Last weekend my husband and I went to see the movie “The German Doctor”. The film is set in Argentina in the early 1960’s and is based on true events. I am both a film buff and a history buff so the film was right up my alley.
After World War 2 there were many Nazi war criminals that fled to South America to escape prosecution for their crimes against humanity. One of them was Josef Mengele, who had done human experimentation at Auschwitz during the holocaust and was known as the “angel of death”.
In the film an Argentine family is traveling to the Patagonia region of Argentina to reopen a family hotel. As they travel they meet a German doctor who befriends them. Although the father of the family is never really keen on the doctor the mother and daughter do take a liking to him. Once the family reaches their destination it is clear there is something not quite right about the doctor. The daughter was born prematurely and has always been the smallest girl her age. The doctor promises that growth hormones that have been used on cows could help the girl catch up to her peers. Is he trying to help or his he just experimenting on this poor Argentine girl for the sake of experimenting?
What is interesting about the film is seeing the close relationship between Argentina and Germany. I already know about the Nazi’s that escaped there after World War 2 but I hadn’t really thought about the connection during or before the war. That connection becomes obvious early in the film when the mother is talking about how she went to the German school in Patagonia when she was a child. She is looking at some old pictures and in the background is the Nazi flag. It was a shocking image but it made sense. When somebody takes a foreign language class the classroom usually has flags and pictures of countries that speak that language. Why would a German school in Argentina in the 1930s or 1940s be any different? It also made me really understand that there had to already be Nazi sympathizers in Argentina during the Holocaust who would have been willing to help the Nazi’s escape after the war.
The acting is good and I enjoyed the film switching back and forth from Spanish to German. I thought the movie would be an intense thriller but in the end the film was more creepy than scary. Still, it was a good film worth seeing. I think it is important for Americans to understand the history of other parts of the world. The film has gotten a very limited release so if it isn’t in theatre near you be sure to check it out on video.