Although based on the real Frankfurt Auschwitz trials (1963 to 1965), Labyrinth of lies rearranges some of the facts. During that trial 22 defendants were charged under German criminal law for their roles in the Holocaust. The main character is fictitious prosecutor Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling). The writers created Radmann from three of the real prosecutors who worked on the trial. It all starts in 1958 when journalist Thomas Gnielka (André Szymanski) gets Radmann in touch with Jewish concentration camp survivor Simon Kirsch (Johannes Krisch). Simon Kirsch is convinced he has found one of his persecutors now working as a teacher. Radmann’s boss is District Attorney Fritz Bauer who was the real DA in charge of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. Bauer is played by late German actor Gert Voss who died in 2014 at 72. Labyrinth of lies is his last film. German authorities are no help and they refuse to reveal their lists of former SS officers. From an American officer Radmann gets a list of 8,000 names. After hundreds of gruelling interviews with camp survivors, Radmann, his secretary (Hansi Jochmann) and Gnielka have to find the whereabouts of the guilty. With no computers, they have to go through pages and pages of phone books from all over Germany. understandably, not everyone are happy as the trial is bound to dig up secrets and skeletons. At some point the lawyer thinks he might be able to get Dr. Josef Mengele, but with no success. Radmann finds that even in his family and some people very close to him there were SS officers. In fact, the whole country is in denial even twenty-years after the end of the war. Labyrinth of lies is director Giulio Ricciarelli’s first film, and it is interesting because it tells a story that has never been told from this particular angle. But I find it is too conventional and its narrative style too cold to be really compelling. I am happy I saw it, but would not see it a second time.
Labyrinth of lies (Im labyrinth des schweigens)
In German with English subtitles