While Joseph Goebbels infamously declared Berlin "free of Jews" in 1943, 1,700 managed to survive in the Nazi capital through the end of WWII. The Invisibles traces the stories of four young people who learned to hide in plain sight.
Berlin, February 1943: The NS regime declares the Reich's capital "free of Jews." At this point in time, 7000 Jews have succeeded in going underground. Almost 1700 will survive the horrors of the war in Berlin. The Invisibles tells the stories of four of these contemporary witnesses. Hanni Lévy, who has just turned 17, has lost both of her parents. Thanks to her dyed, blonde hair, she is practically invisible to her pursuers, and strolls along the Ku'damm to pass the time away. Cioma Schönhaus has also gone underground and leads an adventurous life that consists of buying a sailboat, dining in Berlin's best restaurants, and becoming a forger of passports, through which he saves the lives of dozens of other Jews. And while Eugen Friede joins a resistance group that distributes anti government leaflets, Ruth Arndt and a friend dream about life in America during the daytime; at night, she pretends to be a war widow and serves black-market gourmet foods in the apartment of an NS officer. ...
Josef Goebbels declared Berlin Berlin Judenfrein, cleared of Jews in the fourth year of WWII. And yet 1700 or perhaps more remained, went under ground and survived, thanks to native intelligence and the good Germans who protected them as best as they could.
Director Claus Raefle's camera follows four survivors, some alive at the time of production. With a savvy crosscutting of newsreels of the early 40s Berlin, recreation of life clandestinely in the open and interviews with the survivors add a depth of understanding and immediacy of Hitler's race war against German Jews. The narrative is gripping and grim, but uncompromisingly forthright. Time has hardly softened the film's import, for today we see in the media horror stories of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, Yemen, Sudan and sorry to say Israel in the Palestinian occupied territories. We saw in Rwanda and Kosovo., Iraq and Syria, Libya... The novel Gore Vidal spoke of historical amnesia, a truth that is ignored, as events 80 years ago, let alone five years ago seem so distant. Forgetfulness or historical amnesia is a heavy legacy for as Santayana famously said, if you learn nothing from history you're fated to repeat it.
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