Chasing down Auschwitz death camp criminals by Richard Jones

A Look at  Labyrinth Of Lieslanr (M)…

IT’S 1958 in Frankfurt, Germany, and idealistic 28-year-old public prosecutor Johann Radmann is busy rounding up traffic offenders.

His whole world is turned on its head when a journalist acquaintance tells him of the experience of a Jewish artist friend, an anecdote which starts Radmann on a vastly different career path.

It turns out Jewish painter Simon has recognised teacher Charles Schulz in the grounds of a primary school.

During a physical meltdown in his studio Simon tells writer Thomas Gnielka (Andre Szymanski) and Radmann that Schulz had been a guard at the notorious Auschwitz death camp.

But what exactly was Auschwitz? Radmann was born in 1930 and his generation has heard virtually nothing of the atrocities perpetrated by the German SS, let alone anything to do with Hitler’s Final Solution.

So he goes digging. Attorney-General Fritz Bauer (Gert Voss, in one of his last roles) is extremely supportive as Radmann starts investigating.

Bauer is of Jewish origins himself and had fled Germany in 1933 to avoid the SS-instigated purges. He tells Radmann that the German judicial system is morally and legally bound to investigate camp workers at Auschwitz, no matter how highly ranked or low on the scale they were.

Bauer places Radmann in charge of the investigations into the concentration camp atrocities. The young investigator visits the US occupation forces archives where he meets Major Parker (Tim Williams).

Eventually after a bit of verbal sparring fluent German speaker Parker grants Radmann access to the vast file vault. With Parker’s assistance the Frankfurt investigator unearths documents on no fewer than 8000 former Auschwitz camp workers.

Even though Gnielka tries to steer him away from his central theme, Radmann becomes fixated in hunting down horror camp medico and experimenter, Dr Josef Mengele.

Gnielka, an interesting character in himself who drives around with a handgun in his glovebox, wants Radmann to focus on more achievable targets.

The young prosecutor has another legal colleague working with him now, along with office manager Schmittchen (Hansi Jochmann). She’s a terrific worker but unable to staunch her tears when concentration camp survivors tell their tales as they’re being interviewed. I don’t think many of us would.

Radmann and Gnielka also meet with a group of Mossad special agents from Israel. These agents were the ones who managed to snatch Adolf Eichmann from his Argentine hidey-hole and Eichmann went on trial in Israel in 1961.

He was eventually hanged.

After a huge paper trail chase Radmann and his team indict 22 former SS members. It was late 1963 and 17 of these criminals were convicted.

Those shown to have killed at Auschwitz, or assisted at the gas chambers, were given life sentences.

Radmann suffers personally, though. He loses the love of his girlfriend and gifted dressmaker Marlene (Friederike Becht) when he tells her her ex-military dad, who celebrates drunkenly with mates once a month, was definitely a Nazi.

The even sadder thing is that Radmann’s father was one, too.

And the young prosecutor’s team never brought Dr. Mengele to justice. The extermination camp experimenter died in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1979. He was 67.

It’s believed Mengele suffered a stroke while swimming in the surf and drowned.





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