The Holocaust is among the events of the modern world that everybody shouldn’t forget, much less dismiss and disregard as the imaginings of Jews and their sympathizers, because of the unspeakable horrors that occurred during the period. For this reason, films like The People vs. Fritz Bauer are welcome, so to speak, because it doesn’t allow the present generation to forget about it.
Based on a true person and his story, Fritz Bauer is a mass of contradictions that makes him an enigma in his own way – principled yet crafty when the situation demands, loyal yet without friends, and driven yet filled with a brooding sadness. He is a fascinating man who alternates between being a take-charge kind of guy and a bumbling person tripping over his own shadow.
Despite these contradictions, however, Bauer was a compelling man whose dogged determination to expose the remaining Nazis in Germany contributed to an increasing awareness of their war crimes and the need for prosecution. Lars Kraume, the film’s director, definitely gave the main character and his fascinating story the dramatic treatment that he deserves. Burghart Klaussner, the multifaceted actor who portrayed Bauer, delivered a masterly performance that gave justice to the depth of the man himself.
Compelling Man on a Mission
Fritz Bauer, a Jewish man born in Germany before World War II, was enjoying a legal career in Germany. But his thriving career was interrupted by the war and by his subsequent imprisonment in a concentration camp in the 1930s. He managed to escape and made his way to Denmark and Sweden before returning to resume his legal career in Germany in the 1940s
But it wasn’t until the 1960s when he was thrust into the national spotlight when he became the chief prosecutor of the Nazi commanders at Auschwitz in a highly publicized public trial. He was also instrumental in the capture and eventual execution of a leading Nazi official by the Israeli authorities, which was no small feat in itself considering the negative attitude to his quest from his own German compatriots.
Why are films showing the Holocausts so important in contemporary society and beyond? To paraphrase Bauer, we should be motivated to know history especially about the horrific chapters of our past like the Holocaust because of the future – we must educate ourselves and the next generations about them so that we will not commit the horrors our ancestors did.
The verdict: Bauer may be a complicated man but watching his biographical film at Harkins is an easy decision to make.