Robert Domes

Autor Journalist Ausbilder


Nebel im August - Fog in August

Awarded with the "Marion-Samuel-Award " 2010 of the Remembrance Foundation, with the Literary Award of the youth jury of the Mecklenburg Literary Society, with the Federal Merit Medal of the Association of the Yenish People in Germany, nominated for the Gustav Heinemann Peace Award

"Fog in August" is a sad story, but also one, that encourages. It shows how a little unwavering hero boldly opposes a misanthropic system with his modest means. The story of an outsider, a rascal, a dreamer, who longs for nothing else but security and comfort, respect and love.

Publisher's information:



In the summer of 1933 while millions in Germany were still lionizing their new leader, life was only getting worse for the Lossa family, Yenish nomads in southern Germany. Ernst Lossa, aged three, was the older son in the family. His father was an itinerant salesman moving his family from village to village by covered wagon in which they lived. It was a lifestyle of freedom which Ernst loved. But his father’s business was suffering because vagrants were increasingly being restricted and discriminated against by the Nazis. And then the birth of her fourth child exacerbated matters. Municipal authorities intervened and tore the family apart.

Thus began the long, slow descent into darkness of little Ernst’s life. He was sent to an orphanage where he was labeled as "the son of a Gypsy". His mother died, his father was taken to a concentration camp. And Ernst learned in that rough orphanage, how to survive by cheating and stealing as the only way to create and protect his own dream world. By seven years later, in 1940, the patience of the nuns in the orphanage had been worn completely thin by Ernst’s incorrigible thieving, and so at ten years old he was sent to a Nazi borstal. Ernst reacted very negatively to these new cold and brutal "training" methods and he was seen as uneducable. Finally a psychiatrist opined that Ernst was an abnormal youth incapable of functioning in a community and that he could not be changed. Now, in addition to being a gypsy, Ernst was also officially labeled an "antisocial psychopath".

In 1942 Ernst, now twelve, was sent to a lunatic asylum although he was not mentally ill. In the company of lunatics and paralyzed and mentally sick patients Ernst found what he had long been missing and longing for: a family.

He experienced security and friendship for the first time and he fell in love with a young fellow patient, a girl his own age. Soon, however, Ernst began to discover strange things happening beneath the facade of the institution. Patients were taken away to unknown destinations, never to return. Others were starving or dying for mysterious reasons. Relying on his big heart and courage Ernst slyly tried in small ways to subvert what he saw happening, while all the while dreaming of his early life of freedom back with his family in the traveling covered wagon. These dreams were shattered however when the girl he adores became a victim of the clandestine killings of patients. The darkness that had followed Ernst for years, now began to draw closer more rapidly. He began to realize he might be on the death list himself. But he did not recognise how close the threat really was.

In August of 1944, when the Nazis were realizing the war was lost, the death-nurse at the institution received the instruction: Ernst Lossa must be eliminated.



"Fog in August” is a biographical novel of the life of Ernst Lossa and is based on extensive historical research. Ernst Lossa was born in southern Germany in 1929, the son of itinerant gypsy traders. In 1933 the family became the victims of Nazi ideology and was rent asunder. Ernst was sent to an orphanage where he developed into a maladjusted boy. He was neither disabled nor mentally ill but nevertheless at the age of twelve he was sent to an insane asylum where he was eventually killed in August 1944 at the age of nearly 15. Ernst Lossa witnessed the rise and fall of Hitler’s Third Reich from a most unusual viewpoint: the very bottom of that society. He viewed it all, from the country roads, from inside an orphanage, a Nazi borstal, at last inside a lunatic asylum, that transforms into a major homicide institution.

To write the biography of a euthanasia victim who made such a difficult odyssey required considerable and specialized research. All of the stops along Ernst’s horrible journey were probed in depth. All surviving files, archives, contemporary witnesses and investigations at the original locations helped to draw the picture of the boy, his life, and of everyday life in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

"Fog in August” is based squarely on these absolutely accurate historical facts. But it is intentionally not a dry documentary. It’s fundamental objective is to breath life and vividness into the person that was Ernst Lossa, to tell the story from his point of view, and thereby give life and voice to one of the approximately 200,000 mostly unknown euthanasia victims similar to Ernst. To that end there are of course some fictional scenes, dialogues, actions and expression of feelings. These obviously are not historically documented but in all instances they are totally consistent with all of the known facts.

"Fog in August“ describes an individual fate that took place in southern Bavaria. But it is not a limited local story. All over Germany during this period there were mentally and physically disabled persons in similar asylums and institutions. With very few exceptions they all became victims of the Nazi euthanasia program. Some institutions tried to protect their patients and revealed them only with reluctance. Others were aggressively proactive as executioners of death sentences, and some even took initiatives beyond immediate obedience of the orders of the Berlin euthanasia headquarters. In summary, this book portrays a system that was endemic throughout Germany.

Finally, the book illuminates an important aspect of Nazi crimes that is not widely known. The "euthanasia murders" were the trial für the Holocaust. On the one hand the homicide methods were "tested" to the patients, particularly the use of poison gas. On the other hand specialists were trained in the killing institutions as mass murders. Many of the participants of the "euthanasia program" were later deployed in the extermination camps. So it can be said that the "euthanasia crimes" were the predecessor of the systematic mass murder of the Jews and others.

"Fog in August" is a sad story, but also one that arouses and encourages. It shows how a small, unflinching hero with his extremely modest means fought against a horrible and evil system. It is the history of an outsider, a rascal, of yearnings and love. A story, that is touching, winking, funny, tragic – and most of all true.


The author:

Robert Domes, born in 1961, studied political science and communication. He subsequently became a newspaper journalist. Then he worked for 15 years as a newspaper editor, toward the end of which period he was the head of the newsrooms of two newspapers. In 2002 he began writing as an investigative journalist and as an author. He now writes for various media outlets, teaches advanced courses for journalists, and organizes and directs art and theater projects. He spent five years researching the story of Ernst Losssa.


The movie:

In summer of 2015 the principal photography for the motion picture film "Fog in August" started in Germany and Austria. The movie, based on Robert Domes' historical novel, was released in September 2016. It is the first feature film to address one of the greatest taboos of German history – the Nazis' euthanasia program during the Third Reich. Prior to the release the movie has already been awarded for several national and international prizes.

Production report of the movie: