This movie is absolutely riveting from start to finish. It is based on a true story of how a group of prisoners in the camp go to extreme risks to protect a three year old Polish Jewish boy [smuggled in a valise and who had escaped extermination in Auschwitz] from the Nazis and certain death in Buchenwald concentration camp.
Besides facing problems in keeping the boy hidden, the prisoners involved , many of whom are members of the communist resistance are also grappling with the issue of armed resistance and how they are going to go about it. The Nazis in charge of the camp suspect something is afoot and try to find the identities of the ringleaders of the resistance, whilst at the same time fearing the advancing Allied forces and what that means for them.
The acting is amazing, and the cast of characters, with familiar names like Armin Mueller Stahl as Hovel, a member of the communist resistance,do a good job of credibly portraying the various characters. The Nazis are also well-portrayed from the two officers who are evil incarnate, bent on finding the little boy and exterminating him, as well as killing off as many prisoners before they retreat, these roles are well done indeed.
Besides the main drama of keeping the boy hidden and organising the uprising against the Nazis, not much else os portrayed about the camp. Buchenwald may not be as infamous as Auschwitz, Majdanek or Dachau, but it was a grim place in its own right. It was the scene of mass murder and also medical experiments. And its history after liberation wasn't exactly a happy ending as Buchenwald was used by the Russians to house Nazi war criminals and also dissenters of the Stalinist regime.
But, despite some flaws, the movie itself is riveting and each scene is filled with a sense of desperation in line with the period in history that it portrays. A must watch for anyone interested in World War Two history. I would also recommend movies like Escape from Sobibor and The Grey Zone, both of which deal with armed resistance against the Nazis in the camps.