Friday, October 14, 2011
Good Germans as "Saviors in the Night"
By Skip Sheffield
Not all Germans were Nazis in World War II. Not all Germans were anti-Semitic either. A very small number of Germans risked their lives to save Jews from extermination camps. “Saviors in the Night,” playing at FAU’s Living Room Theaters, is the story of one such family.
“Saviors” is based in the best-selling memoirs of Marga Spiegel, played by Veronica Ferres in this Franco-German movie by Ludi Boeken.
Veronica Ferres is a delicately beautiful, blond, blue-eyed woman who like the woman she portrays, does not come across as the stereotypical “Jewish type.”
This was probably key to her survival, for Marga could move amongst the farmers and villagers of Westphalia and blend right in. For her husband Menne (Armin Rohde) it was a different matter. Menne was a horse-trader and looked the part of a Jewish entrepreneur. While Menne was popular and well-liked, his “Jewishness” forced him to go deep into hiding to survive.
The story begins in early 1943, as the Nazis were rounding up the last remaining Jews in Germany for death camps in “the East.” In the middle of the night Marga tells her young daughter Karin “We have to go!” Menne knew the Nazis were approaching, and in desperation he approached a local farmer, Herr Aschoff (Martin Horn) asking if he could take in his wife and daughter.
Aschoff agrees, though his wife (Margarita Broich) is fearful and his daughter Anni (Lia Hoensbroech), a loyal member of the Hitler Youth, is suspicious.
Because of her physical appearance Marga obtains Aryan papers through a ruse and clutches an Iron Cross for protection. The Aschoff family is Roman Catholic, and they take their Christianity seriously.
Marga is forced to disavow her husband and act like a loyal German, but there are many close calls as time wears on, eventually for two full years before the Allied liberation.
Not all of “Saviors” is grim. There are moments of humor and good cheer and even a little romance. In short “Saviors of the Night’ is not just another Holocaust story. It says in the Talmud “He who saves a single life saves the world entire.” This is an extraordinary tale of three lives saved at the risk of an entire community.