In a Nazi-occupied French town, meek and mild-mannered teacher Albert Lory lives with his mother. Few people, including his students, have any respect for him and he literally shakes in his boots during an air raid. He is quite friendly with his fellow teacher, Louise Martin and her brother Paul who also happen to be neighbors. If truth be told, Albert is quite in love with Louise but she is in a relationship with George Lambert and he feels she is quite beyond his reach. Paul is a member of the resistance and is killed when Lambert informs the Nazis. Outraged at what he's done, Albert arrives at Lambert's office just as the informer commits suicide. Albert is charged with murder but the local Nazi commander, Major Erich von Keller, offers him a deal: if Albert agrees to remain silent rather then continue a speech in his own defense which is arousing fellow citizens, he will ensure a not guilty verdict. Albert returns to the courtroom and in an act of bravery urges his fellow citizens... Written by
Did You Know?
The singing of "Die Lorelei" by the German soldiers was a subtle dig at the anti-semitic regime of the Nazis, since the words were written by banned Jewish poet Heinrich Heine
. Many of his books, considered "un-German," were burned in the book-burning episode at Opernplatz, Berlin, Germany, on 10 May 1933. However, his works were so popular that they were still published, but "author unknown" was the listed writer. In his 1821 play "Almansor," Heine also prophetically wrote "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("Where they burned books, they will in the end in burn people.") See more
After the initial credits, there is a notation "Somewhere in Europe ...". All the signs and notices are in English so there is no specific country identified this way. The film could be set in Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway or any of the other occupied territories. However, when Professor Sorel, Louise Martin and Albert Lory examine the school textbooks for what must be removed, all the references are to French history and literature, squarely placing the film in France. See more
[At Albert Lory's murder trial, the Prosecutor produces a "suicide note," proving that George Lambert killed himself. But Lory will not have it
The letter's forged, Your Honor. Major Von Keller told me last night... The prosecutor wrote that letter himself. I think he's trying to save my life.
[laughter ripples through the courtroom
This is no laughing matter! Your Honor, for the sake of the dignity of this court, I respectfully ask that the man who started that unseemly outburst be forcibly ...
Music by Friedrich Silcher (1838)
Poem by Heinrich Heine
Played on accordion by Kent Smith
and sung by the German soldiers See more