Silent Saviours. A film by Christian Frey and Susanne Wittek
The Nazi regime’s rise to power in 1933 brought with it the persecution of Jews living in Germany. First their businesses were attacked through a series of boycotts then they were forced face a constant bout of religious persecution. In an attempt to escape this oppressive system, many fled to France – a revolutionary land known for its protection of human rights.
However, after the Nazi invasion into France in 1940, the Jews living in France were also confronted with a fight for survival. The persecuted were more than ever before, heavily dependent on the kindness of strangers. During this period of persecution many people of the French populous, were ready to risk their lives in order to protect the hunted Jews. They established safe zones by which to help these downtrodden people escape harassment.
This aid surfaced in many shapes and forms - women accompanied orphaned children on their journeys to refugee camps, families helped forged documents for those in flight and some acted as spies while others offered money or carried important messages across the country. Most astounding, however, was their asceticism as masked vigilantes of justice.
It is true that 75% of the Jews in France survived the Holocaust. This film shows the circumstances surrounding their rescue and acknowledge the civilian resistance that produced the many silent saviours.
Documentary, Germany / France, 2016, Gebrueder Beetz Filmproduktion / NDR / Arte, with the support of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah.
TV première on January 24, 2017 on Arte