Hans Westmar

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Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929
Directed by Franz Wenzler
Produced by Robert Ernst
Written by Hanns Heinz Ewers
Starring Emil Lohkamp
Paul Wegener
Music by Giuseppe Becce
Ernst Hanfstaengl
Cinematography Franz Weihmayr
Edited by Alice Ludwig
Distributed by Siegel-Monopolfilm
Release dates
  • December 13, 1933 (1933-12-13)
Running time 132 minutes
Country Nazi Germany
Language German

Hans Westmar (full title: Hans Westmar. Einer von vielen. Ein deutsches Schicksal aus dem Jahre 1929 "Hans Westmar. One of many. A German Fate from the Year 1929") was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the Nazis shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating their Kampfzeit – the history of their period in opposition, struggling to gain power. The film is a partially fictionalized biography of the Nazi martyr Horst Wessel.

Development[edit]

Originally, the film, based on Hanns Heinz Ewers's novelistic biography, was named Horst Wessel. Goebbels temporarily banned it, eventually allowing its release with alterations and with the main character's name changed to the fictional "Hans Westmar".[1] One reason may have been to avoid "de-mystifying" Wessel.[2] Part of the problem was that authentic depiction of Stormtroopers, including picking fights with Communists, did not fit the more reasonable tone the Nazis adopted while in power, and would undermine Volksgemeinschaft; the fictionalized Westmar, unlike Wessel, does not alienate his family.[3] It was, however, among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades.[4] His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting "the real battle."[5]

Plot[edit]

The film concentrates on the conflict with the Communist Party in Berlin in the late 1920s. When Westmar arrives in Berlin the communists are popular, holding large parades through Berlin singing The Internationale. When he looks into the cultural life of Weimar Berlin, he is horrified at the "internationalism" and cultural promiscuity, which includes black jazz music and Jewish nightclub singers. This scene dissolves into images of the German fighting men of World War I and shots of the cemeteries of the German dead.

Westmar decides to help organize the local Nazi party and becomes, through the course of the plot, responsible for their electoral victories, which encourages the Communists to kill him.

Depiction of communism[edit]

While communism as such is depicted as the foe, the communists fall into three categories.[6] While the party boss shamelessly transmits the party line from Moscow, and the short Jewish official incites violence and then flees, and are directly responsible for the murder, one communist is presented as an idealist fighting for the proletarian.[6] In the last scene, on seeing a Nazi torchlight procession on the eve of the Nazi seizure of power, he is moved to salute the new Germany; Hans Westmar's example has inspired him.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ D. Welch, Propaganda and the German Cinema, pp. 61–71.
  2. ^ Robert Edwin Hertzstein, The War That Hitler Won p 262 ISBN 0-399-11845-4
  3. ^ Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, p. 85 ISBN 0-674-01172-4
  4. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p24 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  5. ^ Richard Overy, The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, p462 ISBN 0-393-02030-4
  6. ^ a b Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p35 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  7. ^ Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p35-6 ISBN 0-02-570230-0

External links[edit]