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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
- (30 days)