Holocaust Movie without Concentration Camps
Directed by: Arnon Goldfinger
The film opens as the director and members of his family are gathered in the apartment of his grandmother , Gerda Tuchler, a short while after her death, to clear out the contents. His grandmother lived in the same apartment for 70 years, ever since she and her husband, Kurt, left Nazi Germany in the 1930s and immigrated to Palestine.
It is not long, however, before Goldfinger finds various items in his grandmother’s house that reveal an astonishing chapter in the family’s history – a chapter that had been kept under wraps for decades.
Goldfinger gradually discovers that his grandparents had a close personal relationship with a high Nazi official,Leopold von Mildenstein, head of the SS Office for Jewish Affairs (prior to Adolf Eichmann). Mildenstein traveled to Palestine in the company of the Tuchlers in the 1930s and continued a friendship with the Tuchlers after the war. Eichmann was arrested in 1961, but Von Mildenstein was never prosecuted, his Nazi past unknown even to his children.
After 7 decades, the children are not aware of what went on with their ancestors.
Here is a review.
The film is available at Toronto Public Library
The Flat had its premiere at the Jerusalem Film Festival in July 2011. The film was screened in 35mm and in the review following the screening, film critic Avner Shavit called The Flat “one of the best Israeli documentaries ever made”. He added that “one of the most exciting documents on the Shoah. The audience at the theater yesterday were overwhelmed by the experience”.
Both screenings during the festival were sold out and quite a few critics claimed that The Flat was the best Israeli film at the festival. The film won the prize for best director of a documentary film at the Jerusalem Film Festival, with the jury reasoning: “This is a beautifully composed film about uncomfortable truths and the challenge of confronting them. Mr. Goldfinger undertakes expert research and leads us through his findings in a way that is not only gentle and sensitive, but also compelling and creative”
In The Flat, an understated and meticulously researched doc, the belongings left behind in a Tel Aviv apartment tell an improbable story of the Hitler era. The grandmother of filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger has died at 98, and her family is emptying out her cluttered apartment.
The letters and objects that Gerda Tuchler never threw away are an archipelago of information extending back to the 1930’s. Among the many stories that these objects tell is that of the friendship between Goldfinger’s German-born grandparents (Kurt and Gerda Tuchler) and a German couple, an aristocratic Nazi propagandist and his wife. The friendship began in the early 1930’s and continued long after the war that took millions of Jewish lives
It turns out that Mildenstein, rehabilitated after the war like so many other Nazi officials, was a public relations executive for Coca Cola. In One, Two, Three, Wilder’s satire of Cold War Berlin, James Cagney played a Coca Cola Executive struggling to raise a teenage daughter and market a soft drink in a city torn (Hollywood facre style) between commercial kitsch and communist lockstep. Coke produced a flattering biography for Mildenstein’s 60th birthday, we’re told by a writer for Der Spiegel who investigated the former SS man. Mildenstein seems to have evaded prosecution by stating that he worked for the CIA. The US government never acknowledged this, but he was not prosecuted. Besides the Spiegel coverage in 1966, after Mildenstein’s death, the story was kept relatively quiet.