Directed and co-written by Ashley Eakin, ‘Forgive Us Our Trespasses’ is a short film that illustrates the horrific way disabled individuals were hunted down back in Nazi Germany. Set in 1939, it follows a young boy — Peter Weber (Knox Gibson) — with a limb difference as he finds himself on the run to try and save his life, only to realize that he’d have to fight to turn things around. This Netflix original drama is thus incredibly dark, yet it also pulls on the heartstrings for more reasons than one. So now, let’s find out whether it’s based on a true story or not, shall we?
Is Forgive Us Our Trespasses Based on a True Story?
‘Forgive Us Our Trespasses’ could likely be partially based on a true story. After all, there might not be any records of someone named Peter Weber in such a situation, but there were countless others like the character to be targeted by German officials. It didn’t make a difference if they were children or adults; they were all subjected to this brutality from the late-1930s to the mid-1940s because of Adolf Hitler’s dream to change the genetic make-up of the world. He saw disabilities, or rather anything unfamiliar to him, as a negative and chose to wipe it off the face of the Earth.
As the short film specifies, Hitler established the Aktion T4 program for this exact purpose, giving orders for people with disabilities to be involuntarily euthanized after being taken into custody. Psychiatric hospitals and church-run asylums were the two central locations where these mass murders were supposedly first carried out, predating the start of the Holocaust by roughly two years. His exact reasonings behind this demand are unclear, but there are speculations that, apart from restoring the “integrity” of the country, saving money was also a significant factor.
The movie did touch upon the latter by highlighting the reality of how taking care of a “person with a hereditary disease” costs more through a math lesson. Yet, it even clarified that killing them was not “productive” or “humane.” In the end, though, by 1945, nearly 300,000 disabled individuals were heinously murdered under the secret Aktion T4 program, and an additional 400,000 were positively sterilized. As if that wasn’t enough, its implementation is also what led to the development of the gas chamber technology used in the concentration camps during World War II.
There’s a reason the title of this short is ‘Forgive Us Our Trespasses’ — a line directly picked up from a Bible prayer; it’s to accentuate that forgiveness is what matters above all, even in times of necessary resistance. The inclusion of the belief that the value of a life can not be calculated in any way, shape, or form through Peter’s eyes further brings out actual concepts that have especially been discussed a lot over the past couple of years.
Thus, when that gets combined with the image of Nazi Germany, it’s evident that even though this Netflix original might not be the word-to-word retelling of someone’s tale, it is most likely inspired by real-life events. It represents a part of history that many often forget, one that forces us to reconsider what truly counts in life.
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