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The Odessa file


You could do a lot of worse things than spend two hours indulging in the ODESSA file. This 1974 production was the second of Frederick Forsyth's trilogy of books that were put onto the big screen in the 70's. Although made in1974 the events meant to be are depicted are supposed to be about 10 years earlier. ODESSA was an organization created by Nazis to help former high profile Germans and members of the SS escape accountability after Germany's defeat in WW II. You would be given false papers, new identities, passports etc and many of them made their way to South America . The most popular destination was Argentina, whose Peronist regime made no secret of it's admiration for Hitler and the Nazi way of thinking. (This only made Argentina's defeat at the hands of the British in the 1982 Falklands war that much more satisfying)! It's a docu/thriller movie lead by actor John Voight who had been elevated to stardom by "Midnight Cowboy" and "Deliverance". He plays Peter Miller a struggling Journalist who was looking to land the big story and is financially supported by his girlfriend Sigi who works at one of Hamburg's nightspots.

After a routine check on a story of a suicide he is given a diary and documents from the deceased who as it turns out was survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. He takes his own life after seeing one of his former tormentors Eduard Roschmann a former camp commandant swanking it up in and exclusive restaurant in Hamburg without a care in the world. What drives him over the top is when he reports this he finds little sympathy from the West German authorities who seem either indifferent and try to fob him off.

After reading an horrific and graphic account of the mans experience at the hands Roschmann, a sickened Muller embarks on his own investigation. He soon discovers the real motives for the ODESSA organization and delves further into this only to the disdain of friends and loved ones who fear for his safety. Soon he also gains the attention of members of the ODESSA organization who don't approve of his meddling. He manages to sneak into a reunion for former soldiers from a crack Panzer division, but unfortunately draws attention to himself. The beating that is handed out as well as an attempt on his life only emboldens him to carry on now knowing he is on to something? He also arouses the attention from members of MOSAD Israels equivalent of the CIA, whose job is to track down former Nazis and dispose of them. After satisfying the Israels that he is not a Nazi, they help him try to infiltrate ODESSA under an alias so he can track down Roschman who by this time he has is own personal score to settle. While reading the former survivors account it appears Roschman may have had something to do with his fathers death who at the time was a decorated soldier in the German army during WWII.

So it's off to the races, can Muller get to Roschmann and find out who else is in ODESSA's secret file before they get to him! You get the impression that this was inspired by the capture of Eichmann and the wish to track down Joseph Mengelie a notorious Nazi physician. It's important that in the 1960's and even 70's many former Germans from WWII were still alive at this time and many of them not only escaped justice but managed to wrangle cushy numbers in business, industry and even in government under new identities. How widespread this really was I'm not sure, I suppose many lower level Nazi party members did manage to start up their careers again although those who committed the real acts were probably better off trying to get out of the country, where I suppose ODESSA came in, a sort of "club south America" for Germans wanting to get away from it all.

The scene in the beer hall during the reunion is a real party piece. Still reveling in nostalgia about the glory days where Germany was feared and respected as they swept all before them, the frenzied gathering is finishes off by singing a rousing rendition of one of the German army's marching songs. In another scene when Muller visits Simon Weisentile (a well known Nazi hunter who made it his life's work to bring them to justice), he tells Muller that money was not a problem for ODESSA. Under the streets of Zurich were paved with gold, presumably gold and other stuff that was looted by the Germans from their Jewish victims, how ironic! Over all not bad movie , Voight was convincing as a German being blond and blue eyed and Maximilian Schell delivers a powerful performance as the arrogant and sadistic butcher Roschmann. It's certainly worth a watch!
Date Added: 04/20/2013 by MaDona
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