Bye Bye Germany

After World War II, some 7 million displaced persons were placed in 800 resettlement camps operated by the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. Due to bombing, dislocation, political chaos, and starvation, many had no home to return to. Within the American occupation zone, as featured in Bye Bye Germany (Es war einmal in Deutschland in German), interviews of Jewish refugees were conducted to obtain certification that they were eligible for migration to either Palestine or the United States. They then would have to await sponsors before departing. The experience of one group of male German Jews in a Frankfurt camp in 1946 comes to light in the film, in particular David Bermann (played by Moritz Bleibtreu). Bermann persuades several who are living together in the camp to make some money so that they can survive when they arrive in their new home country. As the former operator of a Frankfurt store selling linens, he knows how to import them from Paris, and he trains his colleagues on how to make sales. Some of the film focuses on how they con German purchasers into paying exorbitant prices. But Bermann is not certified to leave because of possible collaboration with Nazis during the war, so he is interviewed about his experience by Special Agent Sara Simon (Antje Traue), a onetime resident of Berlin who left before the Nazi persecution of Jews began. The tale told by Bermann, in short interviews over weeks, appears to be another con job. Meanwhile, filmviewers are exposed to what postwar Germany looked like, including an incident when one of Bermann’s colleagues spots someone on the street who had tortured him. Directed by Sam Garbarski, Jewish humor will provoke laughter during the film, which ends on a sober mood. MH