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This is a must-see film if you are a student of Nazi propaganda. Otherwise, this film is to be avoided. In this movie, the Polish people are portrayed as brutal and murderous, always ready to torture the ethnic Germans living on Polish soil. Those ethnic Germans, on the other hand, are shown as the innocent victims of Polish brutalities. Victims indeed that were to be saved by 'Führer' Adolf Hitler. For instance: the film contains a scene in which a young woman, with a swastika chain dangling around her neck, is grabbed by an older, mean Polish man. It is obvious that he wants to rape her. One should not forget that this movie was made after the German invasion of Poland to justify that very same war. That's what the title of this movie means: 'Heimkehr' or 'Homecoming' hints at the 'coming home' of the ethnic Germans in the 'Greater German Reich', after the annexation of Poland. This films was produced in close collaboration with Joseph Goebbels's ministry of propaganda.
Shot in Nazi Germany in 1941, HEIMKEHR shows the suppression of ethnic
Germans in a little town in Eastern Poland (now Ukraine) during spring
and summer of 1939. While Polish military prepares for war, German
schools are closed and plundered. Minority rights are cut down or
disrespected. Open hostility and violence against German people
increases, while the official authorities watch on. After the outbreak
of the war, the Germans are interned into a prison. Only the progress
of the Wehrmacht safes them in the last minute. The final scenes show
them being re-located and transferred "back to the Reich".
For today's audiences this film shows a world surrealistically turned upside down, as it is a Nazi produced film that accuses ethnic persecution and a chauvinistic state treating his unwelcome citizens with ruthless disposal and disrespect of laws. Many scenes and lines said by the actors appear familiar from countless Anti-Nazi-movies.
The propagandistic means employed by director Gustav Ucicky are mostly very primitive, as the villainous Poles look ugly and mean with no redeeming qualities at all. Even a few nasty Jewish stereotypes are thrown in.Other scenes, such as the imprisonment of the Germans in a crowded dark cell, have an intense, nightmarish quality, and ironically strongly recall Holocaust iconography for today's viewers. The final speeches, held by the otherwise great Austrian actress Paula Wessely, are a torture to watch: pathetic, pompous, silly and empty propaganda at its worst, as lifeless as a cardboard.
It should however be pointed out that the pogrom-like assaults (including murder and manslaughter), the increasing ethnic hostilities and the aggressive nationalist policy of the Polish state, which was also directed against other minorities (or in this particular then-part of Poland rather majorities) such as Ukranians, Jews and Belorussians, is based on well-documented facts, which are given little attention or downplayed by many historians today for mostly political reasons. As the war came closer, the hostilities on both sides increased. There are many scenes, such as an incident at a movie theater when the Germans are forced by an angry crowd to sing the Polish national anthem which may actually be fairly realistic portrayals of the atmosphere in certain parts of the country and the loyalty conflicts endured.
Other now rather forgotten facts of the prelude to the war are shown as well, such as the mobilization of the Polish army as early as March 1939. A Polish propaganda poster which can be seen in one scene, that calls for a Greater Poland reaching as far as Berlin and further is authentic as well. After the outbreak of the war several Thousands of German civilians were interned and massacred throughout Poland. That the Nazis in consequence could do far worse than that is a testament to the cynical hypocrisy and double-speech of totalitarian regimes.
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