Israeli director Amichai Greenberg adopts the thriller form to highlight the Rechnitz massacre in Austria in 1945 and a historian's questions about his Jewish identity.
The Witnesses of Lendsdorf **
from Amichai Greenberg
Israeli movie, 1:35
" This scenario is my struggle to break down the walls of silence ", Claims Amichai Greenberg, director of the thriller The witnesses of Lendsdorf. Son and grandson of Holocaust survivors, he suffered from his father's silence at the mere mention of his life in the camps. Although the story of Yoel, the main character of the film, is pure fiction, this first feature film is inspired by real events: the massacre of Rechnitz, Austria, on the night of March 24 to 25, 1945, and research undertaken after the war to uncover a mass grave.
Yoel, the director's double, confronts his mother's unspoken claims that the Holocaust is a taboo subject. Historian, Orthodox Jew, he investigates the village of Lendsdorf, Austria. This place would have been the seat of a massacre of Jews towards the end of the Second World War. However, to ensure the development of the city, the site is destined to be concreted.
A quest for identity
A real race against the clock then commits: Yoel must prove the existence of the mass grave before the construction begins. But he finds himself faced with the silence of potential witnesses, who fear reprisals. The investigation then takes the form of the thriller to keep the viewer in suspense until the denouement.
This search doubles as a personal drama when Yoel uncovers confidential documents. Among them, the testimony of his mother, survivor of the Shoah: " I am goya ", she says. But the term "goya" refers to that which is not Jewish. A servant in a Jewish house, she found herself helpless in a Nazi camp. Begins then a search for identity for Yoel who culminates when he removes his kippa, looks in the mirror and shaves.
The impact of history on our lives
By this metamorphosis, he faces his new self: a being raised in a Jewish culture but whose roots are not. This inquiry could be criticized for not being historical enough. The director takes liberties in relation to the facts and the scenario focuses more on the evolution of his main character than on the highlighting of the massacre. But Amichai Greenberg acknowledges it himself: " My goal was not to make a film about History, which interests me is the impact of History on our daily lives. "