In this notorious Nazi propaganda historical costume melodrama, a conniving, ambitious Jewish businessman, Süß Oppenheimer, snares a post as treasurer to the Duke of Wurttemburg by ...
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In this notorious Nazi propaganda historical costume melodrama, a conniving, ambitious Jewish businessman, Süß Oppenheimer, snares a post as treasurer to the Duke of Wurttemburg by showering the corrupt duke with treasure and promises of even greater riches. As the Jew's schemes grow more elaborate and his actions more brazen, the dukedom nearly erupts into civil war. Persuaded by the Jew, the Duke all but scuttles the constitution and alienates the assembly by lifting the local ban on Jews in Stuttgart. In a final outrage, the Jew rapes a wholesome German girl and tortures her father and fiancée. When the Duke succumbs to a sudden heart attack, the assembly of Elders try the Jew and sentence him to death for having "carnal knowledge of a Christian woman". Written by
Kevin Rayburn <email@example.com>
Leading actor Ferdinand Marian first refused to play Oppenheimer, but was forced to relent when Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels threatened the safety of his stepson, who was half Jewish. See more »
When Aktuarius lays the dead body of Dorothea on the doorsteps and puts his head on her chest, her right eyelid clearly moves for a few seconds. See more »
The life and unhappy end of said life for Joseph Oppenheimer, the famous Jew Suss has been interpreted in many ways over the years in a variety of medium. The most vile interpretation was that done in this 1940 film, personally produced and supervised by Joseph Goebbels.
The real Oppenheimer was out of Vienna where he had done considerable business with the Catholic Hapsburgs and moved to the Wurttemberg area where he came to the attention of the heir to Duchy of Wurttemberg who after he became Duke made Oppenheimer his first minister.
Duke Karl Alexander played by Heinrich George is an ambitious fellow who would like to create a miniature Versailles over in Stuttgart an ambition that a number of German heads of state wanted to emulate including Frederick the Great over in Prussia. Ferdinand Marian as Oppenheimer is a worldly high living fellow himself who provides a number of financial schemes that increase the Duke's treasury. Of course while doing it he arouses the ire of the local Lutheran gentry. After Duke Karl Alexander dies, the burghers of Stuttgart do to Oppenheimer precisely what you see in Jew Suss.
Without the religious component the closest thing approximating this story was that of Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV's minister of finance over in France. He lived high on the hog, too high in the opinion of his king. Fouquet was however first given exile and then had the sentence commuted to life in prison.
What Oppenheimer's story played into was a latent anti-Semitism already instilled in the population by Martin Luther. During the course of the movie the burghers of Stuttgart warn the Duke of Luther's warnings about how vile those Jews are, but the Duke fails to heed. The Catholic Hapsburg connection isn't brought in as the Austrians were now part of the Reich.
The real Oppenheimer was accused of being an agent for those Hapsburgs in real life. But here he's the agent of a deep and nebulous Jewish conspiracy to take over Wurttemberg. Today Wurttemberg, tomorrow the world. Like Jews always do, he's got designs on Aryan women and in his sites here is Krista Soderburg, a Swedish actress married to the director of Jew Suss, Veit Harlan who always played the prototype of Aryan women in German films. Her being debauched and later suicide sparks all the latent hatred against Oppenheimer that gets unleashed with the demise of Duke Karl Alexander. Her Aryan sweetheart played by Malte Jager leads the mob against Oppenheimer.
Again in real life Oppenheimer was a worldly sort who never had any trouble getting women to give up the goods. A whole lot like Fouquet over in France, but again we have the religious component here.
Mind you this same story had been filmed six years earlier over in Great Britain with the exiled Conrad Veidt playing Oppenheimer. In that version, Oppenheimer is endowed with saintly qualities and is a martyr, saintly qualities the real Oppenheimer probably would have scorned. It's fascinating the different spin you can give, especially if you're in the propaganda game. Joe Goebbels, the little club footed maniac who ran German cinema as part of the Propaganda Ministry, had a casting couch that dwarfed any in Hollywood and anything that Oppenheimer in real life could ever dream of.
I won't put a rating on Jew Suss, this is such a vile story meant to inflame anti-Semitism and succeeding horribly. This was required viewing for people entering the S.S. those who became guards at the concentration camps. It was vile when it occurred in real life and viler yet when told by the Nazis in this film.
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