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Passport to Life



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Theatrical Release Information

The year of 1944 marked the beginning of the end for Hitler's Germany in World War II; the Western Allies had landed in Normandy, while the Russians were chasing the Germans out of Eastern Europe, both racing for Berlin and glory. While Germany's war with the Allies was coming to an end, Hitler's war against the Jews was still in full force. In Hungary, the Nazis and their Hungarian counterparts, the Arrow Cross, made it their top priority to exterminate all of the Jews living there in 1944. In the twelve-month period between March 1944 and the Russian liberation of Budapest, over 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed by the Nazis and the puppet Hungarian government.

In the face of such evil, help came from an unexpected yet determined source. Several diplomats, from five neutral countries, witnessed the horror occurring in Budapest and used their diplomatic status to save as many lives as they could. These brave unsung heroes included: Raoul Wallenberg, Valdemar Langlet and Per Anger of Sweden, Harald Feller and Carl Lutz of Switzerland, Angel Sanz Briz of Spain, Giorgio Perlasca of Italy/Spain, and Gennaro Verolino and Angelo Rotta of the Vatican. Tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews were saved from deportation and certain death through the use of skillfully utilized diplomatic tactics such as: issuing "Shutzpasses"(AKA protective papers), creating safe houses to keep Jews from the ghetto, bribing, threatening or deceiving the wartime authorities when necessary.
"Passport to Life" is the first documentary to tell the complete story of these diplomats who risked their lives to fight against the Holocaust in Hungary. The film serves not only to display the deeds of the diplomats for future generations, but also to show that those rescued by these men went on to make significant contributions to society, contributions that could have been increased by six million. The documentary features Per Anger, Harald Feller and Monsignor Genaro Verolino who were the only ones still alive at the time of filming. Interviews with family members of the deceased diplomats and those who worked alongside them, Jewish men and women who escaped the Nazis with their help, illustrate this story of heroism. "Passport to Life" has been awarded the 2003 Telly Award, the 2003 Aurora Award, and the 2004 Communicators Award. It was also a 2004 New York Festivals Finalist.

Year: 2003
Running Time: 56 min.
Format: DVD Full Screen