BETRAYED (Den største forbrytelsen)

Samuel Golden Pictures
Reviewed for &, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Eirik Svensson
Screenwriter: Lars Gudmestad, Harald Rosenlow-Eeg,  based on Marte Michelet’s book The Greatest Crime: Victims and Perpetrators in the Norwegian Holocaust.
Cast: Jakob Oftebro, Nicolai Cleve Broch, Pia Halvorsen, Axel Bøyum, Kent Dahlgren, Anders Danielsen Lie
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/20/21
Opens: December 3, 2021

There are scores, maybe hundreds of movies that deal in some way with the Holocaust, and many are unique. They treat aspects of the mass murder in a way that no other films had done. In that regard “Betrayed” shows us a people, some of whom are as antisemitic as any you’d find in Europe at the time. Norwegians. What? A Scandinavian folk includes people who actively collaborated with the Nazis? And they even had a camp at Berg, unique in that it was entirely by collaborating Norwegians under the authority of the Minister of Police. It appears that not all Norwegians are like their Scandinavian neighbors, the Danes, who had sent Danish Jews to freedom in Sweden.

“Betrayed” is the story of one family, its principal focus on Charles Braude (Jakob Oftebro) who was a champion boxer in the bantamweight division, married to a Christian woman, saving him from being deported to a death camp.

Den største forbrytelsen, the Norwegian title which means “The Biggest Crime,” opens on happy times. Charles Braude, born in 1915 to a Norwegian-Jewish family of Lithuanian descent, is the son of Sara (Pia Halvorsen) and Isak (Eilif Hartwig). His family had left Lithuania in 1910 because of anti-Jewish pogroms. He is delighted that the Germans would never get as far as Norway. Except that they did, succeeding in administering vast territories in Europe, because in many of the occupied countries they receive the enthusiastic help of the locals. Historians debate whether Hitler could have had the successes he won without the help of local populations in the occupied countries.

Forced to register as Jews, Charles and his family—but not his “Aryan” wife—were sent to Berg, a Norwegian work camp for Jews, the guards brutalizing the inmates despite the presence of Germans. In Berg he had to work seven days a week, surviving on a daily quarter loaf of bread, soup made from flowers, and an ersatz coffee. In the camp, Charles is challenged to box the commandant (Nicalai Cleve Broch), becoming furious when Charles refuses. He is collared and in one of the few disgusting, violent moments is hauled through the mud and forced to kiss a pig’s butt. Ultimately while most of the Jews, over 700, were shipped out on the Donau to Auschwitz (a secretary states, “We’re finally getting rid of the Jews)”, Charles remains in Berg throughout the war until Norway’s liberation in 1945.

Director Eirik Svensson, whose last movie “Seizure” is about the discovery of four young immigrants found in a pool, steers clear of much of the violence to give us a straight, chronological account—a biopic of Charles Braude, if you will. This if one of the few films to blame Norway for collaborating with Hitler and according to Marte Michelet whose book “The Greatest Crime: Victims and Perpetrators in the Norwegian Holocaust,” Norway should be deeply ashamed for assisting in the deportation and gassing of those Norwegian Jews who waited too long when escape to Sweden was possible. Norway apologized for its collaboration—in 2012. Well, the Swedes often poke fun of their Scandinavian brothers for being slow moving.

126 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting –B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B+

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By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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