Akte Grüninger is a Swiss-Austrian feature film produced in 2013 for the Swiss television SRF.
The television film focuses on events in late summer 1938, when Paul Grüninger saved the lives of up to 3,600 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria by pre-dating their visas, enabling them to migrate ‘illegally’ to Switzerland.
In August 1938, Switzerland closed its borders to Jewish refugees who tried to evade the Nazi regime.
Migration of Jewish people across the green border to Switzerland was declared by the Swiss government to be illegal, and refugees were sent back to Germany and Austria. Hundreds of people without a valid visa tried to cross the border to be secure in Switzerland from the Holocaust, most of them by crossing the border to the Canton of St. Gallen.
These “illegal migrations” and the background of the border crossings, and its support by officials and citizens in Switzerland, got the attention of the Swiss immigration police.
Swiss immigration police senior official Heinrich Rothmund (Robert Hunger-Bühler) ordered the police inspector Robert Frei (Max Simonischek), a ruthless, loyal, and authoritarian official, to investigate in the canton of St. Gallen.
The Jewish refugees appeared to be supported by parts of the local population, with approval of the police commandant of the Canton St. Gallen, Paul Grüninger (Stefan Kurt). Frei’s investigation confirm the suspicion that police captain Grüninger allowed Jewish refugees to enter without a valid visa.
Grüninger also falsified documents and personally helped refugees to illegally cross the border into Switzerland. Grüninger confesses to Frei, but he says he is not acting against the law or against the state security of Switzerland.
His motives are based on pure humanity. Frei is overawed by Grüninger’s integrity, intransigence and his personal views, and Frei comes to doubt the legality of the investigations.
Production & Filming Details
- Director: Alain Gsponer.
- Producer: Bernd Lange.
- Writers (Screenplay): Bernhard Lehner and Mike Schaerer.
- Writers (Story): Anne Walser and Golli Marboe.
- Music: Richard Dorfmeister.
- Cinematography: Matthias Fleischer.
- Distributor: The Walt Disney Company (Switzerland) GmbH.
- Release Date: 2013.
- Running Time: 96 minutes.
- Country: Switzerland and Austria.
- Language: German and Swiss German.