Claude Lanzmann was born to a Jewish family in Paris, France. He is the older brother of Jacques Lanzmann. After the divorce of their parents in 1934, he and his two siblings went to live with their father in Brioude. He attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand before the family went into hiding during the Nazi Occupation of France in World War II. At age 17, he joined the French Resistance and fought in the Auvergne region. After the war, Lanzmann moved to Paris and studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. He wrote for newspapers and magazines such as France-Soir and France Dimanche before becoming the protégé of Jean-Paul Sartre as an editor at Les Temps Modernes. He also became the lover, traveling companion, and confidant of Simone de Beauvoir, with whom he lived from 1952 to 1959. He opposed the French wars in Algeria and Vietnam, and was among the first Western writers to explore Communist East Germany, the USSR, China, and North Korea. He wrote for glossy magazines and interviewed movie stars and celebrities at the height of the French Nouvelle Vague. Eventually, he took on a new career as a documentary filmmaker and a chronicler of the Holocaust, beginning with Pourquoi Israël in 1972. His most renowned work, the landmark film Shoah (1985), is a nine-and-a-half-hour oral history of victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust. His memoir, published in 2009 under the title Le lièvre de Patagonie (The Patagonian Hare), was a bestseller. He has been married three times, and is the father of two children.