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The Nazi Officer's Wife

2003 ,    »  -   9 Comments
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Ratings: 4.94/10 from 49 users.
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The Nazi Officer's Wife (2003)Filmmaker Liz Garbus (The Farm: Angola, USA) documents the extraordinary story of Edith Hahn in The Nazi Officer's Wife. Using old newsreel footage, personal photos, and interviews with Hahn, her daughter Angela, and various acquaintances, with narration by Susan Sarandon and Julia Ormond (who reads excerpts from Hahn's autobiography), the film explores how Hahn, a Jewish woman living in Vienna during the Nazi takeover of Austria, survived.

The film begins the tale with Hahn's childhood, including her education, the death of her father, and her college romance with a half-Jewish intellectual. As the Nazis grew in power, and Hahn's sisters fled for Palestine, he insisted that they would be safe in Vienna. Soon, Hahn, a law student, found herself in a slave labor camp. By the time she returned to Vienna, her mother had been sent to a concentration camp in Poland.

Certain to be deported herself, Hahn chose instead to remove the yellow star from her clothing and go into hiding. Finding help from the unlikeliest of sources (including two prominent members of the Nazi party,) Hahn took on a new identity as a young Aryan woman, and left Vienna, traveling to Munich, in the heart of the Third Reich, where she got a job working as a nurse's aide for the Red Cross.

There, visiting a museum, she met a bright and well-spoken Nazi, Werner Vetter, who approached her. Soon, against Hahn's better judgment, the two had started a romance, which eventually led to an unlikely marriage and a child.

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9 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Holly Como

    Well, this would be interesting if we could see it. Sounds more realistic than the black/white stuff we usually get from film makers about the war. So, where is this documentary???

  2. David Brands

    I read the book about two years ago. Edith Hahn has to be among the bravest persons I've ever read about. Try to imagine the daily fear and tension of being a young Jewish woman trying to live a normal life as an Aryan in Nazi Germany. The book reads like a novel but it's a very true story. The book tells even more about life as a German citizen during WW2. Everyone was suspect: Your friendly neighbor or even your own child could turn you in to the Gestapo for the slightest slur against Hitler, the Party and the war effort. I would really like to see the documentary but my advice to others is to find and read the book. It haunts me to this day.

  3. bringmeredwine

    Looked all over for the full video, couldn't find it.
    The book sounds interesting so I'll add it to my list.

  4. bringmeredwine

    Thanks for the info about the book!

  5. sr

    Any chance that "even Nazis" were nice to her because they didn't know she was Jewish?

  6. Henry Boudin

    SF, There were Nazis who knew she was Jewish. So they were taking big risk. A fantastic book. I read a great deal on the Holocaust. This is yet anotherfacet . What an insiration she is. I just finished the book.

  7. Robin Daisley

    If you want to see the film or read the book, but perhaps prefer to do so without a fee, check your local library.

  8. Gorobei

    Reply to "sr": If you read her book or watch interviews with her on YouTube, Edith Hahn-Beer reveals that she told certain people who were Aryans and/or members of the Nazi party that she actually was a Jew but living as though she were purely Aryan. This was a big risk she herself was taking, but it also put her Aryan friends who knew her background at a tremendous risk also because if you, as a Nazi or even just average Aryan/German knew a Jew who was pretending not to be one, and you did not report that person, then you yourself could/would be rounded up, thrown in prison, and carted off to one of the concentration camps. There were a lot of Germans who didn't know she was Jewish, but one of the points of the books and, I presume, the film is that there WERE some Germans/Nazis that she trusted with her secret, and they did not betray her. One of those Germans was the Nazi officer who ended up being her husband, at least for a while. Another one was the German who gave her own original identity papers to Edith Hahn-Beer for her to use to pass as an Aryan. That German then went and lied to the authorities that she had lost her identity papers in the Danube River, and they believed her and issued her replacement documents. This entire story is truly one of the most interesting books/films about people during the Holocaust that I have run across in my 50+ years of reading about the Holocaust, and I highly recommend anyone's looking into it. It bolstered my faith in humankind that there are still decent people in this world. I pray in times of similar stress that I may be one of them.

  9. Debra Cullen Sumas

    This is the most informative and touching book I have ever had the pleasure to read. I feel she will always have a place in my heart.

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