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 ... See full summary »
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
While the film is only partially based on Lion Feuchtwanger's 1925 historical novel "Jud Süß", as well as Wilhelm Hauff's 1827 novella, neither the film nor the written works correspond to the actual historic sources regarding the actual Joseph Süß Oppenheimer as still accessible at the Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg. See more »
The film tells that Joseph Süß Oppenheimer lived in the Jew Alley (Judengasse) in the ghetto in Frankfurt before he moved to Württemberg. Actually he lived in Württemberg, since his birth in Heidelberg. Even his first meeting with Karl Alexander, before he became Duke of Württemberg was in Bad Wildbad, a place in Württemberg See more »
"Jud Süß" is overall a well-made, sometimes brilliant, occasionally hammy, movie. It's plausible that it served its intended function, to promote antisemitism, beautifully in its time. The movie came out in 1940, about one year after the beginning of the war, about five years after the Nuremberg race laws, and about two years before the Wannsee Conference. Considering the enormous, fanatical hatred of the Nazis against jews, the movie's antisemitism comes across as surprisingly subtle. Flanked by the occasional antisemitic outburst ("There are no hostels for jews in Stuttgart") the movie builds a convincing psychogram of a perpetrator and leaves all its great performances to its antiheroes, while the good guys come across as pale, square and boring.
The movie is surprising in many aspects and allows perplexing insights into the Nazi mindframe. The faulty emperor (played by Heinrich George) is described as fat, vain and sybaritic (in his fantasy uniform he's the spitting image of Goering) and also as a militarist and a megalomaniac, who has lost contact with the needs of his people (Hitler comes to mind). When Süss is eventually hanged, he comes across not so much as a monster but as the scapegoat that Wilhelm Hauff, the author of the original novella, described him as.
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