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Theresienstadt (1944)

| Short, History
Nazi propaganda film depicting the notorious Theresienstadt concentration camp as a sort of idyllic rest stop, in an attempt to convince world opinion that there was no such thing as Nazi death camps.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Paul Eppstein ...
Vorsitzender des Ältestenrates der Juden / Soziologe - Mannheim - Berlin
Karel Fischer ...
Dirigent
Kurt Gerron ...
Regisseur - Schauspieler
Frau Görtz ...
Gräfin - Holland
...
Himself
Hans Krása ...
Komponist - Prag
Alfred Meissner ...
Jurist - ehem. Minister - Tschechoslowakei
Benjamin Murmelstein ...
Himself
Coco Schumann ...
Himself
Jo Spier ...
Maler - Zeichner - Holland
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Storyline

This is the only film known to be made by the Nazis inside an operating concentration camp. Germany's Ministry of Propaganda produced this 1944 film about Theresienstadt, the "model" ghetto established by the Nazis in 1941 in Terezin, a town in the former Czechoslovakia. Joseph Goebbels intended to use the film to prove to the International Red Cross and the world that Jews were being well-treated in the camps. The film, however, is an elaborately staged hoax presenting a completely false picture of camp life. Upon completion, the director and most of the cast of prisoners were shipped to Auschwitz. Only a few survived to attest to the falsity of the film. Includes study guide. Written by National Center for Jewish Film

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Short | History

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Also Known As:

Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt  »

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| (fragment) | (original)

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

The shoot started on 26 August 1944 in Theresienstadt. The cast and crew were mostly prisoners from Theresienstadt, but they had no artistic freedom because the screenplay and production was closely supervised by the SS-Nazis. Nearly all of the prisoners who worked on this film were later deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp on 28 October 1944. Kurt Gerron, his wife and most of the performers were gassed immediately upon arrival. The editing and post-production was supervised only by the SS-Nazis. The film was finished on 28 March 1945. The propaganda film was presented only 4 times within the next 3 weeks. See more »

Connections

Featured in Et lys i mørket (1983) See more »

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The holocaust was real, but the prisoners' paradise a myth
23 May 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The holocaust was not a myth, as some Neo-Nazis claim. The Third Reich's documents and the films of concentration camps made by the Nazis themselves serve as historical records, as do the reports of the survivors and the allied forces who rescued them.

But this film made by the Nazis themselves in 1944 called "Theresienstadt – the Fuhrer gives a City to the Jews" is pure myth, made for propaganda purposes. The city, now located in the Czech Republic, was then actually an overcrowded transit camp for prisoners en route to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Goebbels hired the Jewish actor/director Kurt Gerron, who had appeared in Marlene Dietrich's first famous movie, "Blue Angel" in 1930. He shot the film as instructed, depicting the place as a model Jewish settlement, or city of paradise. The overcrowding was temporarily curtailed by sending extra shipments of prisoners off to the gas chambers while the filming took place. It was made to look like a holiday village, a paradise for the Jews and foreigners. There were apparently ideal living conditions, play schools and gyms for the children, theatrical productions, arts and crafts, and as a climax to the film, there was a fine performance by a massed choir of Verdi's Requiem Mass. Even the Red Cross came and saw the town, and was impressed (and deceived by) the apparent excellent living conditions. As soon as the film was in the can, all the participants were shipped quietly away to be gassed at Auschwitz, including Kurt Gerron and his wife. A sad story that turns the stomach, that such inhumanity could be inflicted on millions of innocent people, not only Jews, but just as many others, Germans, foreigners and political dissidents alike.

What remains of the movie is a tragic and ironic record of the Nazis' malevolence, and the circumstances of its making should never be forgotten.


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