Let Us Die

An old desk from an estate sale and a chance meeting with Hollywood star unlock one of the final untold stories from World War II and exposes war crimes committed by Russian soldiers decades ago.

As a young man, Tim Mallad discovered a collection of old German letters from World War II hidden inside a secret compartment of an antique desk that he purchased at an estate sale. Years later, during a random encounter with the actress Jane Seymour, she encourages Tim to get the letters translated.

But he was not prepared for what they revealed. The letters explain how, in the final days of the war, thousands of innocent German families took their own lives in fear of what the conquering Soviets would do to them.

Then, in heartbreaking detail, these letters document the intimate last moments of one German family – a mother, father and their 13-year-old daughter. Their conversation, written word-for-word by a refugee who lived with them, hauntingly recounts the girl begging her father to end their lives with cyanide capsules before Russian soldiers return to rape her and her mother again.

Determined not to let this story slip through the passage of time, Tim Mallad tracks down that family’s last living relative who now lives in Atlanta and together they travel to Germany to retrace what happened.

  • Jason Whitely
  • Taylor Lumsden
  • Jason Whitely
  • Jason Whitely
  • Taylor Lumsden
  • Jane Seymour
    Key Cast
  • Tim Mallad
    Key Cast
  • Frank Pringham
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 13 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 17, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    Germany, Poland, United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital Sony FS5
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jason Whitely, Taylor Lumsden

Jason Whitely, right, is a journalist based in Dallas, Texas. He has won 24 regional Emmy Awards. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from Western Kentucky University. Jason loves exploring new places having visited 180 cities in more than 30 countries on six continents.

Taylor Lumsden, left, is a photojournalist based in Dallas, Texas. As a former news photographer, now in a corporate position for a major U.S. airline, Taylor has traveled from coast-to-coast and to four countries to tell stories. Taylor has a degree in Radio, TV and Film from the University of North Texas.

But their hearts always lay in longer-form storytelling that is not often conducive to the daily deadlines of broadcast journalism.

In 2022, the first-time filmmakers completed this project on their own time, which lies far outside the traditional scope of television news.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The world has read with horror what Russian soldiers are doing to women and girls in Ukraine right now.

But most people alive today know nothing about war crimes committed by another generation of Russian soldiers. Official history never recorded what happened in 1945.

Old letters and photographs guided us as we retraced the tragic story of one innocent German family during the final days of World War II.

This mother, father and 13-year-old daughter were forced to make an unimaginable decision after suffering brutality in their own home at the hands of conquering Russians.

What's also unique about this project is that the Jews in this story survived that war while their innocent gentile loved ones did not. Their survival is the only way we know what happened.

We wanted to make this film to expose the human cost of war and show that Russian soldiers have a history of terrorizing innocent civilians.

We also hope this documentary recognizes one young soul, the 13-year-old girl who is immortalized in the letters, for making such a courageous decision.