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Idealized picture of Prussia to garner German support for total war

Film | Digitized | Accession Number: 1994.121.1 | RG Number: RG-60.1193 | Film ID: 979

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    Idealized picture of Prussia to garner German support for total war


    Reel 2 opens inside a busy cafe, where Mayor Nettelbeck discusses Napoleon with two other men. Young Claus, the son of Nettlebeck's close friend Werner, hands Nettlebeck a proclamation in which Napoleon claims that he wants only to secure peace and prosperity in Europe. Nettelbeck is the only one of the three who thinks that Prussia should attempt to stand up to Napoleon. Back to the festival, where Nettelbeck's goddaughter Maria (Claus's sister) breaks off her dance to join Nettelbeck and her father inside their farmhouse. Nettelbeck tells Maria that he worries about her brother, who has been to music school in Strasbourg and has no interest in being a farmer. The talk turns to the war -- although Nettelbeck knows nothing of the safety of Maria's brother Friedrich, he has learned that Prussia has been attacked by Napoleon's army and that the Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand has died in battle.

    The next scene takes place in Potsdam, where Napoleon visits the tomb of Frederick the Great. Back in Kolberg, Friedrich rides into town with a contingent of other soldiers. He greets Maria and his father. Friedrich's commander is Schill, who will become Maria's love interest. Werner invites the soldiers into his house. In the next scene Nettelbeck challenges the authority of Lucadou, the commandant of the city. Nettelbeck tells Lucadou that he is requisitioning food supplies from the military to share with the civilian population. He further questions the placement of the warehouses where the food is stored. The scene changes to find Schill, accompanied by Maria, inspecting the town's defenses. He finds that the cannons are rusted out and says, "Children, children. You will make it easy for Napoleon." To which Maria replies, "That's what Nettelbeck always says!" She asks Schill to stay and help her town. The next scene takes place in the farmhouse, where Maria sits at a loom while Schill, Werner and Friedrich talk. Schill attempts to stand but, weakened from his wounds, he falls down, as the sound of Claus's violin comes from overhead. Maria rushes upstairs to silence her brother, who responds callously. The following scene shows Maria and Schill walking on the beach and talking intimately. Maria worries about the war and about Schill's safety and at the end of the scene she kisses him.

    The next scene finds Lucadou sitting in his office. A subordinate informs him that the civilians are drilling in the market square, so he looks out the window to see Schill and Nettelbeck instructing the uniformed civilians. Lucadou yells down that the civilians should go home and leave off playing at being soldiers. The conversation between Schill and Lucadou that follows reprises the theme: the civilian population must be mobilized and fully involved in the war effort. Schill states that the rescue of the fatherland lies in the hands of the citizens. He gives a stirring speech about the Kolbergers. Lucadou belittles the idea that the war might reach as far as their town. The next scenes show shots of Maria weaving and singing interspersed with shots of the simple, happy people of Kolberg going about their lives. Snow begins to fall, signifying that the season is passing into winter.
    Film Title
    Production:  1945
    Accessed at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Library of Congress
    Director: Veit Harlan
    Script Contributor: Veit Harlan
    Script Contributor: Alfred Braun
    Producer: Wilhelm Sperber
    Producer: UFA
    Camera Operator: Bruno Mondi
    Music: Norbert Schultze

    Physical Details

    B&W / Color
    Image Quality
    Time Code
    11:11:04:00 to 11:31:07:00
    Film Format
    • Master
    • Master 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Master 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Master 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Master 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
    • Preservation
    • Preservation 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Preservation 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Preservation 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - NTSC - large
      Preservation 979 Video: Betacam SP - color - 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 the films from the Library of Congress in October 1994.
    Also known as: "Burning Hearts" (USA), "Entsagung" (Switzerland), "Brinnande Hjaertan" (Sweden).
    The film was shot from October 22, 1943 until August 1944 in Ufa-city Babelsberg, Berlin and environs, Kolberg, Koenigsberg.
    Further distinctions: "staatspolitisch und kuenstlerisch besonders wertvoll" [state-politically and artistically especially valuable]; "kulturell wertvoll" [culturally valuable]; "volkstuemlich wertvoll" [folks valuable]; "anerkennenswert" [creditable]; "volksbildend" [educating the people]; "jugendwert" [of value for the youth].
    The film also screened in Berlin, Breslau, Danzig, and Hamburg.

    The movie was re-released completely 1965 by Erwin Leiser under the title "30. Januar 1945 (Kolberg)" ["30th January 1945 (Kolberg)"] with an added commentary, scenes from speeches by Goebbels, and the entire Deutsche Wochenschau [German weekly newsreel] 3/1945, but was withdrawn shortly thereafter.

    Kolberg was evacuated on March 21, 1945 by the German troops and is today the Polish city of Kolobrzeg.

    Actors: Heinrich George (Mayor Nettelbeck), Kristina Soederbaum (Maria), Paul Wegener (Colonel Loucadou), Horst Casper (General Gneisenau), Gustav Diessl (Lieutenant Schill), Otto Wernicke (peasant Werner), Irene von Meyendorff (the Queen), Kurt Meisel (Claus), Jasper von Oertzen (Prince Ludwig Ferdinand), Jakob Tiedtke (Reeder), Hans Herrmann Schaufuss (Zaufke), Paul Bildt (school principal), Franz Schafheitlin (Fanselow), Charles Schauten (Napoleon), Heinz Lausch (Friedrich), Claus Clausen (King Friedrich Wilhelm III), Joseph Dahmen (Franz), Franz Herterich (Emperor Franz II), Greta Schroeder-Wegener (Miss von Voss), Fritz Hoopts (Timm), Werner Scharf (General Teulié), Theo Schall (General Loison), Herbert Klatt, Margarete Schoen, Inge Drexel, Paul Henckels, André Saint-Germain, Betty Wald, Herbert A.E. Boehme
    Actress Kristina Soederbaum was the wife of director Veit Harlan.

    Beside some scenes missing at the end of Film ID 979 (between the French attack on the farm and its deliberate burning) there does not seem to be a 40 minute gap. However, the USHMM holds only 110 minutes out of 146 minutes in approximate length. See Stories 1192-1197, Film ID 979 and 980. See Film and Video departmental files for additional documentation and a summary of the film.

    Kolberg is a Prussian city on the Baltic coast that was besieged by Napoleon's victorious army in the Franco-Prussian War in 1806-1807. Under the command of the patriotic Mayor Nettelbeck, ordinary citizens prepare to set up a civilian militia while the local army commander Colonel von Lucadou plans to surrender. With the help of the young General von Gneisenau, the people's army succeeds in holding their city despite heavy shelling. This film was produced in 1944 during the last stages of the war. With this "Durchhaltefilm" [film to keep up the spirit], based on a highly idealized picture of Prussia, Goebbels hoped to convince Germany's population to engage in total war and fight to the finish. Goebbels believed that only complete mobilization of the civilian population could keep Germany from being defeated.

    In the war years, the depiction of obedient heroism and unconditional self-sacrifice generally shifted from the Hitler Youth or SA-man towards the soldier and brave citizen. By exaggerating the audacious defense of a German city by its own citizens, this historical drama was intended to strengthen the bond between battlefront and home front. After preliminary plans going back as far as 1940, Goebbels ordered this "Staatsauftragsfilm" [movie commissioned by the state] from Veit Harlan in June 1943 and he instructed Harlan to spare no expense in its production. Although the prologue claims that the film was "based on historical facts," at several points historical evidence is distorted, most strikingly by turning the actual final surrender of Kolberg into a fictitious victory. Goebbels intervened several times to change the script on his favorite movie project especially by cutting demoralizing battle scenes and rewriting speeches. The speeches of Gneisenau in parts closely resemble Goebbels' own speech of February 18, 1943 on total war: "Volk steh auf, Sturm brich los!", which itself was based on a 1813 poem of Theodor Koerner, a martyr of Prussia's wars of liberation. In the strong belief that this epic movie would be more important for the outcome of the war than any military action, Goebbels stripped the war machine of several thousand soldiers, six thousand horses, and one hundred rail cars for the massive battle and other scenes, all while the Soviet army was approaching German borders. Production costs amounted to RM 8.8 million. After passing censorship on January 26, 1945, this last feature film of the Third Reich premiered on January 30, 1945 simultaneously in Berlin and the besieged fortress of La Rochelle. Whereas the movie was screened for only a few days (mostly to Nazi party officials) due to the continuing bombings of German cities, it received no less than six awards and the honorary accolade "Film der Nation" [movie of the nation].
    Copied From
    35mm; Agfacolor
    Film Source
    Library of Congress - Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS)
    File Number
    Legacy Database File: 2576
    Source Archive Number: FGC 4051
    Record last modified:
    2024-02-21 07:55:03
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