Germany, 1957. Attorney General Fritz Bauer
receives crucial evidence on the whereabouts of
SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. The lieutenant colonel,
responsible for the mass deportation of the Jews, is allegedly
hiding in Buenos Aires.
The significance of Fritz Bauer, attorney general of Hessen, in
the formation of the Auschwitz trials in the 1960s is
indisputable. However, it didn't become known until after he
died how decisive he was in apprehending Eichmann. Now with his
film THE PEOPLE VS. FRITZ BAUER the Grimme award-winner Lars
Kraume (THE COMING DAYS) has drawn a powerful and gripping
portrait of a courageous man and his battle for truth and
justice. Bauer unflinchingly tackled this thorny subject and
didn't shrink from posing uncomfortable questions to the
Original Title: Der Staat gegen Fritz Bauer
Frankfurt am Main in the year 1957: The attorney general in Hessen, Fritz Bauer (Burghart Klaussner), is found unconscious in his bathtub. An almost empty red wine glass and an almost full bottle of sleeping pills are on the rim of the bathtub. A golden opportunity for the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation officer Paul Gebhardt (Jörg Schüttauf) because he sees his chance to get rid of the obnoxious attorney general. He encourages a police officer to dispose of several other sleeping pills in Bauer's apartment in order to give the impression Bauer tried to commit suicide and is no longer fit for his position. Gebhardt indicates to the ambitious senior public prosecutor Ulrich Kreidler (Sebastian Blomberg) that one just has to exert a little more pressure to finally bring about Bauer's downfall.
But one day he receives a vital lead in his search for former SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Adolf Eichmann, who was responsible during the Third Reich for the mass deportation of Jews. A certain Lothar Hermann has written him from Argentina that he has read that Bauer's office is investigating the Eichmann case, and he has reason to believe Adolf Eichmann is living under a false name in Buenos Aires. Because Hermann's daughter Silvia has fallen in love with Eichmann's son Nick.
By means of the request sent to Interpol, Gebhardt at the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation now knows Bauer is following a new lead. He assigns Kreidler to place Bauer under observation – not only to find out who he has his sights set on but also for another reason: Gebhardt shows Kreidler a police report that states while he was in exile in Denmark Bauer apparently had contact with male prostitutes. If he were caught in Germany with a man in such a situation, his career would be over immediately. Because according to Paragraph 175 of the German Civil Code sexual activities between males is illegal.
Meanwhile, Bauer flies to Israel and has a meeting with the director of Mossad, Isser Harel (Tilo Werner), who, however, thinks the Argentine lead is a dead-end. According to the information of the Israeli intelligence services the man who Nick Eichmann calls "father" is not Adolf Eichmann, but rather his step-father: Nick's mother remarried after the war, explains Harel. He adds that Mossad will only continue to pursue the lead to Buenos Aires if Bauer can manage to find a second, independent source who could verify Adolf Eichmann's identity.
Back in Frankfurt Bauer confides in Angermann by showing him the letter from Lothar Hermann; he tells him about his meeting with Mossad, and asks him for assistance in the search for a second source. Angermann doesn't want to commit treason and instead would rather get the Federal Intelligence Service involved. But Bauer is convinced the Federal Intelligence Service won't help them and would most likely warn Eichmann. Because no one in Germany wants to see Eichmann in front of a court – for fear he would name more names during the trial in connection with the "final solution." Angermann asks Bauer to give him time to think the matter over; however, after seeing Fritz Bauer's inspiring appearance on German television in the broadcast "Heute Abend Kellerklub" he decides to help Bauer in his search for a second source. He suggests they contact the journalist Friedrich Morlach (Paulus Manker). They may not be able to rule out that he also doesn't work for the Federal Intelligence Service or for the Stasi, the East German secret police, but at any rate he's a good informant – and above all, he can be bought. After Bauer is willing to take the risk, Angermann secretly meets with Morlach in his VW Beetle and puts him on the trail of Eichmann.
Although Bauer receives a lot of positive reactions to his
television appearance, he also receives almost two dozen
anonymous threatening letters. When he asks the Federal Office
of Criminal Investigation to investigate and find those who
wrote the letters, Gebhardt suggests Bauer could have written
these threatening letters himself. Then out of the blue he
reveals to Bauer they have reliable clues that in the meantime
Adolf Eichmann is living in Kuwait. Bauer, who never mentioned
the name Eichmann to Gebhardt, now worries that his plan has
been found out and Morlach has betrayed him.
But that's not the case at all – in fact, Morlach brings good news with him. He's discovered that a former war correspondent has been conducting interviews for years with Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, because he wants to write Eichmann's memoirs. Morlach has brought one of the interview tapes with him as proof – and indeed, Adolf Eichmann's voice is on the tape. Bauer suspects Eichmann is working in Buenos Aires for Mercedes. In order to check this out he drives to the Mercedes-Benz company headquarters in Stuttgart, where he storms into the personnel department and into the office of Herr Schneider, a former commander of a SS task force. He confronts him with the files of his investigation and in so doing he uses blackmail to get the information that Eichmann is working under the alias Ricardo Klement in the Mercedes branch office in Argentina.
September 15, 2018