Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

The Invisibles : the story of Jews who hid from the Nazis in Berlin in WW2


The Invisibles is an intriguing hybrid docudrama that bears witness to the number of German Jews who chose to go into  hiding rather than being captured by the Nazis in WW2.  In 1943 Goebbels the Reich Minister of Propaganda of Germany declared that after all the purges there were no Jews left in Berlin.   He was wrong .  There were some 7000, but as we learn from this film only 1700 survived the war.

Claus Räfle the director and co-writer of this film chose to tell  the story of four of those “invisible” Jews, Cioma Schönhaus, Eugen Friede, Ruth Arndt, and Hanni Lévy, all of whom are interviewed for the film.  Against all odds and at real personal risk to not just themselves but also the Germans who chose to help them, all four managed to hide in Berlin without detection from 1943 to the end of the war. Most of their stories are recreated using actors which make the stories come to live.

Hanni (Alice Dwyer) chose to dye her blonde to look more Aryan but as she spent the days just carefully wandering the streets the sheer loneliness greatly affected her, until she found a friend through the most unusual circumstances. Cioma (Max Mauff) a very talented artist turned his hand to forging documents for himself and others and was rewarded in food rations, but he seemed to be at risk of capture more than the others as because of his activities he  was added to the Nazi’s wanted list.

Ruth (Ruby O. Fee)  spent most of time with her best friend Ellen (Victoria Schulz)  but feeling trapped in their tiny attic room they decided to take a risk by going out in public dressed as war widows.  Their trip to the cinema almost ended in disaster when they were spotted by Stella (Laila Maria Witt) a  jewess turned informer.  They ended up getting jobs as maids for the family of  a top Nazi official who was happy to have his household run well, so turned a blind eye to their ethnicity.

16 year old  Eugen (Aaron Altaras) was  protected by his non-Jewish stepfather who found him a safe space but when that also became non viable  he was sheltered by a Communist family who hated the Nazis.

If is disheartening to see the sheer desperation of them all  caused by the isolation and the constant need to hide out in tiny spaces often in run down buildings, and to be constantly hungry due to the sheer scarcity of food.  None of them knew at the time about what had happened to all of their relatives that had been transported away. The obscene reality wouldn’t hit them until after the war,

As people like these survivors come to the end of their lives it is so crucial that we bear witness to their part in this horrendous history that we are in grave danger of forgetting

Posted by queerguru  at  18:05



Genres:  drama, international

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