Question: Where did all the Nazis go after the war ended? Answer: They just went on with their German lives as if nothing had happened and took public sector jobs!
Set in late-50’s Frankfurt, this historically-based film follows Prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling)’s investigation and prosecution of the crimes at Auschwitz. He eventually brought several Auschwitz SS officers to trial where they were found guilty of murder. Over 200 prisoners held at Auschwitz testified at the trial, which was the most extensive war trial ever held in Germany.
In the late 50’s, the Nuremberg trials have already been completed, but journalist coverage of them in Germany was scant. Most Germans born after 1935 haven’t even heard of Auschwitz, and if they did, they think it was just another prisoner-of-war camp, similar to the ones the Japanese had.
Radmann is bored to tears prosecuting traffic violations, so when a reporter comes to him with a story about a former prison guard at Auschwitz now teaching elementary school (forbidden by German law), he decides to take on the case. With the support of his boss, Attorney General Bauer (Gert Voss), he starts researching Auschwitz, but soon realizes that the German government doesn’t want the public to know the facts. Radmann learns that almost every successful man at that time was in the Nazi party, since, without membership, advancement was impossible.
Radmann becomes obsessed with Auschwitz and desperately wants to capture the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed horrible “medical” experiments on Auschwitz prisoners. The film is slow at times, but co-writer/director Guilio Ricciarelli has written a fine screenplay and the performances by the leads are uniformly good. If this film’s subject matter interests you, I recommend you rent it.