|Name:||“Labyrinth of Lies”|
|Director, writer:||Giulio Ricciarelli|
|When and how viewed:||Netlix DVD|
|Rating||R (language: German)|
|Companies:||Sony Pictures Classics, Universal International,|
The German drama “Labyrinth of Lies” (“Im Labyrinth des Schweigens”), directed by Giulio Ricciarelli, and written with Elisabeth Bartel, shows how the pre-unification Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) got into the game of prosecuting “ordinary people” who had turned out to be complicit Nazi War criminals, after the Nuremberg trials.
The narrative is seen through a 28-year-old prosecutor, and handsome and perfect “Aryan” Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling), who has attracted attention of a reporter for prosecuting ordinary traffic and misdemeanor cases vigorously. He has at the same time wanted go to after a teacher who had been part of the SS and isn’t supposed to be allowed to teach, but authorities look the other way. The reporter starts educating him on Auschwitz, which in 1958 still few Germans really understood. He tries to learn about it at a public library, and finds that it will take eight weeks to get a book on the topic. That’s how slow information flow could be four decades before the Internet (remember interlibrary loans?)
Gradually Radmann’s boss Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss – Bauer is the subject also of “The People v. Fritz Bauer”)) becomes more supportive, and Radmann becomes involved in the search for Josef Mengele and eventually Adolf Eichmann. Along the way, at the film’s exact middle, he gets seduced by a seamstress. Marlene (Frederike Becht). That leads him to a personal crisis, the discovery that his own father had been active with the Nazis. The film eventually ends with start of a trial of hundreds of former Auschwitz workers.
The film waterskiis over the question of whether ordinary citizens should be prosecuted for crimes they are ordered to commit by their leadership.
My own first visit to “West Germany” happened in the summer of 1972, when I arrived in Frankfurt. The train to Hamburg came within sight distance of the East German border. In those days, people stayed in hostels without private bathrooms when traveling. I revisited in 1999, and visited Berlin and Dresden.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Frankfurt skyline by Eli Beckman, CCSA International 4.0.
(Posted: Friday, September 30, 2016 at 11:15 AM EDT)