This program is generously sponsored by Valente Wealth Management. Lou Valente
THE PEOPLE VS FRITZ BAUER
Our closing film and an audience favorite in last year’s WJFF was Germany’s Labyrinth of Lies, telling the story of a young prosecutor who pushed one of the very first German trials of Nazi war criminals in 1957. This year we are able to follow up on that historical moment with an award-winning film – even more historically accurate — about his boss, the senior State’s Attorney who inspired him and pushed the reluctant German judiciary to uncover what would be embarrassing to the Bonn government and to “the people” still unwilling to face the shameful truth of general complicity in the Third Reich. Bauer was a Jewish lawyer who was interned in a German concentration camp in the 1930s before escaping to Denmark, and on his return to Germany, has made it his life’s work to bring Nazism’s worst offenders to trail in German courts. (We must remember that we are seeing this film seventy years after the events portrayed.) He receives crucial evidence that SS-Colonel Adolf Eichmann, responsible for the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews, is hiding in Buenos Aires. Bauer has been trying to take crimes of the Third Reich to court ever since his return from Danish exile, but with no success because of the fierce German determination to repress its sinister past. Having lost trust in the German justice system, Bauer contacts the Israeli secret service Mossad, and, by doing so, commits a treasonable act. Karl Angermann, the hero of Labyrinth of Lies, also appears in this film in a plot line involving gay life and his relationship to a cross-dressing nightclub singer. Ultimately, however, their right-wing enemies would uncover more of their own complicity by pursuing either of them than by keeping it all quiet. Bauer was never recognized as a hero, but Eichmann was captured in Argentina and tried in Israeli courts in Jerusalem.
Germany, 2015, German with English subtitles, 105 minutes