The new movie Walking with the Enemy is based on a true story. I saw it this afternoon and I think it’s well worth seeing.
The main character in the movie is a young Jewish man called Elek Cohen. He works at The Glass House, a former factory in Nazi-occupied Hungary where Swiss papers are manufactured for Jews to give them immunity from deportation. Elek delivers the papers to Jews all over Budapest. Later, he also occasionally dons a Nazi SS officer’s uniform, since it grants him access to places where jeopardized Jews are being held. He uses the cloak of that uniform to free thousands of Jews from Nazi clutches.
I always enjoy stories like this. This particular movie is not a funny one, but it’s always amusing to me in a just-shaking-my-head sort of way whenever I see a tale of someone whose clothes and demeanor create an impression that they are someone completely not who they claim to be. There are so very many people who blind themselves by concentrating only on what someone reveals on the outside and never bother to look below the surface. If they see a man in an officer’s uniform, voila! They automatically think they’re dealing with an officer. The main character of Elek uses that propensity for misperception, plus a commanding voice when necessary, to his distinct advantage in the movie. It’s aided by the fact that the Nazis were sent all over the place in Europe; at one point, when Elek, in Nazi garb, claims to have just “transferred in,” it sounds entirely plausible. At some point, they all did.
This movie is based on a true story, the life of Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum wore a Hungarian Nilasz uniform – of a Hungarian Facist group called the Arrow Cross – as a disguise, by which he had the means, albeit through the visual illusion, of saving his own people from the Nazi tyrants. Rosenbaum is credited with rescuing thousands of Jews.
Attitude is everything, and clothes really can make the man. Bravo, Pinchas!