The Odessa File

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The Odessa File is a thriller by Frederick Forsyth, first published in 1972, about the adventures of a young German reporter attempting to discover the location of a former SS concentration-camp commander. The name ODESSA is an acronym for the German phrase “Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen”, which translates as “Organisation of Former Members of the SS”.

Directed by Ronald Neame. With Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell, Mary Tamm. Following the suicide of an elderly Jewish man, a journalist in possession of the man’s diary investigates the alleged sighting of a former S.S. Captain, who commanded a concentration camp during World War II.

On 22 November 1963, the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Peter Miller, a young freelance reporter in Hamburg, West Germany, pulls his car over to the curb to listen to a radio report of the event. As a result, he happens to be stopped at a traffic signal as an ambulance passes by on a highway.

He follows the ambulance and discovers it is en route to pick up the body of an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who had committed suicide, leaving behind no family. The reporter obtains the diary of the man, which contains information on his life in the Riga Ghetto during World War II, including the name of the SS officer who ran the camp, Eduard Roschmann.

Determined to hunt Roschmann down, Miller consults with Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal who informs him about ODESSA, a secret organization for former members of the SS.

With this information, and the help of Israeli secret agents based in Germany, Miller then dares to go undercover, using an assumed name and forged papers showing him as an SS veteran. He joins and infiltrates the ODESSA and finds Roschmann, who now runs a high-tech company which plans to send radio gyroscopes and chemical warheads to Egypt for use against Israel.

Filming was done on location in Hamburg, Germany; Salzburg, Austria; Heidelberg, Germany; Munich, Germany; at Pinewood Studios, England; and the Bavaria Studios in Grünwald, Bavaria, Germany. 

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