Passport to Freedom: Nazi Germany story is extra relevant now

Sophie Charlotte in Passport to Freedom

Passport to Freedom tells a story based on truth about a Brazilian/German woman who worked in Hamburg in the Brazilian embassy as World War II was starting. She helped German Jews escape Germany with passports and visas letting them into Brazil. In some locales the film is known as Angel of Hamburg.

Exactly how true Passport to Freedom is remains undecided. Some people claim she did nothing special, but others say they have dozens of accounts from the descendants of people she saved who tell of her exploits.

Degrees of truth about Aracy De Carvalho (Sophie Charlotte) wasn’t the key take away from this series for me. It was the slow, deadly Nazi threat creeping through every aspect of life. The Nazis took everything – freedoms, property, lives, safety.

At a time when Nazis proudly announce themselves in the United States and promise to destroy democracy and everything thing that isn’t Aryan, this series is scarily relevant to our current situation. The German Nazi regime killed Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and anyone else they didn’t like. Now, here in the U.S., modern day Nazis/Fascists are screaming about immigrants, non-Christians, homosexuals and trans people and anyone else they don’t like. Certain people took all the wealth while everyone else suffered. Our situations are exactly alike. Some of the lines in the series could have come out of American social media or news outlets just this morning.

The series is both a historical drama and a warning to heed right now.

Stefan Weinert and Sophie Charlotte in Passport to Freedom

In the series we are introduced to Aracy De Carvalho as she drives the city with Milton (Stefan Weinert) in a diplomatic vehicle. She calls him her driving instructor, but they are up to something. She works in the passport and visa department of the Brazilian embassy and does secret things to visas and passports that allow Jews to legally leave the country. Milton is working with her to help Jews leave the country. They have a network of connections.

Rodrigo Lombardi and Sophie Charlotte in Passport to Freedom

A new deputy director arrives at the consulate. He is João Guimarães Rosa (Rodrigo Lombardi) and he falls for Aracy at first sight. He quickly realizes she’s up to something and makes it plain to her that he’s an ally. Soon they are working together to help Jews flee Germany and sleeping together at night.

It’s a big cast with a story that covers many subplots and several years. A couple of the major subplots include one with a singer named Vivi Kruger (Gabriela Petry) who has drug problems and is pretending she’s not Jewish. Vivi is having an affair with a German officer, Thomas Zumkle (Peter Ketnath). When Zumkle sees Aracy he wants her for himself and causes Aracy and João all sorts of trouble throughout.

Aracy has a son in Germany. João has two daughters in Brazil. When things get bad after the Night of Broken Glass, Aracy sends her son home to Brazil. Part way through the war Brazil and Germany broke off all diplomatic relations, so everyone in the embassy was sent home.

The series is a Brazilian production, set in Germany, but it’s in English. Everyone speaks English. It’s the first ever production from Brazil to be done in English. Archival footage from newsreels and photographs from the time are skillfully woven into the events giving it an authentic look.

Aracy De Carvalho is an inspiring character. She was clear in her own mind about what was right and she wouldn’t act in any other way. She took chances and put herself in danger to help people.

Cards at the end show the real people and tell what happened to them later in life. Aracy lived to be 101 years old! João became a well known writer. Prime Video is streaming the series.

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