DRAMA; 2hr 1min (German with subtitles)
STARRING: Alexander Fehling, André Szymanski, Friederike Becht, Gert Voss
Feeling the love: Fehling and Becht
Denial is a powerful defence mechanism and the post-Nazi Germany of 1958 is riddled with it. The don't-ask-don't-tell attitude won't fly with Frankfurt junior prosecutor Johann Radmann (Fehling), however, when he learns from rabble-rousing journalist Thomas Gnielka (Szymanski) that a currently employed schoolteacher was once stationed at Auschwitz. With the support of the attorney general (Voss), Johann begins peeling back the putrid scab of crimes committed at the concentration camp.
Johann isn't an overtly emotional man. Yet the infamy he uncovers through interviews with victims and perpetrators is so horrendous it sweeps before it his cool equilibrium, the sanctuary of his relationship (with Becht's seamstress Marlene) and, ultimately, his moral certainty. Pushing through setbacks, evasions, frustrations and daunting mountains of paperwork, he unmasks the protective web that continues to cushion German war criminals, 22 of whom would be exposed in the pioneering Frankfurt Auschwitz trials.
Like Johann's investigative technique, director Giulio Ricciarelli's narrative style leans towards the dryly procedural. But maybe that's the safest tactical way to go. How better to wade into a deluge than step by persevering step?