Labyrinth of Lies: Fritz Bauer and the Auschwitz trials

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It may seem odd to recommend a movie on this occasion, but if you are interested in post-war (legal) history, this “smart and well-acted take on a historically significant if little-known story” is a must-see. Labyrinth of Lies (Labyrinth des Schweigens) is a compelling movie about the Frankfurt public prosecutors, led by Fritz Bauer, who brought the atrocities in Auschwitz to trial.

Giulio Ricciarelli, the director, found some powerful and emotional pictures that help him tell a highly complex story. The main protagonist is young Johann Radmann, a fictitious public prosecutor – in real life, Joachim Kügler (1926-2012) and Georg Friedrich Vogel (1926-2007) were the prosecutors driving the investigations. The story is told from his perspective, and explores the resistance within the organization as well as in society at large that he faced. Fritz Bauer is a historic character. played by the great Gert Voss in his last movie; he passed away before the movie opened at the end of last year. As fas as I know, the film is historically (and legally) accurate, including the fact that Fritz Bauer informed Mossad, the Israeli secret service, that Adolf Eichmann could be found in Argentina. This of course led to the first Auschwitz trial in Jerusalem.

The film was shown at the Toronto film festival; there is a version with English sub-titles. The German title translates as “In the Labyrinth of Silence”, which I believe more adequately summarizes the German attitude to Auschwitz the Adenauer area.

Cast: Alexander Fehling, Andre Szymanski, Friederike Becht, Johannes Kirsch, Hansi Jochmann, Johann von Buelow, Robert Hunger-Buehler, Lukas Miko, Gert Voss
Director: Giulio Ricciarelli
Screenplay: Elisabeth Bartel, Giulio Ricciarelli
Producers: Uli Putz, Sabine Lamby, Jakob Claussen

1 Comment

  1. Hate 50% factual movies like this

    >>As fas as I know, the film is historically (and legally) accurate

    Well, hardly, since as you say yourself, half the leading characters are inventions.

    I don’t see why they had to invent the character of Radmann, and the consequently entirely fictious guff about his sweetheart, the journalist and their mileu, etc etc.

    Was there not enough of interest in the lives of Kügler and Vogel to use them. and remain historically accurate? I’m aware that this strategy of using a single fictitious proxy to represent several real life characters is commonplace in Hollywood but it never fails to annoy me. It just seems like laziness. Surely the scriptwriters should work harder to bring insight and depth to the lives of the real life characters, rather than resort to unnecessarily inventing fictious ones.

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