It’s not often that you hear “comedy” and “Holocaust” in the same sentence. But “Bye Bye Germany,” directed by Sam Garbarski, is indeed a comedy of sorts.
Moritz Bleibtreu as dapper David Bermann is full of wit and charm in this tale of a band of Jewish refugees in a U.S.-run displaced persons camp in 1946.
Bermann is a conniver who has devised a plan to sell overpriced linens to the guilt-ridden German housewives in the region around Frankfurt. The scheme serves as a backdrop to an unfolding story of how Bermann survived the war as a “comic to the commandant” while being held in a concentration camp.
A hint of romance is thrown in as beautiful American intelligence officer Sara Simon, played by Antje Traue, digs into Bermann’s questionable past. The flashbacks to the war that her interrogation uncovers are heart-wrenching and hilarious — and almost unbelievable.
Could he really have been a court jester for Hitler? Simon is determined to discover the truth.
But what ties the film together is the small group of survivors who make up the sales force for this vagabond venture. As they try to normalize their lives, each one has his own reckoning with the past, sometimes with devastating consequences.
Individually, they are broken men, yet Motek, the jaunty, three-legged dog that has befriended them all, suggests there is hope and a chance for redemption. The goal is to save enough money to leave Germany behind and forget the past.
The result is a beautiful period film done with grace and finesse and more than a bissel (little bit) of humor.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival screenings: Jan. 29, 7:50 p.m., Atlantic Station; Feb. 1, 11 a.m., Hollywood; Feb. 3, 1 p.m., Atlantic Station, and 8:40 p.m., Springs; Feb. 4, 5:45 p.m., Springs