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Nazi propaganda: anti-Polish

Film | Digitized | Accession Number: 1995.147.1 | RG Number: RG-60.0903 | Film ID: 33

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    Nazi propaganda: anti-Polish


    This feature film opens in the German village of Emilienthal in the Polish district of Luzk in March 1939 as Polish authorities close a German school to turn it into a military police post. The teacher Maria Thomas constantly complains to the Polish mayor. Other Germans are angry about higher taxes for ethnic Germans and growing expropriations of land and houses. Maria's husband refuses to sing the Polish anthem and he is beaten up by Polish thugs who are said to thrive for the 'annihilation of...German pigs'. He dies because the police and the hospitals refuse to help Germans at all. Maria's father is shot and blinded in a Polish ambush. A German woman is stoned to death by Poles. After listening to Hitler's radio address on September 1, 1939 promising to take action against the Polish government because of harassment against the German minority, hundreds of Germans are arrested and imprisoned in inhumane conditions. Polish plans to kill all of the prisoners are disrupted as German warplanes shell the prison and German tanks invade the town. In the final scene, covered wagons travel "heim in ein neues, starkes Reich" [home into a new and powerful Reich] passing a German border sign and a huge picture of Hitler, while the German national anthem plays in the background.

    This Austrian film addresses the situation of ethnic and cultural minorities living in the newly established multi-ethnic states of Central Europe after the Versailles Treaty as well as the practice of 'resettling' ethnic Germans living in Soviet-occupied territory to Germany as agreed upon in the secret Ribbentrop-Molotov-Agreement of August 23, 1939. Here, the German minority in Volhynia (Eastern Poland) is depicted as clinging to its German heritage in language and culture despite living outside the boundaries of Germany for 250 years. Aggressive Polish nationalism leads to growing persecution and denial of rights for these Volksdeutsche [ethnic Germans]. As a result, the minority develops even stronger bonds with their people and homeland, climaxing in their "Heimkehr" [coming home] to Germany. As early as December 1939, Goebbels conceived of producing a feature film about the Volhynian Germans. This "Staatsauftragsfilm" [film commissioned by the state] premiered on August 31, 1941 at the Biennale in Venice and was awarded a prize. After passing censorship on August 26, 1941 the movie publicly premiered in Vienna on October 10, 1941 distinguished as "Film der Nation" [Film of the Nation], "staatspolitisch und kuenstlerisch besonders wertvoll" [state-politically and artistically especially valuable] and "jugendwert" [of worth for the youth). Despite the broad press campaign orchestrated by Goebbels the movie's estimated loss was 423,000 RM with production costs of 4,020 million RM. It was screened to audiences of ethnic Germans and resettlers in occupied parts of Poland and in the Generalgouvernement with more positive results. Furthermore it was shown to welcoming audiences in the Netherlands and Japan.
    Event:  1939 March
    Production:  1941
    Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv
    Director: Gustav Ucicky
    Producer: Erich Messner
    Producer: UFA distribution
    Camera Operator: Guenther Anders

    Physical Details

    Feature. Propaganda.
    B&W / Color
    Black & White
    Image Quality
    Time Code
    03:00:00:00 to 04:06:16:00
    Film Format
    • Master
    • Master 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Master 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Master 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Master 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
    • Preservation
    • Preservation 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Preservation 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Preservation 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large
      Preservation 33 Video: Betacam SP - NTSC - large

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    You do not require further permission from the Museum to access this archival media.
    Federal Republic of Germany. Bundesarchiv.
    Conditions on Use
    Researchers who wish to use this footage should contact the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv at to sign a release, or submit the online request form at:

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Film Provenance
    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum purchased this from the Imperial War Museum in London in May 1995.
    Length of entire film: 94 minutes. The film was shot from January 2, 1941 to June 1941 in Vienna and in Chorzele (Generalgouvernement). A descriptive and interpretative scene protocol with many still images of the movie can be found in Trimmel, Gerald. Heimkehr. Strategien eines nationalsozialistischen Films (Wien 1998), pp. 71-136. Censorship number: 55.978

    Other credits:
    Script: Gerhard Menzel
    Music: Willy Schmidt-Gentner
    Cast: Paula Wessely as Maria Thomas, Attila Hoerbiger as Ludwig Launhard, Peter Petersen as Dr. Thomas, Ruth Hellberg as Martha Launhardt, Elsa Wagner as midwife, Berta Drews as Elfriede, Gerhild Weber as Josepha Manz, Carl Raddatz as Dr. Fritz Mutius, Otto Wernicke as Old Manz, Werner Fuetterer as Oskar Friml, Eduard Koeck as Herr Schmid, Hermann Erhardt as Karl Michalek, Franz Pfaudler as Balthasar Manz, Eugen Preiss as the Jewish trader Salomonsohn, Heinz Engelmann, Andrews Engelmann

    The Austrian Gustav Ucicky also directed "Fluechtlinge" ["Refugees"] from 1933-34 depicting the heroic struggle of Volga Germans against their Slav oppressors and was banned from work as a film director from 1945 until 1947. The Austrian Paula Wessely was awarded the title Staatsschauspielerin [actress of the state] in 1938, she was banned from work as an actress 1945 to 1946. Most of the Polish characters were played by Polish actors, who were tried for treason and collaboration with the enemy in Warsaw in 1948.

    See Film and Video departmental files for more documentation and a summary of the film. See Story 903, Film ID 33 for the continuation of this film.
    Film Source
    Imperial War Museums
    File Number
    Legacy Database File: 2254
    Source Archive Number: GWY 509 R4-10
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:55:09
    This page:

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