Two women from opposite sides of Hitler’s Third Reich meet in Toronto, years after the Second World War–Mania, orphaned by the regime, and Johanna, possibly the Nazi guard who protected her. Weaving together their stories, this powerful documentary intimately explores their war experiences and witnesses their reunion more than half a century later. (56 min)
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Return to Reichenbach is the first documentary in the body of Holocaust material that simultaneously captures the stories of an everyday Jewish girl and German women under Hitler. It provides a rare opportunity to view history through their eyes–a survivor searching for closure, and a woman who paid a huge price for ideals she supported or was too afraid to fight against.
I’m passionate about breaking stereotypes and exploring unique stories, unusual subjects, and historical or political events that are underrepresented.
When I first heard about the incredible coincidence of Mania hiring Johanna, a German cleaning woman she recognized as the kind guard who had protected her as an orphan in a Nazi camp – I was curious. Was this guard’s choice to protect a Jewish girl a political act of resistance against a murderous regime? A moral awakening from the straightjacket of duty? Or was her decision more personal – did Mania simply remind her of a child she had lost in the war?
Clearly here was a powerful, complex story of life under Hitler from the perspective of two women on opposite sides of his regime. I had to make a film.
WW2 has been detailed extensively in numerous films and documentaries. Except for the usual suspects – such as photographer Leni Reifensstahl, Hitler’s girlfriend Eva Braun or the wives of Goebbels and Goering – most war stories tend to be about men. The role of women in the Third Reich has been mostly overlooked.
RETURN TO REICHENBACH is the first documentary in the body of Holocaust material that simultaneously captures the experiences of a Jewish girl and an everyday German woman during Hitler’s reign. It gives audiences a rare and intimate opportunity to view history through their eyes: a survivor searching for closure over half a century later; and a German woman who either paid a huge price for ideals she supported or was too afraid to rebel against.
Read the Book
In Mania’s Memory by Lisa Birnie