The story is about Hatred, Love and Bread.
A group of friends and lovers in Berlin find their carefree lives suddenly turned into a waking nightmare when they come to the attention of the Nazi authorities. Returning home from her eighteenth birthday party, Sara finds the uncle and aunt who raised her arrested and abducted, her friends under suspicion and her entire family branded with a Jewish heritage of the parents that she never knew.
Abandoned by her lover Dieter, within hours, Sara, her sister Hanna, Hanna’s baby Inge and their cousin Magda are rounded up and packed into cattle trucks, heading ever East for slaughter. Following a brief respite to experience the irony of Nazi Propaganda at Terezin, the group arrive at their “ultimate destination” to undergo the first of many “Selections” by the terrible Doctor “Uncle Rudi”, where the babies, the children, the old, the infirm or frail of mind are routinely diverted straight to the gas chambers.
As the piles of spectacles, hair and shoes grow ever higher, here they meet “The Cobbler”, a Rabbi who has lost his faith and has been driven mad by the Nazi’s requirement that he survives to service their Jackboots, a sadistic Kapo (Camp Enforcer) and Dieter… Having sought to protect himself whilst Sara’s lover by signing up as a Wehrmacht Soldier, Dieter finds himself stationed as a Camp Guard. Having seen The Final Solution first hand, he is now within a second’s decision of suicide. Seeing Sara brings the salvation of his mind within grasp, but the revulsion towards his indoctrination and his one true desire to save her can only end one way. “The die has been set, and the machinations of mere men can do nothing to alter the fickle ways of Fate.”
The Story of the Bread
A Prisoner has awoken in a hut to find his tiny stale crust of bread stolen. In these circumstances, a crust of stale bread could mean the difference between life and death. Hanna (Sara’s sister) had stolen the bread from this Prisoner to keep her baby Inge alive, but the crust was so hard that some still remains hidden inside her shawl. Hanna confesses this to Sara. Sara knows that everyone will be searched, and that Hanna will be found with the tiny crust and killed. That will also be the end of Hanna’s baby Inge. Sara (in the previous scene) has just received a wonderful fresh loaf of Bread from Dieter.
She knows that:
1. If Hanna admits the theft, or the crust is found in Hanna’s shawl, both Hanna and Inge will die.
2. If Sara’s fresh new loaf is found, Dieter will be exposed and killed.
Sara decides that she will sacrifice her own life to save the lives of her sister Hanna, the baby Inge and her lover Dieter. By Sara declaring that she herself stole the bread (and producing the fresh loaf), she knows that the other Prisoner (who knows it is not his bread) will surely claim that it was his bread, because it is a full loaf of wonderful fresh bread, not the pitiful stale crust that was actually stolen from him. That way, the search for the stolen bread ends, and Hanna, Inge and Dieter are safe. It is only Sara that must be killed. She knows this and sacrifices herself because this is the best possible outcome in an impossible situation. She allows herself to be killed over a crust of bread so that others might survive.
Whilst there is irony of dual deceit and circumstance here, the ultimate irony of course is that if only Sara had returned a few minutes earlier from her meeting with Dieter, Sara would have given the bread to Hanna for her and for her baby Inge, which would have meant that Hanna would not have had to steal the bread in the first place, and therefore not set into motion a chain of events that with Sara’s compassion, could have only ever ended one way… the death of her sister. Think of the conspiring circumstances that led to the ultimate inevitability in Romeo & Juliet…
The ultimate irony perhaps is that by giving Sara the bread in the first place, Dieter at the same time:
1. Signed her death sentence
2. Provided her with a way to save Hanna and Inge