Auschwitz wasn’t what Sven, a young German, had in mind when he signed up to do his civil service abroad. For him, Auschwitz is a small town in Poland, a strange language, a concentration camp, all the musty grayness of high-school German history classes. To make matters worse, he’s got to care for an unpleasant old man, Stanislaw Krzeminski, a former inmate who never left the camp and now spends his time either giving contemporary-witness lectures or repairing suitcases. Krzeminski’s world revolves around the suitcases taken from the Jews as they arrived at the concentration camp from all over Europe. Besides having to endure Krzeminski’s haughty, gruff manner, Sven also has to put up with the barely concealed contempt of various locals. Luckily, there’s Ania, a young guide who lets Sven stay at her place... As the weeks go by, Sven begins to discover both Auschwitz and Oswiecim, the place of horror and the Polish town, the memorial to inhumanity and the tourist industry that has sprung up around it. Yet within this push and pull of conflicting sensations grow love for Ania, compassion for Krzeminski, and the troubling, challenging realization about his own role in preserving the memory of this place... In this pleasantly laconic story about a young German who befriends a stubborn and grumpy concentration camp survivor and falls for a Polish interpreter, director Robert Thalheim (‘Netto’ - winner of the Max Ophüls Promotion Award 2005) proves that it is possible to talk about Auschwitz from today’s perspective in an intelligent, emphatic and edifying way.
Partners & financing
produced by 23/5 Filmproduktion GmbH in co-production with ZDF kleines Fernsehspiel in association with Pictorion Pictures / supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German Federal Film Board, Federal German Government Commisioner for Culture and Media / world sales: Bavaria Film International