Norway    2020
Directed by Eirik Svensson
Norwegian w/ English subtitles
120 min


Norway may be the last country that comes to mind when you think of the Holocaust. But as this powerful and immersive drama shows us, it was yet another European country whose Jewish citizens were destroyed by Nazi occupation.   The film recounts the truth-based story of the Braudes, an Oslo family of Lithuanian descent, most of whose members were eventually rounded up and deported to Auschwitz.  Unlike many World War II tales of survival, this one is not a case of triumph over adversity but rather a wrenching look at the faceless, factory-like speed in which an entire population was destroyed. It begins at the start of the war, three years before the edict came down to arrest every Jew in Oslo and takes us to the fateful period in late 1942 when the family is systematically torn apart. The Braude son Charles, a handsome, charismatic boxing champ who marries the lovely gentile Ragnhild, is the nominal main character here and, for much of the time, the story swirls around him. His adult brothers, Harry and Isak and their father Benzel a kindly butcher, are less central, and matriarch Sara, a loving and stalwart seamstress, becomes a memorable presence as she attempts to resist the inevitable. We have all seen many times the railroad trains transporting Europe’s Jews to death camps, but we have never seen transport by cargo ship.  But on November 26, 1942, 529 Norwegian Jews were rounded up in the middle of the night and taken to a dock in Oslo where they were loaded on to a German cargo ship and deported to Auschwitz from where they all died.  The title not only accuses the Norwegians who collaborated with the Nazis but also those who were indifferent to the fate of their Jewish neighbours.