The Danube Exodus

The Danube Exodus Péter Forgács. Hidden Histories
From 1st to 27th October | online on MyMovies

It’s 1938 and Hitler expands his influence on Austria and Czechoslovakia: the Czechoslovakian puppet government wuickly turns anti-Semitic and Aron Grünhut, president of the Jew Orthodox community in Bratislava, arranges for the escape of about 900 Jews on two ships: one of this is the Queen Elizabeth. The entire trip, with its cargo of displaced people from Bratislava to the Black Sea along the Danube, is recorded by captain Nándor Andrásovits who keeps his “ship log” with an amateur camera. 

On another ship, the Noemi Julia, the travellers will get to their final destination: Palestine. Meanwhile, Hitler signs the treaty  for the alliance with Stalin; the agreement between the two countries establishes the transfer of a part of Romania (the Bessarabia) to the Soviet Union. The German people living there must be repatriated to Germany, and the Nazi headquarters rents the Queen Elizabeth to bring back in the homeland the German citizens. On the deck of that vey ship, two people’s destinies cross: the drama of people forced to live their land to make room for History’s reasons. 

The archive images recovered and edited by Forgács outline a journey halfway from the biblical exodus and the lightheartedness of an unexpected adventure. The faces, in front of Andrásovitz’s camera, open up with a smile, curious. The films fix the moments of carefreeness: a wedding, dances on the deck, someone sunbathing, the beauty of girls. It’s the landscape images, instead, that outline a universe made of water and sky, space of the mythological tale in which to renew the walk toward the promised land. And it is Tibor Szemzö to dig into the images and to resurface the feeling of nostalgia and the pain for a lost homeland. In  The Danube Exodus, the exodus becomes the key concept to understand the story of World War II and to read the identity of the Jewish people.


Péter Forgács

running time


film format

video | B&W and colour




The Netherlands


Tibor Szemzö