Chopin Express

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Original title Chopin Express
Country of production Germany
original language German
Publishing year 1971
length 84 minutes
Director Michael Kehlmann
script Leo Lehman (Translation: Hubert von Bechtolsheim and Marianne de Barde)
production Richard Epp (production manager), Werner Sommer (production)
camera Jens Möller
cut Dorrit Wintterlin

Chopin Express is a German television film from 1971 that illuminates the situation of Polish Jews during World War II and in the People's Republic of Poland . The title Chopin Express was the slang term for the night train connection between Warsaw and Vienna , which at times represented the only way to travel from Poland to western countries and with which the film's protagonist leaves his home country.


Late 1960s: the Polish-Jewish writer Bernhard Litowski is accused of Zionism and expelled from the People's Republic of Poland. He sets out on a journey via Vienna, Munich, Antwerp and London to New York. At the same time, he is looking for his own (national, political and religious) identity.

The film shows two time levels in parallel, Bernhard's presence (in color) and his childhood during the war (in black and white).


Bernhard's Jewish mother has to go into hiding in German-occupied Poland after her husband was arrested. She gives her son to a peasant family, to whom she gives all of her savings so that they can look after the boy. In a hiding place she meets the former fur trader Shimon Zimmer, who fled Poland with his family, but then returned to fetch his mother. But now he has to hide and can no longer leave the country. His only valuable possession is a Patek Philippe wrist watch.

Bernhard's mother is checked on the street by a German patrol and shows her forged ID. A Pole, who is collaborating with the Germans and accompanying the patrol, appears suspicious. He makes her say Hail Mary , with which she should prove that she is not a Jew, but a Catholic. Since she cannot do this, she is led away. Zimmer makes his way to the farm where Bernhard lives. He does not tell Bernhard that his mother has been arrested and asks whether he is being well looked after. Then he gives him his Patek Philippe and disappears again. Zimmer visits friends who offer him money and a place to hide, but refuses both because he doesn't want to put anyone in danger. Shortly afterwards he commits suicide.


After the war, Bernhard Litowski was able to attend school in the newly founded People's Republic of Poland and later study and become a writer. When the anti-Semitic (officially only anti-Zionist ) mood in Poland intensified after the Six Day War in 1967 , Litowski was able to publish less and less and was finally, like many other Jews, pressured to leave the country (see also: March riots in 1968 in Poland ) . He first travels to Vienna and later to Munich. He almost got into an argument with the Jewish couple Dorfman, with whom he is visiting in Munich, because they speak so positively of the Germans and because they have settled in Germany as Jews. Then he visits his cousin in Antwerp. At a celebration, he gets back into political discussions, including the role of Poles during World War II.

In London he gives a reading from his autobiographical notes to members of an association of Poles in exile. Then he travels to New York to "return a watch", as he says. What is meant is the Patek Philippe watch from Zimmer, which he has kept since childhood and can now return Zimmer's widow, who now lives in New York.


The film was produced by Südfunk Stuttgart and broadcast for the first time on March 22, 1971.

Web links