Taken out of its Nazi Germany context, My Life For Ireland for me is not even good propaganda. It was a story I just could not buy. But during its day playing to an audience of impressionable youth, and that's who it was aimed at who never got any contrary information, I can see why it had a certain appeal. This film was never shown in Ireland, the products of German cinema in 1941 were not getting off the continent.
My Life For Ireland was aimed at German youth, Hitler youth about to go to war against the British to show what a rotten nation this was. It begins in 1903 when we see landlords evicting tenants, starvation all around, things that were actually happening over fifty years earlier. Werner Hinz playing Irish patriot Michael O'Brian is captured after a raid where an English sheriff who looked a whole lot like Winston Churchill is shot and killed. Hinz is sentenced to death,but on the day of his execution, he marries his pregnant girlfriend Anna Dammann and she swears to raise an Irish patriot.
Fast forward to 1921 and that kid is now young Will Quadflieg and he and other Irish kids are going to an English public school set up in Dublin to train the youth to be good subjects of His Majesty. Quadflieg brings home some his friends and one of them Heinz Ohlssen is really taken with Quadflieg's mom. So when he sees IRA man Rene Deltgen visiting Damann he misreads things, but still it was only innocently that he betrays Deltgen to a British kid going to his school and acting as an informer.
For the rest of the film, let's say the young man gets a big old chance to redeem himself for the cause of Ireland. The title of the film says it all.
This film was directed by Max W. Kimmich who was Joseph Goebbals brother-in-law so you know that this film had the interest of the highest authorities in Nazi Germany. Marketed to German youth, the message was obvious, the Irish kids fought and beat the British back, you Hitler led German youth can do the same.
Personally I found the whole puppy love aspect of the plot just a bit ridiculous. I can't believe that Kimmich who was a writer as well as director of this film could not come up with a better plot device.
On the plus side Kimmich also must have seen John Ford's The Informer because My Life For Ireland has that same dark look of intrigue about it and the final scenes of the uprising are well staged. And I learned here that extras were actually killed during those scenes and they were left in the film. Even in Hollywood, that wouldn't have happened.
Seen today My Life For Ireland is a curiosity and a sad remembrance of kids going off to battle with the message of this film and others ringing in their ears.
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