An astounding story of love and activism is told in “Klarsfeld: A Love Story,” a documentary about Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld being screened at the upcoming Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival — with the Klarsfelds present.
The 90-minute documentary feature by Mike Lerner and Martin Herring will be screened December 19, 8 p.m., as part of the six-day festival taking place during Hanukkah. The Klarsfelds will hold a discussion with the audience following the screening of the film.
The film weaves the couple’s past with their ongoing efforts against Europe’s rising stream of fascism, as they continue to fight, into their eighties.
Beate Klarsfeld was born in Berlin to parents who weren’t Nazis but voted for Adolf Hitler. Her father was drafted into the infantry in 1939 and fought in France, until he was sent home following a serious bout of pneumonia.
As a teen, Beate battled with her parents about their histories during the Nazi era. Her transformation continued when she lived in Paris for a year in 1960 working as an au pair, and began to confront the Holocaust. It was there that she met and married the French lawyer and historian Serge Klarsfeld, whose father lost his life in Auschwitz.
The two felt a deep sense of responsibility to confront and expose fascism. One of Beate’s most renowned, early public acts was slapping the face of German chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who had been a registered member of the Nazi party, in 1968.
Beate Klarsfeld also helped discover the whereabouts of SS war criminal Klaus Barbie in Bolivia in 1972, leading to his life imprisonment sentence more than a decade later.
The film weaves that gripping past with the couples’ present-day activities and includes testimonies from French President Emmanuel Macron, friends and family members, Holocaust survivors, and fellow activists.
Throughout, the Klarsfelds come across as a genuine, loving couple, dedicated to one another, their long marriage, their family and their sense of justice.