In between "Roots" and "Winds of War" there was this television miniseries based on a Jewish family during World War II. Made in the late 1970s when you watch it back, while it is still a good watch there are parts that will make you cringe/laugh due to their dated look or bad acting. There are also other films or documentaries that have better illustrated the horrors of what was done to the Jews during this war. What is most interesting about this miniseries is the fact that it introduces us to future stars like James Woods and Meryl Streep.
The Jewish family the Weiss's is each dealing with the horrors of the Nazis their own way. Inga Helms (Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!, The Devil Wears Prada) and Karl Weiss (James Woods – from television's Shark) are married. Inga's family, who are Christians, worry about her having married a Jew.
Despite warnings they received the Weiss family believes themselves to be 'true' Germans and do not flee when they should have. Each of them ends up rounded up and in a concentration camp with only one son surviving.
A subplot tells the tale of Eric Dorf (Michael Moriarty – from television's Law & Order), a kindhearted German who becomes caught up in things and turns into a killing machine for the Nazis. He works for the police arm of the state and somehow becomes one of the biggest proponents of the final solution.
What is excellently done in this television series is how the lack of options and fatigue worked against the Jewish population in Europe. Many gave up because they were tired, starving and could see no way out. How everyone, even their neighbours, ratted them out.
We see the evolution of the atrocities carried out against the Jews starting in the 1930s and continuing to the very last day of the war. All the concentration camps are portrayed.
Though the story is a familiar one the strength of the miniseries is that it presents all the important events of the Holocaust in a condensed form, but does so without it seeming odd. The stories of the two families – the Jewish Weiss's and the German Dorf's are interesting in the way they intersect. An educational and emotional watch.