THE COUNTERFEITERS (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2007)

Yet one more ridiculously inept Oscar winner in the foreign-language division, writer-director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Die Fälscher, from Austria and Germany, is the most objectionable non-documentary related to the Holocaust since Steven Spielberg’s (far worse) Schindler’s List (1993). It is a despicable film.
     It is based on a true event—the largest counterfeiting operation ever, set up by the Germans to dissolve economically the British and the U.S. by generating vast quantities of fake banknotes simulating their currencies. Once the war turns against them, the Germans decide on another use for the forged money: to bankroll what remains of their war effort. A team of death camp inmates, led by Salomon Sorowitsch, the world’s premier forger and counterfeiter, has been entrusted with Operation Bernhard in exchange for their lives and considerable amenities (soft beds, ping-pong table, etc.). The men are so well fed that the camp’s liberators have to be strenuously persuaded not to eradicate them.
     Ruzowitzky’s dull script derives from the book by Adolf Burger, an Operation Bernhard team member. Burger dedicated himself to sabotaging the operation so that the German war effort wouldn’t prosper. Sorowitsch knows what Burger is doing but refuses to “squeal” on him. Meanwhile, Burger confronts Sorowitsch with what the latter is doing: breaking faith with all those inmates whom the Germans are murdering just to prolong his own life. This “moral dilemma” has a contrived place in a schematic context, but it is unconscionable in its implicit objection even to the smallest number of spared Jewish lives. Guilt for surviving the Holocaust? All Jewish survivors feel that anyway; for far too many it has proven an intolerable burden. One does not require the special circumstance of the predicament portrayed in this cold-blooded film for Jewish guilt and recrimination to follow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s