July 07, 2003 12:00 PM

A & E (Sun., June 29, 8p.m. ET)

Critic’s Choice

“Human nature is not fixed,” 89-year-old Edith Hahn Beer says at the end of this fascinating documentary, based on her 1999 book about how she survived the Holocaust. Experience has taught her that people can’t be divided neatly into evildoers and decent folk.

Hahn Beer, a Jewish native of Vienna, was aided by a Nazi party member and an SS officer after Hitler’s forces took over Austria. Masquerading as a gentile, she fled to Germany and eventually married a Nazi who knew her true identity. Was he an anti-Semite nonetheless? Did she love him anyway? Was there something shameful about the way she stayed alive? Producer-director Liz Garbus’s film, narrated by Susan Sarandon, asks these questions with compassion, always allowing for human complexity.

BOTTOM LINE: Extraordinary personal history

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