Synopsis by Michael Buening
Hitler's Highway is the first film in a trilogy of documentaries (the other two are The Boot Factory and East of Paradise) exploring director Lech Kowalski's roots in Poland, punk rock, and the effects of history on both from World War II to the present. The documentary is told by Kowalski's video camera as he travels a highway in Poland that was used as a main thoroughfare by the Nazis in their march to the Soviet Union. He frequently stops to speak with roadside salesman, workers, and prostitutes and talks to them about their lives and what they think of the road. The director's running narration relays his inner thoughts throughout his travels. Near Auschwitz, he speaks with locals about a controversial plan to open a disco in the town and various town members and teenagers express a mixture of respect for the tragedy that occurred, frustration at having to live amongst such a gloomy history, and indifference. Kowalski also meets an older gypsy man, who he takes to see some relatives and to visit an old work camp and observes the poverty, tradition, and clannish suspicion that rules the gypsy's lives. After visiting an abandoned Soviet military base, Kowalski finishes his journey at a political event opening a new portion of the highway. Through personal and sociological perspectives the film explores the legacies of the Nazi and Soviet occupations of the 20th century within Poland, but also addresses issues of historical scars and the way they effect mass populations within a larger context.