The film reconstructs and retells the story of an unsung hero: the story of a Viennese electronics retailer with a small shop in the 20th district of Vienna, who, as an ordinary sergeant, saved hundreds of Jews from extermination in occupied Lithuania in 1941/42.
The film reconstructs and retells the story of an unsung hero: the story of a Viennese electronics retailer with a small shop in the 20th district of Vienna, who, as an ordinary sergeant, saved hundreds of Jews from extermination in occupied Lithuania in 1941/42. He protected a Jewish woman from assault as early as March 1938. In occupied Vilnius, Anton Schmid succeeded in requisitioning Jews for ostensibly urgent work, providing them with false papers, and transporting them out of the Vilnius ghetto with Wehrmacht trucks. Anton Schmid paid for his commitment to humanity with his life.
About the Director
Martin Betz (b. 1968) lives and works as a writer and filmmaker in Vienna. He has a Master Degree in Script Writing and Dramaturgy from the Film Academy in Vienna where he also held lessons as a lecturer.
Since 2004, documentary films have been at the centre of Betz’s work. He is the author of a number of historical documentary dramas and directed various films focusing on nature, arts, society and sensitive issues. He regularly works for broadcasters like ORF, Arte, ZDF, BR etc. His last major productions were a two-part series about Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Ottoman Empire, and a documentary on Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Bernardis, who was involved in the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler. He has also completed an international two-part documentary about the Great Wall of China and an international co-production about the Italian freedom fighter Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The film focuses on a historical period that is of great significance in Holocaust research. Several historians see the massacres in Lithuania as the earliest occurrence of what would become known as the “Final Solution”. Although this did not become official policy until the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the events in Lithuania immediately following the German occupation foreshadowed what was to come.
His sense of humanity and his own dignity drived Anton Schmid to rescue around 250 Jews from the Vilna Ghetto between November 1941 and January 1942.
Hannah Arendt memorably described Anton Schmid’s actions as a “burst of light” at the Eichmann trial in 1961, and as the film draws to a close this light will be celebrated. Even today, more than 80 years later, Schmid’s actions are a glowing example of humanity in a world in which millions of people are still fleeing from persecution.
pre tv Gesellschaft fuer Film- und Videoproduktion m.b.H.
Leopold Altenburg (Anton Schmid), Henrietta Rauth (Luisa Emaitisaite), Christoph Radakovits
René Schuh, Nir Alon