"Among Farmers – Savior in the Night"
Screenplay Otto Jägersberg, Imo Moszkowociz, Heidrun Schleef
according to the narration "Retter in der Nacht" by Marga Spiegel
Director Ludi Boeken
Production FILMFORM KÖLN GmbH in Coproduction with PANDORAFILM Cologne and ACAJOU FILMS Paris
Shooting date August -October 2008
Shooting location Westfalen
1943. On the day before his deportation to the East, the successful and popular horse dealer, Siegmund Spiegel, from the now "Jew-less" town of Ahlen in Westphalia, carries out his plan to hide with his family at friends" farmhouses.
Though he has lost his rights and property - as all Jews had - and has
been reduced to forced labor, his will to survive is still undaunted after
nine years of Nazi persecution. Against all rational thought, he trusts
these farmers from the Münsterland to stick to their promise, even though
they are well aware that in the eyes of the Nazis, secretively housing a
Jew is a crime punishable by death. In this dire situation, nobody can expect
normal Catholic farmers and their families to take such a risk.
Perhaps that"s exactly why Siegmund Spiegel, called Menne, puts all his
eggs into one basket. He must first convince his smart, young - but reluctant
- wife to go to the Aschoff farm with their little girl Karin and take
shelter with the farmer"s family. His all-consuming concern is to save his
beloved little daughter Karin; only when he can assume she is safe can he
seize the last desperate chance to save his own life. He rides his bicycle
into the familiar, beautiful countryside, trusting his life to people whose
reliability and compassion, he believes, are stronger than their fear.
The impossible became reality.
In her memoir "Saviour in the Night" Marga Spiegel tells how the little family survived in their hiding place. The farmer families Aschoff, Pentrop, Sickmann and Silkenbömer from the Münsterland all helped.
The Film "Among Farmers – Savior in the Night"describes daily life with a sense for the absurd -– including a bit of Westphalian humor -- how the farmers accept their Jewish guests just as they accept everything else that is what it is. But they never forget the danger they"re in during this whole time.
Among the many impressive characters, naive, young Anni Aschoff is especially touching. She admires the elegant Marga Spiegel, finds in her an older friend whose kind would not normally be found among farmers. This doesn"t stop Anni from falling in love with Erich Reimann from Berlin, who in his limited, masculine stubbornness tries to make something for himself out of the Nazi ideology. He also wants to annoy his disabled plumber father, a bullheaded lounge Communist.
Again and again there is the danger of discovery, because people somehow
get wind of the situation but, for various reasons, do not act on their
obligation to inform the authorities. Were there more non-mean-spirited
people among the Germans than originally thought?
If that is the case, it would still not change the fact that the Jewish citizens of Ahlen who were not able to emigrate were murdered.