Arts and Culture | Local

WWII film echoes role of Tucsonan’s parents

A scene from “Walking with the Enemy,’ directed by Mark Schmidt (Courtesy Liberty Studios)

The Tucson International Jewish Film Festival and the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona will present a free screening of “Walking with the Enemy” on Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

Tucsonan I. Michael Kasser will introduce the film, which is set in Hungary during World War II and stars Jonas Armstrong, Ben Kingsley and Hannah Tointon.

“‘Walking with the Enemy’ is about the Swiss Red Cross’ activity in the last year of WW ll. Switzerland was neutral, as was Sweden. The Swedish Red Cross was also active, and my father was its secretary (COO). When I saw ‘Walking,’ I was struck by the parallels to the stories my parents told me about that time. I still have copies, co-signed by my father, of the ‘Schutzpass’ the Swedish Red Cross handed out to Jews who had some connection to Sweden,” says Kasser.

His parents, Alexander and Elisabeth Kasser, worked with Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped rescue as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution. Alexander was the director of the Swedish Red Cross in Hungary and Elisabeth served as an interpreter for Wallenberg. In 1996, Alexander was honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, and in 2000, the Kassers were honored with the Raoul Wallenberg Award by the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States.