Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“White Courage”: This Polish film has not yet been released in cinemas, but it is already causing heated discussions!

“The figure of Wolfram von Kamitz, whom w ‘White Courage’ game Kuba Gierszałis inspired by a real person. Wolfram von Kamitz is actually Anton Plügel, an authentic anthropologist who conducted racial research in Podhale. They aroused fear among the highlanders, who were afraid that the Germans would take away their children if they turned out to be ‘valuable specimens’ with Nordic features,” he says. Łukasz M. Maciejewski, co-screenwriter of the film “White Courage”.

Plügel was fascinated by highlanders and their culture. He was a long-time member of the NSDAP. During the war, he was friends with the then director of the Tatra Museum, whom he protected from repression.

“At the end of the war, he was sent to defend Königsberg, which was a great tragedy for him because he had to leave Podhale. We know this from his letters, scientific works and documents that have survived to this day. Marcin (director – editor’s note) and I knew immediately that this was a character ‘up for grabs’ – a German who loves Polish highlanders. In addition, we knew from the beginning who could play him – Jakub Gierszał, who speaks German fluently,” adds Maciejewski.

Wolfram von Kamitz, played by Gierszał, is not only a valued scientist in the film “White Courage”, but also an admirer of the Tatra Mountains and mountain climbing.

“My character was based on a real Austrian-German scientist who researched race issues in Tibetan communities. This is another interesting aspect of this story and, unfortunately, still very relevant – people are capable of doing a lot, including many bad things, in the name of ideology. They are in “able to not only do a lot, but also endure a lot, forgive, justify, and even love. The film shows certain mechanisms in the world.”says Jakub Gierszał.

The German operation in Podhale, carried out in the years 1939-1944, consisted in an attempt to isolate the so-called highlander nationality as allegedly non-Polish. Goralenvolk was supposed to be one of the ways to destroy the national unity of Poles. The direct organizers of the action, conducted on behalf of the German authorities, were two residents of Zakopane: Witalis Wieder and Henryk Szatkowski. A group of activists from the pre-war Highlanders’ Association also cooperated with the Germans. The highlander “nationality” was distinguished during the census, special identity cards were issued (so-called highlander kenkartas), and an attempt was made to create a “highlander legion”. A small number of people were persuaded to cooperate – 18% of eligible people received their highlander ID cards.

For Łukasz M. Maciejewski, the screenwriter of “White Courage” and a historian by education, Goralenvolk was no secret. He knew it was a great idea for a film and teamed up with Marcin Koszałka.

“He is a documentarian who touches on sensitive, socially suppressed topics. One of our main motivations was the fact that such a story has never existed in Polish cinema. It is rare for us filmmakers to come across such a diamond – an area untouched by anyone. We would have to be “We’re crazy not to take on it,” said the co-writer of “White Courage.”

The end of the 1930s in Podhale. A mountaineer, a descendant of a highlander family, Jędrek Zawrat likes life on the edge. When he climbs, he chooses the most difficult paths, when he loves, he is ready to sacrifice everything. His chosen one is the beautiful Bronka. As a result of a family decision, the girl’s hand is given to the older of the Zawrat brothers, the staid Maciek. Jędrek leaves his hometown to seek oblivion among the Krakow bohemia.

On his way, the man meets a German scientist and mountaineer, Wolfram, who spreads the theory that the highlanders come from the ancient Germanic tribe of the Pragues. When war breaks out, the Germans offer cooperation to the inhabitants of Podhale. Maciej Zawrat – supported by many prominent families – strongly rejects this proposal. However, convinced by Wolfram, Jędrek, hoping to regain his beloved and save his community from the destruction of war, cooperates.

Starring: Filip Pławiak (“Chyłka”), Jakub Gierszał (“Best”), Sandra Drzymalska (“IO”), Julian Świeżewski (“Philip”), Adam Woronowicz (“In-laws”), Andrzej Konopka (“Peasants”) i Victoria Gorodecka (“Doppelgänger. Doppelgänger”). He co-wrote the script with the director Łukasz M. Maciejewski (“King”).

The film will be released in Polish cinemas on March 8, 2024. The distributor of the title is Monolith Films.