Ashcan: The Secret Prison (Free Screening)


From May to August 1945, 72 top Nazi officials were secretly imprisoned in the former Palace Hotel in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. The prison was so secure that even its guards were unaware of whom it housed. Once inside the hotel, code-named Ashcan, in preparation for the upcoming Nuremberg trials, American interrogators who spoke both English and German tried to learn as much as possible about the Nazi hierarchy. They did so by asking the officials to talk about themselves, their families and then their work as members of the Nazi regime. While the Americans were quizzing the Nazi officials, Allied soldiers were learning more and more about the extent of the Hitler regime’s atrocities. They found that the Nazis had built not only concentration camps, but also extermination camps.

In 2017, the National Theatre of Luxembourg performed the play Codename Ashcan, co-written by Willy Perelsztejn. As in real life, actors spoke both English and German. By showing play rehearsals rather than the final performance, documentary director Perelsztejn helps us learn, as the actors do, about individual Nazi leaders and their petty rivalries. In addition, extensive interviews with interrogator John Dolibois, who later became U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, as well as archival footage, bring this barely known but important event to vivid life. —Sara L. Rubin

All screenings are free and open to the public. Ticket still required

Legal counsel prior to producing award-winning documentaries, in Belgium and Luxemburg, Willy Perelsztejn is the founder and director of Les Films de la Mémoire (Belgium) and Nowhere Land Productions (Luxemburg). For the last 30 years, Perelsztejn has been writing, directing and producing documentaries with a focus around three themes: history, memory and identity. Ashcan is his second film as director after David Susskind - Story of a Mensch (2007).

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