Rachel Stein (Denise van Houten) sits on a boulder beside a lake adjoining Kibbutz Stein in the fledgling State of Israel, 1956. She recalls her WW2 experiences through flashbacks. A B29 USAF Flying Fortress, pursued by a Messerschmitt 109bfe, sheds its bomb load to gain height and escape his pursuer. A bomb destroys Rachel’s hiding place, she is reunited with her escaping parents on a ferry to Belgium from Holland, they are in a trap, German SS troops machine gun the civilians and rob the corpses, Rachel survives and reports proceedings to Kuipers, the Dutch Resistance Chief. Rachel recognises SS Standartenfuhrer Fenser in charge of the assault. Rachel becomes Elise van Ells, she transports explosives on a train, meets and falls for Hauptsturmbannfuhrer Muntze, the Dutch Gestapo Chief, she offers to complete Muntze’s Stamp collection with genuine Koningin Wilhelmina Dutch East Indies issues. In October 1944, Holland was in transition, British paratroopers were badly mauled by 9 and 11 SS Panzer Divisionen in Arnhem, September 1944, the Dutch Resistance was infiltrated with double agents, both German and Dutch, motivated by greed and monetary reward. Smaal, the Dutch Advocat, to whom rich Jews entrusted their belongings was a key suspect for collaboration. Elise secures the Wilhelmina stamps from Smaal for Muntze, stays with him and works to secure the release of Kuiper’s son who was arrested by the Gestapo. Elise takes huge risks, the Dutch Resistance attack the Gestapo HQ using plans from Smaal (it used to be a bank) they are counter attacked by prepared SS guards, only 2 escape – Anders the Doctor and a converted conscientious objector. Fenser, the SS Standartenfuhrer challenged Muntze (Sebastian Bach) that he was negotiating with the Dutch Resistance, Muntze replied that on 20th April 1945 with the Russians in Berlin, further bloodshed was futile. Muntze and Elise were arrested, fortunately, Muntze’s German driver smuggled them out to relative freedom.8th May 1945 amid general jubilation, Muntze and Elise sought out Smaal and challenged his collaboration, just then a ‘Canadian’ shot Smaal and his wife, Elise finds the Zwartboek (Black Book) accounting for all the set ups of rich Jews with Fenser the SS Standartenfuhrer.
Fenser collects the loot on an E-Boot whilst attempting to escape liberated Holland by sea. Anders the Doctor we see shoot Fenser dead.Bizarrely, Muntze is executed by an overbearing, still uniformed SS Obergruppenfuhrer who successfully bullied a weak Canadian Major. English, Hebrew, Dutch (the majority language), German and finally English are used to illustrate a story rich in experiences that the very very few are still alive to retell. I learned Dutch in the 70’s and met former concentration camp inmates in Holland. I lived and worked in Germany and when Germans say they have a history I say ‘Yes, Germany stopped Europe from becoming Communist, WW2 ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berliner Mauer’. Elise discovered Anders, the Doctor was the traitor, he showed her the Jewish loot, she escapes, tells Kuipers, they capture Anders who died horribly. We return to Rachel at Kibbutz Stein as financed by the stolen Jewish hoard.ZwartBoek (Black Book) relates a story based on true life experiences, not necessarily those of one person, however, the incidents portrayed have a basis in fact. Denise van Houten a multilingual, multi-talented actress carried the story from extreme fear and love then love lost to retribution and revenge. Sebastian Bach (Stauffenberg 2004) portrayed a man of conscience, multilingual, multi-disciplined and represented the Deutsches Widerstand (Resistance) where humanity fond expression in his attempt to halt unnecessary bloodshed. Verhoeven returned to the Dutch language to tell a story with great effect, the uniforms and military vehicles were thoroughly authentic as was the film. Highly recommended viewing.