On a recent trip to Amsterdam my friend and I spent time at the Portuguese Synagogue, Jewish History Museum and the Dutch Theatre (holding venue for thousands of Jews, before being sent to various concentration camps); painfully and powerfully connected to WWII, a shameful testimony to genocide, yet positive, because it challenges visitors to reflect and never forget the ultimate example of “man’s inhumanity to man”.
“Walking With the Enemy” is based on a true story of overwhelming courage, bravery, love and attestation to man’s capabilities under horrific circumstances. “Elek Cohen” (pseudonym for Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum) a young Jewish boy working in a radio repair shop in Budapest, rises to heroic status; it is 1944 and the Nazis invade and send all capable bodies to labor camps. Jonas Armstrong as “Elek” gives an exceptional depiction of a joyful, fun- loving man stripped of innocence; forced into the fray, orchestrated by a demonic regime, whose “final solution” is the annihilation of the Jewish people; sealed January 20th, 1942 at the Wannsee Conference outside of Berlin.
Heart -wrenching scenes of “round-ups”, simmer with authenticity; Elek and his friends barely escape hostile neighbors, landing in the “glass house” in Budapest, an isolated Swiss haven, desperately forging papers for Jews with ties to neutral Switzerland. After killing two Nazis they use their uniforms to fearlessly, frighteningly, convincingly save hundreds of Jews. This goes beyond daring, or the triumph, destruction of fear; heroism at the Herculean level.
“Walking With the Enemy” is at times melodramatic, sensational, pedantic, but resoundingly optimistic; pondering civilizations, now defunct, who tried and failed to erase this remarkable people; expulsion, persecution, restrictions, wanderings, they relentlessly rise from the ashes and remain faithful to their covenant.
I actually attended Rosh Hashanna services in that Portuguese synagogue in 1964 while visiting Amsterdam on my Europe on $5 a Day 6 month post college hitchhiking trip!!!
Looking forward to seeing the film.
The History Museum was one of the best curated I have ever visited! Thanks, P.