The ‘Gray Zone’ in Cinema: Representations of the Kapo in Israeli Cinema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Following the liberation of the death camps and labor camps and the discovery of the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators, it emerged that among the latter were Jews. Referred to as ‘kapos,’ from the German word Kameradenpolizei, these Jews were forced to cooperate with the Nazi authorities in the camps and ghettos. While the kapos (and members of the Jewish Police) were also persecuted by the Nazis, they also benefited from certain powers and privileges–unlike their fellow Jews. These circumstances place them in a morally complex category within Holocaust narratives, their representation wavering between being seen as victim and as perpetrator. This paper explores the representation of the kapo figure in Israeli feature and documentary films, particularly the kapo’s ethical and moral characteristics. The research conducted focuses on how the disclosure of kapos’ personal or scripted versions in these films, as mediated by the director, reflects a gradual shift in Israeli public opinion regarding kapos and the role they played in the Holocaust. This article explores three films: two documentaries, Kapo (2000) and The Kozalchik Affair (2015), and one feature film, Kapo in Jerusalem (2015), which is constructed as a documentary and is partially based on the life story of a notorious kapo Eliezer (Acha) Gruenbaum.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Holocaust Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020


  • Al-Aqsa (Second) Intifada (2000–2005)
  • Ethic and moral
  • Israeli feature and documentary films
  • Israeli society and public opinion
  • Kapos in Israel
  • Oslo

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The ‘Gray Zone’ in Cinema: Representations of the Kapo in Israeli Cinema'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this