Love Amidst the Holocaust
By Skip Sheffield
“Closed Season” is set in Germany during World War II, but it is not about the Holocaust. It has a German couple, a young Jewish man and a Nazi officer as main characters, but it is still not about the Holocaust. “Closed Season’ is a very unusual love story; a triangle if you will.
The movie, directed by Franziska Schlotterer, begins in Israel in 1970. A young man (Pepe Trebs) has travelled from Germany to meet the man he thinks might be his biological father.
Albert (Christian Friedel) ignores the young man. Finally the young man’s persistence pays off, and he tells Albert his story as he understands it.
It began in a remote farm in the Black Forest of Germany in 1942. Emma (Brigitte Hobmeier0 and Fritz (Hans-Jochen Wagner) barely subsist. Nevertheless when Albert (Christian Friedel) flees the Nazis and hides out in the woods, they take him in. Fritz could use some help on the farm, he reasons.
Albert is by nature a more sensitive, caring person than Fritz. When Fritz forgets his wife’s birthday, Albert gives him a handmade piece of jewelry to give her to save face.
Emma and Fritz have been married ten years, but they remain childless. Evidently it is Fritz who is infertile. Using his practical German logic, Fritz suggests that Albert have sex with Emma in hopes of making her pregnant and bearing a child.
Neither Emma nor Albert likes the idea, but reluctantly they agree to the scheme.
As you can imagine there are complications. There is no such thing as sex without consequences. The script, by Gwendolyn Bellman and the director, delicately handles the moral issues without passing judgment. There is a Nazi in the story; a young officer named Walter (Thomas Loibl), but he is not a villain. As a matter of fact he knows Emma and Fritz are harboring a Jew, and he turns a blind eye.
Ultimately any story set in Germany during World War II is about the Holocaust. Inevitably the blind hate and treachery of Nazi Germany intrudes into what is essentially a romance of a most different sort. That is what makes “Closed Season’ so fascinating.