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Labyrinth of Lies (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 123 minutes.

OK for children.

It might be hard to believe now, with all of this so far in the past, but it took a long time for those SS monsters responsible for what happened at Auschwitz to be brought to justice. In fact, according to this truthful movie, it wasn’t until 1958 that someone started to look into what happened a decade and a half prior.

While based on a background of true events, the protagonist, Johann Radman (Alexander Fehling) is a composite of three public prosecutors who went after the Nazis who ran Auschwitz. Prosecutor General Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss, who died on July 13, 2014) and journalist Thomas Gnielka (André Szymski) are real people who did exist and did participate in the events shown.

Radman, a young, inexperienced prosecutor who spends his time in traffic court, is approached by Gnielka with a story and a victim. Radman takes it to Bauer who tells him to proceed, but warns him that he’s getting into a labyrinth and not to “lose his life” in it. But it’s not as easy as it might seem. There is a lot of denial in Germany and lots of people who don’t want to raise ghosts from the past, plus the German political hierarchy is permeated with former Nazis and SS, who obviously don’t want any investigation into what went on at Auschwitz or anybody punished.

While investigating, he comes across the gruesome crimes of Dr. Joseph Mengele, which is covered in a B story.

Even though people now know about Auschwitz and the people who facilitated it, the trials that Radman brings about here are still largely unknown, unlike the Nuremburg trials.

Because this is basically a fictitious story based on true events, it’s not a documentary. But it is fine movie-making and educates the public on an important event in Germany’s history. Says writer/director Giulio Ricciarelle, “This struggle, the pain and the beauty of this struggle – this is the core of this movie.” In German but the subtitles are white and when white on white are difficult to read.