December 28, 2012 -- “The Flat” is an intriguing movie about a man who discovers some huge surprises with major implications when he starts digging through the stuff left behind in his grandparent's apartment in Tel Aviv after his grandmother's death.
Arnon Goldfinger (yep, same as in the James Bond villain) was helping his mother, Hannah, clear out the flat of his grandparents, Kurt and Gerda Tuchler when he made a strange discovery, a stash of virulently anti-Semetic newspapers. Kurt and Gerda Tuchler were Jews who had moved to Palestine from Germany in the 1930s, before World War II. Why would they keep Nazi newspapers? Trying to find the answer to that question led Arnon on a very strange journey into history.
Arnon soon found the connection to the newspapers, which advocated Jews leaving Germany to live in Palestine, the ancient Jewish homeland in the Middle East. The Tuchlers had followed the advice in those newspapers and had moved to Palestine, escaping the Nazi death camps. They had also made friends with one of the main advocates of the relocation of Jews from Germany to Palestine, Leopold von Mildenstein.
Mildenstein traveled to Palestein in the 1930s with the Tuchlers and the two families became friends before the war. That is not unusual. What is unusual is that they remained friends after the war, despite the fact that Mildenstein was a high-ranking officer in the SS. In fact, it was Mildenstein who recruited Adolph Eichmann into the SS Office of Jewish Affairs. After the war, Mildenstein had a comfortable life, serving as a spokesman for the Coca Cola company, until his name was mentioned by Eichmann in the Nurremburg war crimes trials.
Neither Arnon, nor his mother were aware of the relationship between the Tuchlers and the Mildensteins. What is even stranger was that neither one of them knew the fate of Arnon's great grandmother during World War II. The Tuchlers tried to persuade her to leave Germany, but she refused. What is even stranger is that Edda Milz von Mildenstein, the daughter of the late Leopold von Mildenstein, knew what happened to Arnon's great grandmother, Sussanne Lehmann, before he did.
Arnon contacted Edda Milz von Mildenstein and was frankly surprised she even knew the name Tuchler, but she recalled the Tuchlers visiting the Mildenstein home in Germany after the war. The Tuchlers made frequent visits to Germany. Arnon noted that visiting the Tuchlers in their apartment in Tel Aviv was like a visit to Germany. The flat was filled with books and mementoes from Germany.
The story of the Milensteins and the Tuchlers is one of denial. Both Edda Milz von Mildenstein and Hannah Goldfinger are in denial about their parents and what they did. Hannah is also in denial about what happened to her own grandmother in the war. As one of the women interviewed in the film put it, the second generation wanted to put all that behind them, but the third generation, represented by Arnon, want to find out what really happened. The truth, in this case at least, is stranger than fiction. This film rates an A.
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