Thirteen years after making "The Righteous Enemy" (1987), a documentary about Italian soldiers and diplomats who saved my father – and 30,000 other Jewish refugees – from death at the hand of the Nazis, I accompanied my father and uncle on a visit to Vienna, where the two brothers had lived as children before the war.
True Child of Vienna (2000) is a documentary about that visit.
In the film, the two brothers Imre and Max Rochlitz, who fled Nazi Vienna in 1938 when they were in their early teens, return to the sites of their childhood: their High School, their apartment, the tuberculosis sanatorium where their father died in 1927 and the neglected Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of Vienna where he was buried.
A highlight of their visit is the encounter with Max’s good friend Alexander Schwarz, who also fled Vienna after the Anschluss, lived in the US for 60 years and returned to Vienna at the age of 90 to live out his days in a Jewish retirement home.
During their week-long stay, the brothers encounter various aspects of the Haider phenomenon and also pay a visit to the Austrian War Archives.
This is a film about a brief voyage during which a sense of “here and now” alternates with the memory of “here and then,” in a reflective mood pervaded as much by doubts as by certainties.
Partially based on "Accident of Fate" by Imre Rochlitz (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011)