2 or 3 Things I Know About Him
Director/writer: Malte Ludin Documentary; color; 2007 German/English subtitles 85 minutes
This stark German film traces a son’s search for the truth of his father’s World War II record. The result: a low-budget inversion of Flags of Our Fathers that is revealing and unsettling.
The central character is the director’s father, Hanns Ludin, who was Adolf Hitler’s ambassador to Slovakia. In 1947 he was hanged for war crimes, including the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.
Born in 1942, Malte as a child thought his father was a hero. In the 1960s he pivoted 180 degrees. By 1978 he was documenting his mother’s protective yet suggestive memories on film. But he waited until she died to completely unearth the father he barely knew. As Malte’s detective work uncovered documents, photos and sources that confirmed his father’s involvement in Nazi horrors, he grew more determined to make his family confront the past.
Malte Ludin’s movie exposes his family’s raw nerve endings via a series of emotionally charged vignettes that recap the postwar German debate about responsibility. Malte’s mother and, to varying degrees, his older sisters react to his evidence with shopworn defenses: Everyone thought the Jews were just being deported and the camps were just armaments factories, no one asked anything and very few knew the truth, and the like. Most vehement is Barbel, who claims Hanns was among the war’s victims.
A loyal member of the SA from 1931 who survived the 1934 Night of the Long Knives purge and was photographed with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler and Josef Goebbels, Hanns Ludin was more high-level apparatchik than policymaker. But he was no victim. So staunch a Nazi he celebrated the Führer’s birthday on April 20, 1945, he was the devoted manager of the Reich’s bloody programs in Slovakia.
His son’s movie is a sad but fitting testament to his life’s work.
Originally published in the May 2007 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.