By Jeff Labrecque
August 08, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT

What if Rick Blaine and Victor Laszlo had been captured by the Nazis in Casablanca? That’s the essential dynamic of Austrian director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Oscar-winning morality play The Counterfeiters about concentration camp inmates forced to counterfeit millions of dollars and pounds for a Nazi plot to crash the Allied economies. Sally (Karl Markovics) is a ”most charming scoundrel,” willing to trade his forgery skills for temporary survival. Adolf Burger (August Diehl) is the stubborn idealist who risks everything to sabotage the scam. The most fascinating character, though, is their Nazi overseer (Devid Striesow), a bourgeois bureaucrat who actually believes a kind word and a Ping-Pong table can negate the inmates’ plight and the hellish reality beyond the walls of the ”Golden Cage” barrack. The real Burger, now 91, stars in several DVD extras, detailing his ”privileged” life in the camp’s counterfeiting unit — ”We were dead men on holiday; we never expected to walk away alive” — and explaining his mission never to let the world forget the Nazis’ crimes. ”What has happened exceeds the imagination of a normal person,” he says in an interview. ”The Nazis were not only murderers but also ordinary criminals.” His tale, in the hands of Ruzowitzky, is the culmination of a beautiful friendship. A-

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