From Heroes to Sentenced

Jewish WW1 veterans in the Holocaust

Documentary Movie - Restored and Colorized

About the Film

From Heroes to Sentenced

Jewish WW1 veterans in the Holocaust

Documentary Movie - Restored and Colorized

From Heroes to Sentenced: German, Austro-Hungarian Jewish WW1 soldiers, veterans and the Holocaust Endorsed by the American Jewish Archives and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History The story of half million Jews who fought for Central Powers, Germany, Austria-Hungary, in the Great War, has yet to be told.

Jews had enjoyed full citizen rights for almost 50 years when World War I broke out in the summer of 1914. These German and Austro-Hungarian born Jews, from all walks of life and degrees of worship, reciprocated their emancipation serving King and Kaiser (Emperor) in trenches, cavalry, Navy and in the air, (in greater proportions than their fellow citizens). They had more to prove and much to lose.

Their unique stories and tragic fates are illustrated in this ground-breaking documentary. Heroes and patriots some killed in combat while others murdered by the Nazi regime barely a generation later. Stories of flying aces such as Wilhelm Frankl’s heroic death and Fritz Beckhardt concentration camp ordeals. Many stories of the service and fate of these Jewish veterans, never told with details thought lost, are illustrated in rare and unseen WWI and Holocaust footage, restored in unprecedented detail and colourised for effect.

We are proud to work on this project with top scholars. Our advisors and experts include: Dr. Gary P. Zola, Dr. Michael Geheran, Rabbi Jack W. Romberg, Dr. Sheldon Goldberg, Mike Rugel, Jeffrey Edelstein, Jordan Auslander, Karoly Vandor, Yochai Ben Ghedalia and many more.

Richard Stern

Richard Stern

Richard Stern, a German Jewish soldier, was awarded the prestigious Iron Cross in 1917. During the 1930s he was photographed boldly wearing his Iron Cross as he confronted Nazi paramilitary units (SA) who had come to enforce the boycott of his shop. Stern was arrested, but managed to escape and eventually made his way to America. During WW II he donated his now-infamous Iron Cross to a scrap-metal drive so it could be melted down for ammunition. Though he was already forty years of age, he joined the US Army and earned a Silver Star, America’s third highest medal for bravery, for gallantry in Italy.

Otto Frank

Otto Frank

Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, was a German Jewish veteran who served as a lieutenant during WW I. His brother also fought in the German Army. What were Otto Frank’s thoughts when this loyal citizen of German fled the country for which he had served? After living freely in Amsterdam and then forced into hiding from his former countrymen what pain did this former officer feel after learning that his wife and two daughters were murdered?

Otto Rottman

Otto Rottman

18 year-old Otto Rottman came from a military family. His father and grandfather, who served in the Franco-Prussian War, had been soldiers. During three months of combat in 1914, Otto quickly earned nine medals before he was killed that same year. Although saddened by his death, his family was proud of his sacrifice, which gave the lie to anti-Semitic/Nazi claims of Jews shirking their duties and cowardice.

January 26, 2021
The BBC featured our documentary in progress for International Holocaust Memorial Day.

Showreel with Project Director's thoughts

Holocaust Colorized Showreel