A World War 2 Drama
set in Europe 1944 -45
(based on a true story)
During the final months of WW2 a young ambitious Dutch woman is forced to endure the consequences of her decisions and struggles to survive and escape her involvement with the Nazi party.
'Liesbet makes her own choices.
The consequences of her choices enable her to survive but at what cost?'
1944. In France, Doctor Fischer serving in SS Panzer Medical Division is severely injured. In the Netherlands a Luftwaffe plane crashes into a hospital. Two separate events, yet ones which play a significant part in a young Dutch woman’s life and survival during the last nine months of WW2 in Europe.
Liesbet saves the life of the pilot and tenderly nurses the German deserter, Hugo, back to health. Liesbet, intelligent and ambitious, along with her younger rather wayward sister, Corrie, and unscrupulous dominating father live an otherwise settled life in occupied Holland protecting Hugo. Liesbet becomes extremely fond of Hugo but the family are branded as traitors and suffer hostility because they are German sympathisers. Then, suddenly their prosperity and relative comfort is turned upside down with the false announcement of the forthcoming liberation of Holland by the allies. The family has to flee their home for Germany. Liesbet’s father entrusts her to keep safe two small valuable oil paintings which her father previously looted from a Jewish business friend. They depart by train along with many other families. At the border with Germany, Hugo is identified and Liesbet chooses loyalty to her father above Hugo. She puts her own interests first. A shot is heard.
Once on German soil ,Liesbet pledges to Corrie, that they will stay alive at all costs, make the best of it. She is determined they will return home. Separated from Corrie, Liesbet is recruited to work for the Waffen SS and made by her father to marry Doctor Fischer who after his injuries was initially sent to Holland to recuperate. Liesbet has to accompany her husband to Ravensbruck concentration camp where he is a surgeon. Liesbet knows she must to do her duty if she is to survive, first as a nurse and later as a guard. She befriends Klara because Klara has news of Corrie and comes under the powerful influence of another female guard Gerda. Liesbet is faced with many choices to get through the ordeal, some of which are indefensible and gradually as we see the prisoners in the camp cruelly dehumanised and the SS personnel ‘s brutality, so we see Liesbet gradually degenerating. She abuses a young Polish prisoner,Anna. Her one consolation is the two small Rembrandts she knows she must protect and which could be her ticket home. Then her paintings are gone, Fischer has put them in a secure place for her. Liesbet finds them and steals them back but by doing so has broken camp protocol. She flees the camp at night with Klara and Anna, in snow, into unsafe territory, into Poland, arriving cold, hungry and exhausted at the Stutthof Concentration Camp. And there, in the watchtower is Hugo, very much alive, now an SS Officer. Conditions in Stutthof are appalling. Liesbet tells Klara and Anna she has a way out of the camp, a plan to get them all home. The Rembrandts, remain a glimmer of hope yet in the mean time Russian Armies are closing in. Germany is losing its grip on the war. Thousands of refugees are fleeing east to west. The sky is black with bombers, the air thick with smoke, the ground white with snow. A striking coldness encircles everything, the camp, Liesbet’s mind, her senses. In her frozen world she commits unspeakable acts of cruelty against the prisoners. Liesbet has sunk very low becoming much more than just a dutiful guard. Her relationship with Hugo develops, but he sees she is clearly not herself.
Hugo is assigned to accompany a final evacuation of prisoners to the Baltic coast. Both Hugo and Klara persuade Liesbet to board the German personnel and civilian evacuation ship taking refugees home, however they don't go. German Armies are on the back foot. The safety of all Germans which means Liesbet, Klara and Anna is now undoubtedly in question. The Russian and American armies are closing in. Still intent on returning home Liesbet discovers her paintings have been swapped for blank wooden panels. She is determined to see Fischer, get a divorce, retrieve the paintings, in spite of Hugo’s protestations. Shortly into the journey the car is ambushed by Russians. Liesbet is raped and left for dead.
She does eventually return to Hugo who tells the three women to leave, to keep walking and never look back which they do, before American forces seize the paintings from Fischer. Liesbet has undergone severe personal change. In the final moments of the script in January 1946, Liesbet gives birth to a baby girl.