Synopsis by Mark Deming
Acclaimed filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff directed this story of a war of words between a Nazi soldier and a man of the cloth. In 1942, Henri Kremer (Ulrich Matthes) is a Catholic priest who, like three thousand other Catholic clergymen, has been sent to the Dachau prison camp by Nazi authorities for espousing his faith and speaking out against the Axis leadership. Shortly after Kremer receives word that his mother has passed away, he's pulled from the ranks at the camp and sent to Luxembourg, where he used to live and lead a congregation. While Kremer at first believes his well-connected family has arranged for his release, he soon finds this is not the case -- Untersturmfuehrer Gebhardt (August Diehl), a ranking member of the Gestapo, informs Kremer that he's been given a nine-day respite from the camp for a special assignment. Kremer is well acquainted with Bishop Philipp (Hilmar Thate), leader of Luxembourg's Catholic community, and the Nazis want the bishop to sign a letter pledging full cooperation with German authorities, something he has been unwilling even to discuss. Gebhardt wants Kremer to persuade the bishop to sign the document; if Kremer fails to meet this goal, he's told 18 priests from Luxembourg currently in Dachau will all be killed. What Gebhardt prefers not to mention is that if he can't find a way to secure the bishop's cooperation, he'll be transferred from his comfortable post to a death camp in Eastern Europe. Der Neunte Tag was based on the true story of Luxembourg priest Father Jean Bernard, who wrote of his experiences in the book Pfarrerblock Z4587.
bishop, Christianity, concentration-camp, conscience, deal [agreement], faith, Gestapo, moral-conflict, Nazi, priest, resistance, soldier