(Staatenlos – Klaus Rózsa, Fotograf)
Gösgen 1977: Tear gas against anti-nuclear protesters (Photo: Klaus Rózsa)
A film by Erich Schmid
Switzerland 2016, DCP, Dolby SR-D, 96 mins.
Klaus Rózsa, who fled Hungary in 1956, was stateless for political reasons for over 40 years. The police persecuted him as a unionist, a foreigner, a left-wing journalist and, covertly, as a Jew. A biopic on freedom of the press in conjunction with the political movements of recent decades in Switzerland.
Klaus Rózsa, a politically active photographer, lived in Zurich for decades as a stateless individual. All of his applications for naturalisation were refused on political grounds. In 1956 he fled Hungary, growing up in Switzerland with a Jewish father who had survived Auschwitz. Due to the extreme proximity of such a fate, the camera led him close to places where injustice was done. It was this particular quality of his camerawork that proved fateful for him. State Security writes: “By recording police abuse, he interfered with the work of the police.” – An extraordinary biopic about the political movements in the last decades.
Klaus Rózsa, a well-known and politically active photographer, lived as a stateless individual in Zurich for decades. Each of his applications for naturalisation, of which there were three, was refused on political grounds. “He disrupts police work by taking photographs of police abuse,” reads his state security file. Marked by the fate of his Jewish father, who survived the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Dachau, Klaus Rózsa battles injustice within the state. During the Youth Protests of the ’80s, he both reached for the megaphone and simultaneously photographed altercations in the street. Later he fought for media freedom in Switzerland, and, in spite of his position as union president and member of the press council, was so often harassed and beaten by the police that in 2008 he emigrated to Budapest. It had been from there that, at the age of two, he, his parents and sister, Olga, had fled for Switzerland in 1956. But in the interim, racism and anti-Semitism had become socially acceptable in Hungary. Klaus once again demonstrated against this, appearing in Budapest by the side of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and also explaining to Swiss school groups about Carl Lutz, the long-ostracised Swiss Consul, who saved 60'000 Hungarian Jews during the Second World War. It was at the Budapest monument to Lutz that he met the consul’s daughter, Agnes Hirschi, who for years has been campaigning for the reputation and honouring of her father.