‘The Flat’ is a fascinating detective story

 

“The Flat,” an award-winning documentary, follows the story of Israeli documentary filmmaker Arnon Goldfinger, whose 98-year-old grandmother died in Tel Aviv a few years ago, sparking a search to understand who the woman really was.

Along with Goldfinger’s mother, Gerta, his siblings and his cousins, he begins to go through the woman’s flat, especially her papers and photographs.

In the flat, which Goldfinger describes as “Berlin in an apartment,” they discover dozens of pairs of aged evening gloves, dress shoes, documents, books and photographs collected over 70 years. Gerta inspects every document before throwing them away, not interested in old letters and other items. The family fills dozens of trash bags with his grandmother’s things. A reseller takes the furniture and books.

Yet two artifacts surface that capture Goldfinger’s attention. One is a Nazi newspaper from 1934, Der Angriff  (“The Attack,” the worst of Nazi newspapers). The featured story is about an SS officer, Leopold von Mildenstein, who traveled with his wife and a Jewish couple to Palestine. The Jewish couple was Goldfinger’s grandparents, Kurt and Gerta Tuchler. It is astonishing news to Goldfinger, who knew nothing of his grandparents’ past.

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