In April 1944, the least known great escape of WW2 took place. Two Czechoslovaks, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, Slovak Jews, ran away although they knew no one had succeeded in escaping from the Auschwitz death factory before.
They ran because they had a mission: to save the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews who were next in line, and to inform the world. They didn’t understand why nobody did something about the Auschwitz hell.
They spent a year and a half in the camp (part of that time as recorders) so they knew its organization and the number of Jews who had died there. The escapees survived with the help of people willingly risking their lives for them, and three weeks later they were face to face with the head of the Jewish community in Žilina. But they were in for a surprise: no one believed them. Finally, Vrba and Wetzler wrote a 32-page report, which was handed over to the Hungarian Jews. A few weeks later, one copy reached a Vatican representative, and from there it got to the pope, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill and the press. In May, the BBC informed about Auschwitz, in June the New York Times. But another year went by and nothing happened. First transport trains of Hunagrian Jews came and the Allies did nothing to stop them.
The escapees’ story ends here but another begins, one that earned the name “conspiracy of silence”.
Using the escape and the escapees’ three-day interrogation as example, this movie will explain why their report didn’t have the hoped-for impact; the impact we, having the luxury of hindsight and knowing what we know today, would expect.
Historians will also help us examine the story of Vrba and Wetzler as it is being told today to reveal which parts are true and which are dramatic license, distorting the men’s actual roles.