‘Walking with the Enemy’ shines light on little-known Holocaust story

In Budapest, Hungary, head of state Regent Miklós Horthy (Ben Kingsley) was trapped between the Russians on the east and the Nazis from Germany on the west. He was forced to join the Axis in 1941. The first massacre of Hungarian Jews occurred in August that year. After a defeat on the Russian front in 1943, Hitler demanded that the regent punish the 800,000 still living in Hungary and insisted that 10,000 Jews be for supplied for slave labor. This is where “Walking with the Enemy” begins.

When the Nazi presence and anti-Semite law increase in Budapest, Jewish radio repair shop owner Jozsef (Simon Kunz) sends home the two young men who work for him, Elek Cohen (Jonas Armstrong) and Ferenc Jacobson (Mark Wells). They obtain forged baptismal certificates from a Catholic priest and urge their families to use them to escape Hungary when they are forced to join the Hungarian Nazi Arrow Cross labor forces.

Meanwhile, Carl Lutz (William Hope) runs the Swiss diplomatic office at the Glass House in Budapest. Supposedly, anyone with a Swiss passport can safely leave Hungary for Switzerland. He was given permission to issue 8,000 passes to individual Jews, but he interpreted this to mean families, so he printed and numbered the passes accordingly.

When Elek and Ferenc escape from the labor forces, they find their way back home and discover their families have been sent away. Elek’s home has been ransacked, and he finds the baptismal certificates taped to the back of a family photo that he saves.

On instinct, Elek and Ferenc start to do anything to save Jewish families and eventually begin to work with Lutz. One evening before all the drama had begun, Elek met a Jewish girl, Hannah (Hannah Tointon). One evening, Nazi officers follow her to where many Jews, including Elek, are hiding. Elek kills them before they can rape Hannah. Later, Elek, who speaks fluent German, and Ferenc dig up the bodies of the Nazi officers and take their uniforms. For months, their fearless impersonation of Nazi officers allows CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING at the National Catholic Reporter.

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