Akte Grüninger

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Akte Grüninger
Screenplay byBernhard Lehner
Mike Schaerer
Story byAnne Walser
Golli Marboe
Directed byAlain Gsponer
Theme music composerRichard Dorfmeister
Michael Pogo Kreiner
Country of originSwitzerland
Original language(s)Swiss German, German
Producer(s)Bernd Lange
CinematographyMatthias Fleischer
Running time96 minutes
DistributorThe Walt Disney Company (Switzerland) GmbH
Original release
  • 2013 (2013)

Akte Grüninger is a Swiss-Austrian feature film that was produced in 2013 for the Swiss television SRF. The television film focuses on the events in late summer 1938, when Paul Grüninger saved the lives of up to 3,600 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria by pre-dating their visas, enabling them to migrate 'illegally' to Switzerland.


In August 1938, Switzerland closed its borders to Jewish refugees that tried to evade the Nazi regime. Migration of Jewish people by crossing the green border to Switzerland was declared by the Swiss government to be illegal, and refugees had to be sent back to Germany and Austria respectively. Furthermore, hundreds of people without a valid visa, tried to cross the green border to be secure in Switzerland from the Holocaust, most of them by crossing the border to the Canton of St. Gallen. Those "illegal migrations" and the background of those border crossings, its support by officials and citizens in Switzerland, got in the focus of the Swiss immigration police.

The Swiss immigration police senior official, Heinrich Rothmund (Robert Hunger-Bühler), ordered the police inspector Robert Frei (Max Simonischek), a ruthless and authoritarian faithful official, to investigate in the canton of St. Gallen. The Jewish refugees appear to be supported by parts of the local population, with approval of the police commandant of the Canton St. Gallen, Paul Grüninger (Stefan Kurt). Frei's investigation confirm the suspicion that police captain Grüninger allowed Jewish refugees to enter without a valid visa. Grüningers also falsifies documents and personally helps refugees to illegally cross the border into Switzerland. Grüninger indeed confesses, but he does not handle, so his opinion, against the law and thus against the state security of Switzerland. His motives are also based on pure humanity. Frei is overawed by Grüninger's integrity, intransigence and his personal sight, and Frei gets in doubt of the legality of the investigations.


In alphabetical order


Paul Grüninger assumably in 1939

The events in August 1938 and thereafter and the characters base on facts respectively on historical personalities, the role of inspector Frei is fictitious.[1] Paul Grüninger was dismissed by the government without notice in March 1939. Two years later, Grüninger was sentenced by the district court of St. Gallen because of official misconduct and forgery to a fine – he was degraded, dismissed from the police service, sentenced to a fine and received no pension. In 1995 the district court of St. Gallen revoked the judgment against Paul Grüninger, and in 1998 the government of the Canton of St.Gallen paid compensation to his descendants. Ostracized and accused and slandered as a womanizer and corrupt fraudsters, even as a Nazi by some people in the 2000s, the former chief of police for the rest of his life was no longer fixed point: Paul Grüninger died in 1972, nearly forgotten in Switzerland, without rehabilitation by the Swiss authorities – in 1971, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial foundation in Israel honoured Grüninger as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.[2]

Already brought back partially into the public memory by some publications beginning in 1984, in 1999 also the so-called Bergier Commission's report took part to Grüninger's rehabilitation, as well to rehabilitate the surviving people who had been convicted during the Nazi period in Switzerland for their assistance to refugees – 137 women and men got public Rehabilitation to 2009.[2] The Rhine bridge between Diepoldsau (Switzerland) and Hohenems in Austria, which was one of the locations in the film, was in summer 2012 named after Paul Grüninger.[3]


Akte Grüninger was produced by the Swiss television SRF, and supported by the arte network and by the Fernsehfonds Austria foundation.[4] The film plot is complemented with historic cuts. The shooting took place in the canton of St. Gallen and in Austria in late 2012 and early 2013 within 11 weeks, among others in Mels, Diepoldsau and Hohenems at the original locations by C-Films, Mecom Fiction GmbH and makido film;[5] the post production ended in mid-2013. The production of the film was also supported by the Swiss and Austrian authorities and some organizations, among them Bundeamt für Kultur (EDI), Zürcher Filmstiftung, city of St. Gallen, Canton of St. Gallen, Swisslos, Vorarlberg Kultur, Landys & Gyr foundation, Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund (SIG).[6]

Cinema and television[edit]

Broadcast on Arte was in December 2013, on Swiss television Akte Grüninger was the last time shown on 19 October 2014 at 08:05 pm on SRF 1. Premiered on 23 January 2014 at the Solothurn Film Festival in Switzerland[7] and on 29 January 2014 in Austria,[3] the film was also shown in selected Swiss and Austrian cinemas beginning on the 30 January 2014.[4]

Critical response[edit]

Neue Zürcher Zeitung claims the film dares in his production of Swiss history with the neuralgic issues that it raises before in quite delicate and relevant points - more than most recent movies produced in Switzerland.[8] The film was reviewed by the teacher's association in December 2013 for educational use in Swiss schools, and recommended for general educational purposes in Austria.[9]


Home media[edit]

The film was released in 2014 on Blu-ray and DVD in German language.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jörg Krummenacher (2014-01-23). ""Akte Grüninger" – Fiktion und Fakten" (in German). Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  2. ^ a b Stefan Keller (2014-01-23). ""Akte Grüninger": Der Flüchtlingshelfer und die Rückkehr der Beamten" (in German). Die Wochenzeitung WOZ. Retrieved 2014-11-03.
  3. ^ a b Ingrid Bertel (2014-01-29). ""Akte Grüninger": Filmpremiere in Hohenems" (in German). ORF (broadcaster). Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  4. ^ a b Nadine Gliesche. "Neuer SRF Schweizer Film "Akte Grüninger" geht ins Kino" (in German). SRF. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  5. ^ "Akte Grüninger – Die Geschichte eines Grenzgängers" (in German). crew united. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  6. ^ Press map: Akte Grüninger
  7. ^ "Akte Grüninger – Die Geschichte eines Grenzgängers" (in German). Solothurner Filmtage. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  8. ^ Bettina Spoerri (2014-01-29). ""Akte Grüninger" – Zivilcourage ist ein seltenes Gewächs" (in German). Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  9. ^ "Akte-Grüninger. Geschichte eines Grenzgängers" (in German). Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust (erinnern.at). Retrieved 2014-10-20.

External links[edit]