Film, Screened Publicly in U.S. for One of the First Times, Tells Stories of Holocaust Survivors’ Efforts to Rebuild Shattered Lives in Post-War Germany

Holocaust Museum LA presents the powerful German documentary, “In the Land of the Perpetrators – Holocaust Survivors in Post-War Germany,” Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the museum. 

When World War II ended in 1945, millions of POWs and slave laborers were able to return home. But for around 50,000 Jews freed from concentration camps, there was nowhere to return — their homes and families were gone. The U.S. Army established Displaced Persons Camps to house these survivors.   

The film features survivors liberated from the town of Landsberg am Lech, near Munich, and housed in the Displaced Persons Camp after the war. Between 1945 and 1950 that camp, one of the largest in Europe, was home to up to 7,000 Jews, a “city within a city.” Life in the camp was marked by the experience of the Holocaust, the search for surviving family members, the need for education and professional skills, and the yearning to leave Germany.  

In the film survivors share their families’ fates and their attempts to establish a normal life in the aftermath of horrific events. Filmmakers also follow a small group of Germans from Landsberg who continue to fight for a memorial site in the town to commemorate Jews that were murdered there by the Nazis. 

The English-language “In the Land of the Perpetrators,” screened publicly for one of the first times in the U.S., is produced by German public broadcasting company Deutsche Welle.  

A panel discussion moderated by Pulitzer Prize-willing author and historian Steven J. Ross will follow the screening. Participants include Holocaust survivors Jakob Bresler and Joe Alexander (who are both in the film), Peter Limbourg (director general of Deutsche Welle) and Hans Pfeifer (the documentary director). 

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