came from the inside of concentration camps, they did so in a way that avoided sensationalism or any sense of viewer manipulation.
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