Labyrinth of Lies

A young German prosecutor in the late 1950s discovers that a former Auschwitz camp guard is teaching in his local elementary school, which is supposed to be illegal.  He decides to prosecute, and quickly runs into a wall of opposition, in his own office.  Germany in that era was well into denialism —  most Germans preferred to believe that Nazis had been a small minority, and virtually all of them were prosecuted at Nuremberg. Why open that can of worms again?  But the young prosecutor finds he has an unexpected ally — the country’s Attorney General, who is himself Jewish, and wants very much to open that can of worms, preferably spearheaded by someone too young to be implicated in the crimes of the Nazi era.

The prosecutor’s single investigation ultimately morphed into a successful class action against several hundred mid-level Nazis, hiding in plain sight in postwar Germany.  More importantly, the testimony of German Jewish survivors forced ordinary Germans to come to terms with their own history — a salutary exercise.

The basic outlines of the story are true, although the personal details of the young prosecutor have been fictionalized to make him more of a German “everyman.”  The Jewish AG, Bauer, was very real, as were his backchannel contacts with Mossad.

Highly recommended.

Advertisements

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s