Special to the JTA Wiesenthal’s Autobiographical Book to Be Made into a Motion Picture

Simon Wiesenthal’s autobiographical book “Murderers Among Us” will be made into a motion picture by Home Box Office Pictures and Robert Cooper Productions, it was announced at a press conference at the Simon Wiesenthal Center here.

Filming will begin in various European locations this spring, with HBO cable release in 1988, followed by foreign theatrical release. The actors and the “name director” have not been selected yet.

Oscar-winner Abby Mann, who wrote the screenplay for “War and Love” about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, will collaborate with Emmy-winner Lange Slate on the screenplay about the internationally known hunter of Nazis. Mann told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the movie will be a wholly produced feature film and not rely on documentary footage.

Surrounded at the press conference by relies from the extermination camps and photos of the victims and killings, Michael Fuchs of HBO said his company was honored to make this movie.

“Wiesenthal is one of the most significant men of all time,” he said. “In his all too lonely vigil, he has hunted the most heinous war criminals in history, while raising the world’s consciousness and conscience.”

COMPARABLE TO DAVID AND GOLIATH

Veteran producer Robert Cooper compared the account of Wiesenthal’s post-war activity with the story of David and Goliath and great modern detective yarns.

Wiesenthal himself explained his work as founding director of the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna, which has led to the arrest of more than 1,000 Nazi criminals, including Adolf Eichmann.

“I didn’t stay alive to pursue my normal chores of an architect,” he said. “I tried to find the truth and asked for justice. In my years of tracking down Nazis, I have never accused anyone without having absolute proof of his guilt.”

He recalled that he “began preparing evidence on Nazi atrocities for the War Crimes Section of the US Army within months after being liberated from the Mauthausen death camp in May of 1945. Being asked about my motives, I replied, “When history looks back, I want people to know that the Nazis weren’t able to kill millions upon millions of innocent civilians and get away with it.”

A film also called “Murders Among Us” was produced in Germany in the aftermath of World War II. It blamed the Holocaust on the war, equating the deliberate murder of Jewish and non-Jewish civilians with the Allied air raids and bombings of military facilities. Of course, the current film will have the opposite view.

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