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The hidden hero: Introducing an interactive web documentary to preserve the legacy of Carl Lutz
98 backers pledged CHF 60,485 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Have you ever heard of Carl Lutz, the person who saved tens of thousands of souls from the Holocaust?

If you do not know who Carl Lutz is, it isn’t your fault. Very few historians have cared about his legacy, even though it is a story of incredible civil courage. But you have the chance to help preserve and spread his story as an example of how much a single person can do with his humanity.

In 1944, the Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest. With his bravery and determination he carried out the biggest civil rescue operation of the Second World War - and risked everything.

125 years of Carl Lutz

Next year, in 2020, we will be celebrating Carl Lutz' 125th birthday and as a celebration of this event, we want to create a web documentary about his incredible life’s work in order to help keep his legacy alive.

In 2014 Daniel von Aarburg and Docmine produced a documentary film about this important rescuer, but his life’s work is in danger of being forgotten. This is why we will create a web documentary that can be freely accessed by anyone to preserve and pass on this important piece of history. But in order to do so, we need your help!


Why we need your help

With your support, we can give the incredible story of Carl Lutz the attention it needs and deserves to be remembered for future generations. We are asking for  your financial support and your engagement to spread his story around the world. The story of Carl Lutz is an important piece of history, that we not only must preserve but that also needs to be heard by as many people as possible. By helping us fund this project, you become an essential part in keeping the story and memory of a real hero alive.


Carl and Gertrud Lutz in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi».
Carl and Gertrud Lutz in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi».

The project: An interactive web documentary

The web documentary will give you an even deeper insight into the life and deeds of Carl Lutz. The web documentary will be split  into six chapters and is designed so that the user can navigate through each section of  content.

Video sequences

Video sequences contain statements from contemporary witnesses who owe their lives  to Carl Lutz. The videos showcase the survivors incredible stories but also reflect on the survivors gratitude and respect for a man who risked his life for the lives of others. The videos recount the fears and hopes the survivors  experienced during the Nazi occupation in  Budapest. Their stories are very valuable and contain irretrievable statements including  prominent survivors such as Agnes Heller and György Konrad.

Background material

In addition to the videos, interactive graphics and background material explain the historical context and concept of "letters of protection" which Carl Lutz issued to protect the victims from Nazi persecution.

Open and premium access

The web documentary will be accessible to everyone. But if you donate CHF 85, you will be able to receive exclusive access to background material, as well as a streaming link to the full version of the award-winning documentary by Daniel von Aarburg portraying the life of Carl Lutz.

Prototype of the web documentary
Prototype of the web documentary
Prototype of the web documentary
Prototype of the web documentary
Prototype of the web documentary – Bildquellen «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»
Prototype of the web documentary – Bildquellen «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»

Meet the team

Agnes Hirschi: Stepdaughter of Carl Lutz

Daniel von Aarburg: Film director

Regina Dziallas: Design concept

Manuel Lang, Evgenija Tokareva, Guido Koch : Web Development

Patrick Müller: Producer

Joanna Wierig: Videographer and Social Media Manager

Olivia Grubenmann: Project Coordinator and Social Media Manager

Remo Krieg: Project Coordinator

Guido Koch: Design and programming of Web Documentary

Carl Lutz Gesellschaft: Partner of the Crowdfunding campaign

ETH Zurich Archive for contemporary history : Nachlass Carl Lutz im Archiv für Zeitgeschichte der ETH Zürich

YOU:  Without your support and engagement, this project would not be possible.

What if we fund more money than the initial goal of CHF 60,000?

First of all, we give you our sincerest thank you for making this project possible! If we raise more money than the initial goal of CHF 60,000, the web documentary will be translated to other languages. Below are some goals that are possible with further funding for the future of this project.

  • At CHF 72,000  we will realize a Smartphone version of the web documentary.
  • At CHF 87,000 we will implement a German version of the web documentary.
  • At CHF 102,000 we will implement a French version. Que formidable!
  • At CHF 120,000 we will implement a Hungarian version, too.

How we will keep you informed

Follow Docmine on Facebook, where we will be continually updating the progress of the crowdfunding project: https://www.facebook.com/studiodocmine/

Here you can find more information on the project: http://www.docmine.com/carl-lutz-crowdfunding

The story of Carl Lutz

In 1895, Carl Lutz was born in Walzenhausen, Switzerland. By the age of 18, he immigrated to the United States, where he studied history and law. This is also where he found his passion for photography and filming. In 1920, Lutz had taken a summer job at the Swiss Embassy in Washington, D.C. and eventually became a diplomat.

Transfer to Hungary

In 1942, after having worked in Palestine, Berlin, and St.Louis (the latter is where he met his first wife Gertrud Frankhauser) he was transferred to the embassy in Budapest as a vice-consul. Suddenly, he found himself in the position of being one of the most important diplomats in the country. As chief of "Foreign Interests", he had the task of representing the interests of 12 allied war opponents vis a vis Nazi-Germany and allied Hungary.

In 1944 the relatively good life in Hungary came to an abrupt end when Germany occupied Budapest. During that time, Adolf Eichmann travelled to Budapest to oversee the deportation of 750,000 Jews. This is the moment when Lutz showed his real courage. Lutz met Eichmann personally and discussed the fate of the Jews in Budapest. He referred to an alleged British mandate, which allowed safe passage for 8,000 Jews to cross over to Palestine. Eichmann laughed at his request. Surprisingly however, the Headquarter of the Nazis in Berlin allowed Lutz the contingent due to his previous good work for the Germans in Palestine.

Swiss letter of protection

After that incident, Lutz developed a "Swiss Letter of Protection" for the Jews in Budapest, putting the owners under Swiss diplomatic protection and allowing them to emigrate to Palestine. This news spread quickly among the Jews residing in Budapest and soon thousands lined up in front of his office, hoping to receive a letter of protection.

Because so many Jews visited his office, Lutz had to rent a house nearby, which is now known as the famous “Glashaus”. Later, this house also became a place of refuge for many Jews. In total, Lutz placed 72 houses in Budapest under Swiss protection, ultimately giving 17,000 Jews shelter.

Due to the skill, determination and courage of Carl Lutz and the many volunteers who helped him, the "Swiss Letters of Protection" and the houses under Swiss protection were respected by the Nazis almost until the end of the war. His contribution and achievements saved the lives of over 50,000 Jews in Budapest.

Jews waiting for a Swiss Letter of Protection in front of the Glashaus in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»
Jews waiting for a Swiss Letter of Protection in front of the Glashaus in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»

The last year of the war

During the last year of the war, in 1944, the young Jewish woman named Magda Grausz visited the British consulate to ask for Carl Lutz's help. She brought her daughter Agnes along with her, who was born in London and therefore a British citizen. Carl Lutz offered Magda, whom he seemed to like, a job as a housemaid in his private residency. He brought mother and child  into his home and placed them under his protection. Lutz was very fond of Magda but being married to Gertrud, and being the devoted husband he was, he didn’t show his love openly during the time they all lived together.

During the last two months of the war, Lutz, his family, and some other 20 people lived in the cellar of the British consulate. Even though the building was bombed  several times, all of the people residing in the cellar survived.

The incredible life’s work of Carl Lutz ultimately saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews who survived the war thanks to the courageous actions of Carl Lutz.


Press reviews documentary film "Carl Lutz, the forgotten hero"

« There are stories, that are so unbelievable, they can only be true! », Stern

« An impressive documentary film », NZZ

« Late reparation», KULTURPLATZ SRF

« A remarkable document », TAGES-ANZEIGER

« A cinematic memorial », BUDAPESTER ZEITUNG

« With strong and dramatic life stories », NÉPSZABADSÁG

Carl Lutz in his office at the US legation in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»
Carl Lutz in his office at the US legation in Budapest – Bildquelle «Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich/Agnes Hirschi»

Risks and challenges

What challenges might we encounter?
Creating a web documentary takes time and patience. Since we are working together with many different creative individuals, this project could end up taking longer than we initially planned. However, thanks to our experience of 10 years in documentary filmmaking, digital publishing and creation of videobooks and webstories, we are confident that we can implement the web documentary efficiently and in the high quality it deserves.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 25 or more About US$ 26

    Support

    You'll feel good and help to preserve an important piece of history and the memories of a great hero by supporting a very important project.
    You will receive a SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the Webstory.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 50 or more About US$ 52

    Downloadable Postcard

    You will receive a download link for a postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz, and the rewards from the "Support" category.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
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    12 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 85 or more About US$ 88

    Premium Access Web Documentary and Film

    You will get access to the Premium version of the Web Documentary with all the extra features, including the full-length documentary “Carl Lutz – The forgotten Hero", additionally to all the rewards from the above categories.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Premium web documentary + full-length documentary film Carl Lutz
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 100 or more About US$ 103

    Thank you Postcard with Signature

    You will receive a personal postcard, showing Carl Lutz in Budapest, signed by Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz, additionally to all the rewards from the catogories up to CHF 50.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Personal postcard with signature form Agnes Hirschi
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 150 or more About US$ 154

    Book of Choice, signed by Agnes Hirschi

    You will receive a signed book of your choice: Either a copy of Agnes Hirschi’s book “Under Swiss Protection” (in English or Hungarian), or a copy of the book “Carl Lutz - Schweizer Diplomat in Budapest 1944. Ein Gerechter unter den Völkern” (in German or English), written by György Vamos and signed by Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz and all the rewards from the categories up to CHF 50.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Signed copy of Agnes Hirschi’s book “Under Swiss Protection”
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 150 or more About US$ 154

    Membership in the Carl Lutz Society

    You will get an annual membership (Glasmitgliedschaft) for the Carl Lutz Society, additionally to all the rewards up to the CHF 50 category.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Membership in the "Carl Lutz Society" (1 year)
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 350 or more About US$ 360

    Webinar with the Filmmaker

    You will get access to a webinar in a small group, where film director Daniel von Aarburg will be talking about how he created the documentary and you will have the chance to ask him questions. You get exciting background knowledge about the production of the documentary film Carl Lutz.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • 50 minute webinar with film director Daniel von Aarburg
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 450 or more About US$ 462

    Handmade Postcard by Carl Lutz

    You will receive one of the limited handmade postcards made by Carl Lutz and signed by Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 0 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 500 or more About US$ 514

    Skype with Agnes Hirschi

    You will get the chance to have an exclusive Skype session with eyewitness Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz. In a small group you will have the opportunity to ask her questions about her stepfather Carl Lutz and the time in the Glass House when Budapest was bombed.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • 50 minute Skype session with Agnes Hirschi
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    Limited 2 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 1,000 or more About US$ 1,027

    Framed Photograph of Carl Lutz

    You will get an impressive framed photograph of Carl Lutz in Budapest, with a signature from his stepdaughter Agnes Hirschi.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Framed photograph of Carl Lutz, signed by Agnes Hirschi
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 2 backers
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    Pledge CHF 5,000 or more About US$ 5,131

    Stay at Sunneblick & Meet Agnes Hirschi

    You will get to meet Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz and the film director Daniel von Aarburg. Have a walk on the Friedensweg in Walzenhausen, the birth place of Carl Lutz, together with the director Daniel von Aarburg and meet Agnes Hirschi for a dinner in a cozy atmosphere at the Sonneblick afterwards. We will take care of organizational things and the accomodation (1 night) in Walzenhausen. Travel to Walzenhausen is organized within Europe. Travel from overseas not included.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Walk the Friedensweg and dinner with Agnes Hirschi
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    Limited 0 backers
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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge CHF 9,500 About US$ 9,749

    Visit the Archives with Agnes Hirschi

    You are amazing! You will meet Agnes Hirschi, the stepdaughter of Carl Lutz, for tea or lunch and get access to her stepfather's archives in Zurich, where you will get an insight into unpublished documents and recordings. Accomodation for one night included in a hotel in Zurich. If you're travelling from within Europe, we will organize it for you. Travel from Overseas is not included.

    Includes:
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • Meet Agnes Hirschi for lunch and get access to Carl Lutz' archive
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    Pledge CHF 9,500 About US$ 9,749

    Meet Agnes Hirschi in Budapest

    You will get to meet Agnes Hirschi in Budapest for a personal tour, visit the famous Glashaus and have an exclusive dinner with Carl Lutz stepdaughter. We will take care of the accomodation for 1 night in Budapest and the travel within Europe. Travel from overseas is not included.

    Includes:
    • Downloadable postcard with a thank you note from Agnes Hirschi
    • SPECIAL THANKS TO listing in the credits on the web documentary
    • Meet Agnes Hirschi in Budapest for 3 days, incl. tour and dinner
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Funding period

- (30 days)