The Invisibles


Hitler rounded up most of the Jews in Germany for evacuation to death camps. From 1943, when the Nazis declared Berlin free of all Jews, about 7,000 remained in Berlin, hiding out as best they could, whereas only 1,700 survived by the end of the war. The Invisibles (Die Unsichtbaren), directed by Claus Räfle, focuses on 4 of the 150. Part documentary, the surviving four tell part of their stories from early 1941, while actors re-enact how they operated on the streets and in the homes of Berlin–Ruth Arndt (played by Ruby O. Fee), Eugen Friede (Aaron Alteras), Hanni Lévi (Alice Dwyer), and Cioma Schönhaus (Max Mauff). What is notable is that a variety of Germans help them hide, including Christians, Communists, and members of the Resistance, in particular Werner Sharff (Florian Lucas). In many cases, they are forced to move from one residence to another as the Gestapo gets information about them. In other cases, they are homeless and forced to walk along the streets at night. Events of the war, including bombing of Berlin, are part of the conditions exposed during the film. Aging documentary footage proves additional context. One gets rich by forging passports but ultimately bicycles to Switzerland. Another changes the color of her hair to blonde. The most emotional scene involves a Jewish member of the Soviet army, who demands proof from two survivors, who claim that they are in fact Jewish. The proof emerges when they sing a Jewish song, whereupon the officer hugs them in a scene so touching that tears may flow from the eyes of ordinary filmviewers. Actual Holocaust survivors are likely to attend opening performances of the film in the large cities of the United States, so attendance provides a dual spectacle. The Political Film Society has nominated The Invisibles for best film exposé of 2019 and best film identifying the human rights deficit of Nazi Germany.  MH