Review: ‘Bye Bye Germany,’ a droll and well-acted look at navigating life after the Holocaust


“Bye Bye Germany” is a deeply felt yet unsentimental, often wry look at a group of Jewish friends — all Nazi-era survivors — who, in 1946 Frankfurt, unite to sell high-end linens to raise the funds to emigrate to America. Not your typical Holocaust-inspired drama.

The antics of these cagey door-to-door peddlers, led by David Bermann (a superb Moritz Bleibtreu), whose family’s once-thriving linen store was seized by the Nazis and now stands in ruins (as does much of the deftly re-created city), provide a droll spine upon which director Sam Garbarski and his co-writer, novelist Michel Bergmann, build a far more stirring, dimensional story.

This involves David’s questioning by attractive American Army investigator, Sara (Antje Traue), who suspects that David, whose parents and brothers perished at Auschwitz, may have been a Nazi collaborator.


These interrogation sessions give way to flashbacks of how the jokey David, while imprisoned in a concentration camp, was plucked by its loathsome commandant (Christian Kmiotek) to serve as a kind of court jester to Adolf Hitler. But David had more than one-liners in mind for der Führer.

Meanwhile, David’s co-salesmen (Mark Ivanir, Tim Seyfi, Anatole Taubman and other fine actors) work through their own traumatic memories of horror, loss and guilt, which play out in an array of moving and authentic ways.


‘Bye Bye Germany’

In German with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Royal Theatre West L.A.; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino



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