Documentary discoveries


“The Devil Next Door” is one of the documentaries that unpacks the twisted life of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian Nazi who lived in Ohio.

Cati Werbin-Gradel, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Around once every few months, when your teacher announces that your class will be watching a documentary, many students may groan in complaint, uninterested in watching a boring movie that is meant for educational purposes. Yet there are some, like me, who smile in delight because they enjoy the education and entertainment that documentaries have to offer. You can learn a lot by watching documentaries; whether it is a societal issue, specific event or crime, they always lure you in and keep you on your toes. Here are some of my favorite documentaries to watch in your free time, which can all be found on Netflix:   

The Devil Next Door

This five-episode series starts in Cleveland, Ohio during the 1980s and is centered around John Demjanjuk, who is accused of being a guard at the Treblinka death camp in Poland during the Holocaust. Demjanjuk, who was nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” by prisoners in the camp, was allegedly in charge of running the gas chambers at Treblinka and torturing Jewish men, women and children. This docu-series dives into Demjanjuk’s trial in Israel and how it affected  Jews and Holocaust survivors worldwide, as well as Demjanjuk’s Ukrainian Church community. It shows the different perspectives of survivors, reporters, prosecutors, defense attorneys, family members and of the general public, making the show super engaging and full of emotion. This story touched me so much that it had me in tears and the plot twists stirred my mind like a tornado. Everyone should know about this case because of its historical significance, and it is easy to connect to as Jews. Please note that this show can be very graphical as it shows many disturbing images from the horrible events that took place in the Shoah.   

Shawn Mendes: In Wonder 

If you want a more lighthearted and pop-culture filled documentary, watch “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder.” Even if you are not a fan of Shawn Mendes, this movie is great, because it dives into the important topic of facing anxiety and depression in the perspective of a young, world-wide celebrity. Watching “In Wonder” feels like a breath of fresh air solely because the music in the documentary is so calming and the stories behind Mendes’ songs are beautiful. While watching this documentary, you not only learn about Mendes, but about the challenges that artists face whilst being exposed to the public eye for the majority of their career or life. This documentary grasped me so much that I’ve watched it three times, it will likely have the same effect on you.  

Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal

The Murdaugh Murders docu-series is a crime and mystery filled three-episode show that uncovers the murders of Mallory Beach, Stephen Smith, Gloria Satterfeild, as well as Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. All of these deaths took place in South Carolina just a few years between each other, and they all seem to connect back to a very wealthy and well known South Carolina family, the Murdaughs. In this docu-series, multiple family members, friends, reporters and attorneys speak about the different individuals who were murdered and their deaths, in hopes to uncover the truth behind these malicious murders. This documentary does a great job delving into the specifics of the case while keeping the memories of those who were killed alive. I definitely recommend watching to learn about the case and preserve their memories.