A Profoundly Creepy “German Doctor”
By Skip Sheffield
“The German Doctor” is one of the creepiest Holocaust-related films I have ever seen, yet it is not set in Europe or even during World War II.
“The German Doctor" is the infamous Josef Mengele, the malicious Nazi “Angel of Death” who carried out dangerous, painful and often fatal experiments on living human beings in his capacity as SS Officer and chief Nazi medical doctor.
Like many Nazi war criminals, Mengele fled to South America. “The German Doctor,” directed by Lucia Puenzo and based on her novel “Wakolda,” is set in Argentina in 1960.
A stranger approaches a family out in the wilderness of Patagonia and asks if he could follow their car to his destination, as he is unfamiliar with the area.
Eva (Natalia Oreiro), a good-hearted woman who understands German says OK, despite the misgivings of her husband Enzo (Diego Peretti).
The couple has a lovely 12-year-old daughter named Lilith (Florencia Bado), who looks much younger than her age.
“He thought I was a perfect specimen,” says Lilith in the opening voiceover, “except for height.”
The family is bound for a lakeside resort, which they intend to re-open and operate. The German stranger, who calls himself Helmut Gregor, becomes their first paying guest.
Over time Helmut ingratiates himself and becomes uncomfortably close to Lilith, who is ridiculed at school for being a “midget.” Helmut convinces her mother Eva that he can alter Lilith genetically to make her grow larger and stronger.
There are adverse side effects however, and when Eva becomes pregnant with twins (a particular fascination of Mengele’s), events make an even more sinister turn.
The most chilling thing about “The German Doctor” is that Mengele eluded capture by Israel’s Mossad, and went on to live a ripe old age. Now that is truly scary.