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I Was a Criminal (1945)

In Prussia shoemaker Voigt needs a residence permit to get a job, but can only get a job if he already has a permit. He dons a captain's uniform to order a platoon of soldiers to Koepenick to take over the Town Hall to get his permit.



(screenplay), (screen version Der Hauptmann von Köpenick) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Obermueller, the Mayor
Kilian, City Hall Guard
Prison Guard
Wallis Clark ...
Mrs. Marie Hoprecht
First Railroad Employee
Second Railroad Employee
Rosenkrantz, the Treasurer
Prison Warden
Knoll, the Factory Personnel Manager
Krakauer, the Second-Hand Dealer
Police Commisioner


The true story of shoemaker Wilhelm Voigt, who is released from prison after many years of hard labor only to find himself in the midst of a Prussian catch-22: To get a residence permit (passport), he must have a job, but he can only get a job if he already has a residence permit. No one in the Prussian-German bureaucracy of 1906 feels compelled to help him: Everything must go by the book! Out of desperation, Voigt breaks into a police station to steal the permit but is caught and again goes to jail. The prison warden loves everything military and has the prisoners re-enact famous battles. Once Voigt is released he has a deep knowledge of military uniforms, military ranks and military speak that he can use to his advantage. In Berlin he buys a used captain's uniform, puts it on and marches towards a platoon of soldiers standing guard. He commands them to follow him to Koepenick, a suburb of Berlin. He is so convincing they follow his orders! Once they arrive he has the soldiers stage ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »







Release Date:

1 January 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Captain of Koepenick  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its initial television broadcasts in Los Angeles Saturday 16 July 1949 on KTSL (Channel 2) and in New York City Tuesday 17 January 1950 on the DuMont Television Network's WABD (Channel 11). See more »


Remade as Der Hauptmann von Köpenick (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

12 September 2004 | by (NYC) – See all my reviews

I don't understand why this movie is listed as "I Was a Criminal." It was released in the U.S., and shown on television years ago, as Passport to Heaven.

A really outstanding, touching movie that featured a distinguished performance by Basserman. This movie appeared toward the end of the Second World War, and on one level was very crude anti-German propaganda. But its subtext, the yearning for freedom, is universal.

One real tragedy is that this movie simply vanished from the face of the earth. It is not available in any format, DVD or video. A real shame. My thanks to the other commenter for sharing his recollections of the film.

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