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Wolfgang Liebeneiner was forced to make this film in September 1944. It is
based on a short expose written by man who never existed (only on paper).
Historians believe that it was Joseph Goebbels himself, who wrote it as
there are certain passages in the script that are identical to some of his
speeches held in the years 1943 and 1944.
Liebeneiner had no chance of refusing that project as it was an "honour" to
be "asked" by the minister of propaganda, so he wanted at least as much
salary as Veit Harlan got for his "Kolberg", as sum nearly 180.000 RM
(ReichsMark). Preproduction started soon, but was delayed by Goebbels to
late November who had full control over the project and wanted the script
re-written. Several authors got under contract, but were fired soon, yet
received their full salary. In the end it was the most expensive script
written in the Third Reich, a sum about 350.000 RM.
Liebeneiner wanted the touch and look of "Mrs. Miniver" of which he had
received a stolen copy via the propaganda ministry for studies. It was
clear to him that a project of such size couldn´t be finished within 3
months. But the things went still on, and the unbalanced fanatism of those
days reflected the huge trust in the weapon propaganda to turn the war for
Filming started in mid-December througout the end of the war, yet
unfinished. Several problems, all caused by the late stage of the war and
the massive destruction of berlin by allied air raids (powerplant shutdowns
over several days, shortage of raw stock, destroyed locations outside of
UFA-Studios) made this film the last big epic production of the Third
In March 1945 the whole production moved to the Luneburger Heide, as there was no bombing and few raids by fighter/bombers. It was obvious even to the last crewmember that the war was lost but Liebeneiner still continued, hoping to prevent everyone from the front AND that he could finish the film some time after the war with a different, more positive ending and a clear message of peace and hope for a better world. It was there when the first troups heading for Berlin found the filmcrew and "freed" it. The film cans had been hidden from the Allies, as the material wasn´t developed yet and Liebeneiner hoped to continue some day. Unfortunately the negatives were eventually destroyed by a fire or found by local residents who traded it or burned it. Liebeneiner and all of his crewmembers or actors withstood a warcrimes trial (except Heinrich George), so they were able to begin working soon after the war had ended. Liebeneiner later got the head of the Vienna Film Academy who died in 1987. There is a small anecdote on the atmosphere on the set:
Everyday the 2nd Ass. Director came in in the morning, gathering all members around him and asking "Isn´t life wonderful?" with everyone answering loud (not without sarcasm) "Yes, it is!".
Today it still unknown if there exist some copies of the original negatives or dailies. Only five stills had been made (that still exist) in an early state of production, a scene where Hilde Kral and Gustav Knuth are in the kitchen cooking pancakes.