Danny Ben-Moshe’s Revenge: Our Dad the Nazi Killer is a fascinating documentary about perspective, poignantly exploring one family’s involvement with vigilantism.
What would you do if you found out something that could completely alter how you feel about a parent? And what would you do if that ‘thing’ involved murder, vigilante networks and pursuing the fight against systemic antisemitism? Those are the questions at the heart of Danny Ben-Moshe’s Revenge: Our Dad the Nazi Killer, wherein three brothers try to unravel the truth in the stories, secrets and rumours that have lingered at the edges of their family for decades. It’s a fascinating – if a little sedate – documentary about injustice, vigilantism, and coming to terms with an aspect of somebody’s life having been hidden from you.
Boris Green left his native Germany after the second world war. A proud Jewish man, he and his younger brother were the only surviving members of his family, and emigrated to Australia for the chance at a better, safer, life. He ran a successful jewellery store, had three sons whom he loved very much – Jack, Jon and Sam – and was apparently involved in the murder of an alleged Nazi in Sydney. The brothers set out to uncover the truth about the ‘family secret’, and along the way uncover a network of similar, equally mysterious deaths.
While the secretive and historical nature of the cases Jack, Jon and Sam – along with a private investigator – are delving into, finding definitive answers is not necessarily what Ben-Moshe is focussed on here. Rather, it’s a film about perspective, about finding out things you may never have imagined are in fact true, and dealing with the repercussions of that knowledge. It’s about understanding the horror of knowing that the war criminals who brutally persecuted your people fled right alongside you, escaping deserved justice and being given the chance to live the lives they denied to so many. And it’s about understanding what led to the choices Boris – and others like him – made, about coming to terms with how the situation changes the perception Jack, Jon and Sam have of their father.
It’s a fascinating story, and while Ben-Moshe does his best to make reading papers, talking on the phone and looking at photographs as visually stimulating as possible, it will be a little too sedate for those intrigued by the promised ‘murder mystery’ premise. But that’s not to say it’s a bad film, rather it’s an interesting, important and surprisingly poignant one. It deals with deep rooted anger, systemic injustices and the shameful stain of antisemitism, packaged up in a tale about three brothers seeking to really know their dad.
Revenge: Our Dad The Nazi Killer uncovers an aspect of Jewish history that most will be completely unfamiliar with. It highlights the consequences of injustices and vigilantism, but also gives a family the chance to bring its secrets to light, and move forward with a deeper understanding of each other.
Revenge: Our Dad The Nazi Killer will have its UK Premiere at the UK Jewish Film Festival on 19 November, 2023 with a Q&A with David Baddiel and director David Freedman.