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The Counterfeiters (English Subtitled) 2007

This is the true story of Salmon Sorowitsch, a counterfeiter. At the end of WW2 the Nazis wanted to flood enemy economies with dud banknotes. At one camp printers, bankers and craftsmen had a choice - cooperate and they'd be first class prisoners.

Starring:
Karl Markovics, August Diehl
Runtime:
1 hour, 34 minutes

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Format: DVD
Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) is a professional criminal, a master counterfeiter and a Jew. He winds up in a brutal Nazi labor camp because of all three. Sally also is a survivor. He's not idealistic about Judaism, he knows how prisons work and how to survive. His goal is simple: Do whatever it takes to stay alive and try to use every bit of guile and opportunism he has to get more food and to escape the work designed to kill the inmates. He winds up being jeered as a Jew but painting heroic portraits of SS officers and their families.

One night you might say his luck changes. He's transported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and encounters Sturmbannfuhrer Freidrich Herzog (Devid Striesow), the man who arrested him. Now Herzog is in charge of Operation Bernhard, a top-secret project endorsed by Himmler: Find a way to counterfeit British pounds that are so perfect they won't be detected. These counterfeits will be used by the Nazis to flood Britain and destroy its economy. Sorowitsch and a group of Jewish prisoners -- skilled typographers, printers, artists, paper experts -- are taken to a top-secret, walled section of Sachsenhausen and put to work. If they succeed, they live, for a while. If they fail, they die. They succeed so well with the pound that the Nazis decide to use the stuff to buy their own war needs. But now the prisoners also have the task of counterfeiting American $100 bills. Same deal: Succeed, live; fail, die. One prisoner, Adolph Burger (August Diehl), says he will sabotage the project by deliberately showing it down. It makes for a tense moral dilemma. Burger is prepared to be shot. He's also prepared to take the others with him. The others, naturally enough, don't agree.
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By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 26 July 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"The Counterfeiters" is an excellent German language film set in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in the latter stages of World War Two. Karl Markovics plays a Jewish counterfeiter who ,together with other Jews from a printing background, are forced by the Nazis to forge English pound notes and dollar bills to help finance the Nazi's increasingly desperate war efforts. The strengths of this Oscar winning film are it's realistic characterisation and superb acting especially that of the mercurial Markovics.The brutality and inhumanity of the Nazis treatment of the Jews is vividly conveyed as is the survivalism of the Jewish prisoners. Definitely one of the best foreign language films that I have seen for some time.As good as "The Lives of Others".
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Format: DVD
I thought this was a really gripping film and one that raised more complex ethical questions than is usual in this context.
The story centres on two central characters who are part of a group of prisoners in a concentration camp chosen by the Nazis to carry out a counterfeiting operation which could go far to aiding the Nazi war effort.
Burger is an idealistic communist, willing to sabotage the operation and sacrifice his life for his principles, unfortunately this would also mean sacrificing the lives of the others in the group. 'Solly' on the other hand is a criminal, a master counterfeiter whose pragmatism has ensured his survival throughout the war and before. He walks a tightrope between self preservation and honour towards his fellow inmates. He does not have the black and white outlook of Burger and sees partial coersion with the Nazis as the best way to preserve his life and the lives of the other prisoners in his group. He is a complex and interesting character suberbly played by Markovics. In fact all the acting in this film is excellent. Overall the film manages to operate both as a tense, involving drama and one that raises an interesting debate about what would be 'the right thing to do' in such harrowing circumstances. Highly recommended.
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Format: DVD
The New Germany and Austria by extension have been in the process, these past several years, of divesting themselves of National Guilt in regards to the atrocities of World War 2: "Sophie Scholl," "Downfall" and also the superb "Lives of Others" (though set in post WWII East Berlin, it reeks of submission and totalitarianism) speak to the redemptive qualities of confession and penance.
And now we have "The Counterfeiters," the story of Solomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Russian-born Jew who spends his life forging documents thereby attaining the reputation of a master counterfeiter. Ultimately he is arrested and sent to a Camp at which he is given the assignment of forging the British Pound note for The Third Reich. This is 1945 and the disastrous German War effort is in dire need of cash to carry on its war effort.
"Counterfeiters" is all about survival and to what means we, as human beings will do to comply in order to live: anything pretty much sums it up and anything pretty much is the reality of our collective desire to live despite the cicumstances.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky is walking a slippery slope here as the counterfeiting was done in the Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen and the technicians involved were almost all Jews, "The Counterfeiters" raises some provocative moral dilemmas.
Also, the Sorowitsch of Markovics is no paragon of honor. Instead he is a squirrelly, only thinking for himself, con man. He's happy to do what the Nazi's ask of him in order to get the perks of his "exalted position" in Sachsenhausen: clean clothes, good food, soft bedding, and weekly hot showers.
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