The Art of Resistance

Károly Koffán’s Open School of Art

On the resistance of Budapest’s artists during World War II
Laurent Kruppa

“Will it reoccur? I thought about it over and over again, but there is only one fact:
that we shall be conscious of our acts for which we have to take responsibility.”

André Mészaros (Paris 2004, freely translated), 1924–2006,
posthumously honored as “Righteous among the Nations”.

Diese Seite in Deutsch


Károly Koffán

A circle of artists in Budapest emerged around the Koffán school, whose members stood up vehemently against the mass crimes perpetrated by the Nazis at the end of WW II in Hungary. They forged papers, hid a multitude of Jewish people and, later, even had access to Swedish and Swiss “Schutzpässe” (safety passes), which they distributed at the risk of their lives.

The members of the group did not disclose their activities. For the first time, after more than 60 years, students who were either rescuers or rescued during the war, have publicly spoken out in front of our camera. In order to realize this ambitious project, we need your support.


Printable Documents (PDF)

Exposé for the documentary

deutsch   english   français






approx. 60 min.

Camera format


Final format

PAL 16:9


English, German, French, Hungarian


The main shooting is complete. Additional shooting seven days in Berlin, Budapest, Tel Aviv.


Budapest, Tel Aviv, Paris, Berlin

Material volume

approx. 50 hours plus photos, scans, etc.

Time frame for post-production

Juni–November 2009



Created & Produced by

Laurent Kruppa

Written by

Laurent Kruppa, Veronika Lábas

Directed by

Laurent Kruppa


Max von Matthiessen

Cut & Editing

Veronika Lábas

Scientific Advisor

Samuel Esam Schidem

Movie Music

Moritz Ecker

Sound & Mixing

Volker Wendisch

Post-Production Coordinator

Florian Gradmann

Grading & Compositing

Timor Kardum & Jeremias Steinmann (omgraphix)



“The Art of Resistance: Károly Koffán’s Open School of Art” is a documentary about a circle of resistance in Budapest, which mainly comprised of artists and their students.

The only known photo of Koffán’s Open School of Art, taken on the third floor of the building. During Budapest’s liberation, the school was destroyed under Soviet air raids. Today the Kempiniski Hotel is located in its place at Erzsébet tér 7.

On March 20th,1944, the German Wehrmacht occupied Hungary in order to prevent its confederates from changing sides to the allied forces. When Adolf Eichman arrived in Budapest, the systematic murder of Hungarian Jews began. In response to the occupation, Károly Koffán organized the resistance so that he could protect persecuted Jews. The group emerges around a private school of drawing and painting, founded and conducted by Károly Koffán. The art school was located in the center of Budapest, in the government district Erzsébet ter 7. People from all social circles regularly met at night at the school, including artists, intellectuals, communists, clerks and officers. The most prominent members of the group were Károly Koffán and his colleague Lajos Szentiványi. For our movie project, we interviewed, among others, Koffán’s former students László Ridovics and André Mészáros, who actively took part in the group. We also interviewed former Jewish students Edith Weinberger and Klára (Claire) Szilárd.

Using their creative skills, Koffán and Szentiványi forged papers, completing stolen blank documents and imitating official stamps. They also organized hiding places by implementing a rotating system, including a hospital, which today belongs to Semmelweis University. People slept in the school’s classrooms overnight, leaving the premises before classes began. Young students sometimes then accompanied them to their next hiding places. The students also brought food into the ghetto or liberated Jews by presentating themselves as soldiers, even though they had recently deserted the army.

One survivor is the father of Amos Biederman, a cartoonist for the Israeli Haaretz and one of Koffán’s former students, who survived thanks to Koffan. With the help of forged documents, the Koffán group could move relatively freely in Budapest. Later on, the artists distributed Swedish and Swiss “Schutzpässe” (safety passes) to the Jewish community, which indirectly came from Carl Lutz and Raoul Wallenberg. Lászlo Ridovics, a former student of the group who still lives today, searched as far as he could for people in the death marches who distributed the safety passes, The Germans generally accepted the passes issued according to international law, and released the pass holders. In spite of numerous raids, nearly every member of the artist group survived.

The Koffán group was most widely unknown to the public until our project. The aim of our project is to deliver insight into the actions of the Koffán group of artists, whose members knew how to distinguish between right and wrong in the darkest era of humanity and were willing to rescue their friends and strangers, even at the risk of their own lives.

Present Promoters and Supporters

Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Berlin       omgraphix       FOX AUTORENT HUNGARY


Das Dokumentarfilmprojekt bietet Ihrer Organisation bzw. Ihrem Unternehmen die Möglichkeit über uns öffentlich präsent zu werden. Unterstützen Sie diese „gute Sache“ mit einer finanziellen oder sachlichen Spende. Mit Ihrem Engagement tragen Sie zur Realisierung des Films „Die Kunst des Widerstands“ bei, für dessen erfolgreichen Abschluss wir auf Ihre Hilfe angewiesen sind.

We welcome your donations!

We began our film project in 2004 and have financed it entirely on our own. To support our project, please send your donation to:

Bank Details

Account Holder

Laurent Kruppa

Account №

689 343 101


Postbank Berlin

German BLZ

100 100 10


DE15 1001 0010 0689 3431 01





Laurent Kruppa · Production, Script, Direction
Silbersteinstr. 126, D-12045 Berlin

Max von Matthiessen · Camera

Veronika Lábas · Script, Cut & Editing

Samuel Esam Schidem · Scientific Advisor

Moritz Ecker · Movie Music

Florian Gradmann · Post-Production Coordinator

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