4 user 2 critic

Death Is My Trade (1977)

Aus einem deutschen Leben (original title)
The disturbing biography of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss.


Theodor Kotulla


Theodor Kotulla, Robert Merle (novel)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Götz George ... Franz Lang and (uncredited) voice of Franz Lang als Junge (voice)
Elisabeth Schwarz Elisabeth Schwarz ... Else Lang
Kurt Hübner Kurt Hübner ... Oberst von Jeseritz
Hans Korte ... Heinrich Himmler
Matthias Fuchs ... Sturmbannführer Kellner
Kai Taschner Kai Taschner ... Franz Lang als Junge
Siegurd Fitzek Siegurd Fitzek ... Hauptmann Guenther
Peter Franke ... Schrader
Wilfried Elste Wilfried Elste ... Siebert
Walter Czaschke Walter Czaschke ... Obersturmbannführer Eichmann
Claus-Dieter Reents Claus-Dieter Reents ... Setzler - Ordonnanz
Anke Tegtmeyer Anke Tegtmeyer ... Oberschwester
Hermann Günther Hermann Günther ... Soldat Schmitz
Peter Petran Peter Petran ... Karl
Werner Eichhorn Werner Eichhorn ... Erich


The disturbing biography of Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama




West Germany



Release Date:

18 November 1977 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Death Is My Trade See more »

Filming Locations:

Poland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Black and White | Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

A very different sort of Holocaust movie.
13 October 2003 | by Nuada7See all my reviews

"Aus einem deutschen Leben" (literally "from a German life", but titled "Death is my Trade" in the subtitled version) is a Holocaust film like none other that I've seen. Where "The Gray Zone" focused on life in Auschwitz, and "Jakob der Lügner" (aka "Jacob the Liar") focused on life in a Jewish ghetto, "Death is my Trade" centers on the life of Rudolph Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz II-Birkenau for the majority of its existence.

The main character's name in the film is Franz Lang. This name change was deliberate to ensure that the character is not automatically viewed as being some sort of villain or demon. Franz is an average German kid growing up during World War I. The film follows Franz as he grows up and becomes a hard, efficient, organized worker who eventually joins the National Socialist party in Germany. Impressionable young Franz takes orders as one of the utmost points of honor and duty, so when he is eventually asked by Heinrich Himmler to become commandant of the largest extermination camp built during WWII he barely hesitates to consider how heavy such a burden will be.

The film is based on the memoirs written by Rudolph Höss during the last few months of his life in a Polish prison before his execution in 1947. This is a beautiful look into the life of a German caught up in the Nazi "revolution" in Germany. It is beautiful because it does not demonize the Nazis as being inhuman; they were just as human as you and I. This film shows how it could have been anyone, but it just happened to be Rudolph Höss. A good piece of history even if it isn't the greatest work of cinema for the time. This movie wasn't made for entertainment; it was made to inform the ignorant.

7/10 for a film, but a true look into the humanity of the Nazis.

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