The Flat


This documentary movie about a real-life story of a German Jewish family after the Holocaust is an example of how real events can be more surprising than any fiction story. The movie (now available on Netflix), is mostly in English. Subtitles are added when the conversation drifts to Hebrew or German. The drama develops slowly, yet it is powerful enough to keep the viewer interested as the story is unfold.

I followed with interest the detective-like work of the film maker. I thought I heard almost everything about the Holocaust. This movie showed me that I didn’t even scratch the surface. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in this period and is looking to learn something new in a way that it is realistic, yet, not as depressing as most Holocaust stories tend to be.

The movie:

“At age 98, director Goldfinger’s grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared for decades since immigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Sifting through a dense mountain of photos, letters, files, and objects, Goldfinger begins to uncover clues that seem to point to a greater mystery and soon a complicated family history unfolds before his camera. What starts to take shape reflects nothing less than the troubled and taboo story of three generations of Germans – both Jewish and non-Jewish – trying to piece together the puzzle of their lives in the aftermath of the terrible events of World War II.”  [Rotten Tomatoes] []

“Borne on the generational ripples of a painful history, Arnon Goldfinger’s “The Flat” is a true-life detective story that uncovers much more than the tangled roots of its maker’s family tree. The flat in question is the cluttered Tel Aviv apartment of Mr. Goldfinger’s recently deceased grandmother, a German Jew who, along with her husband, emigrated from Berlin in the 1930s. Among the antiques, letters and almost a dozen mink stoles was a commemorative coin bearing a swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other. This bizarre artifact would come to symbolize a slowly unraveling mystery, one that would eventually lead to a drowsy German suburb and the daughter of a high-ranking Nazi propagandist.”Maintaining a gentle, self-effacing presence and bracingly direct style, Mr. Goldfinger determines to learn what the past can offer a family that, like his, “lives only in the present.

Tirelessly prodding the scab of denial and the bruises of Holocaust memories, he wonders why his strangely incurious mother, Hannah, never questioned her parents too closely about the war. “What for?” Hannah responds, and the question reverberates through a film that begins as a family quest but evolves into a gripping study of know-don’t-tell reticence and the umbilical tie of a lost homeland.” [New York Times]


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