POSTER GALLERY  --view over 500  German film original posters from 1927–1954 from Germany and from across Europe!   

Note!  Posters in the Poster Gallery are PERMANENT acquisitions which are NOT FOR SALE!!   ONLY the posters listed for sale with a price listed in our POSTER STORE are for sale.  

 

POSTER STORE    A FEW CHOICE RARE ITEMS FOR SALE !

Stukas

 

This is the Gaufilmstelle cardboard poster for the film – one of the most dramatic and eye–catching of them all!

 

An ESSAY on the film:

 

    KARL RITTER, HIS ‘ZEITFILMS’ and STUKAS (1941)

 

Film director Karl Ritter (1888–1977) is universally condemned by post–WWII film historians for his militaristic, chauvinistic, and unwavering propaganda films which glorified war, aggression, and ‘senseless self–sacrifice.’ Ritter joined the NSDAP in 1925, and was a committed National Socialist until the Second World War ended in 1945.  His films utilized anti–democratic, anti–semitic and anti–communist ideological themes epitomizing the stereotypical Nazi warrior, and promoted a Greater Germany against all enemies of the Reich. At war’s end, the Soviets demanded that he be tried for war crimes for ‘the systematic poisoning of German youth.’

 

Karl Ritter’s films for Nazi Germany brought together the major influences of his life –  soldiering, flying, the graphic and creative arts, and classical music. 

 

His father was a professor of music in Würzburg, and his mother an opera singer who was cousin to composer Richard Wagner’s son, Siegfried. Richard Wagner and Bayreuth, with its blend of nationalism, anti–Semitism and German mythology, became second nature to Ritter in his formative years.  It is no coincidence that the young pilots ofStukas are entertained by their Squadron leader’s piano playing of ‘Siegfried’s Rhine Journey’ from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, before they face death on their next mission,  or that in one of the most famous scenes of the film, a young wounded pilot (Hannes Stelzer) is rehabilitated by attending a performance of that opera in Bayreuth and then impatiently rushes back to the front to re–join his comrades in renewed spirits.

 

Ritter was also an early aviation pioneer, self–constructing his first single–decker plane in 1910 and obtaining in September 1911 pilot license #121 from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in Paris. 

 

In WWI, as a Lieutenant battalion commander, he won both the Iron Cross Second Class and First Class in ferocious trench warfare at the Battle of the Somme and four other major battles. His memories of that sacrifice and the collapse of Germany in 1918 strongly influenced his WWI film trilogy of Patrioten (1937),  Urlaub of Ehrenwort (1937) and Unternehmen Michael (also 1937).  The dire inter–war Weimar era was subsequently reflected in his infamous Pour le Mérite (1938)in which the film’s lead character played by Paul Hartmannon trial for sedition, tells his judges that he “hates Democracy like the plague” and pledges to fight tooth and nail to bring down the wretched government of the day. All but two of his subsequent Spanish Civil War and WWII feature films (Im Kampf gegen den Weltfeind, Legion Condor, Über alles in der Welt, Stukas, Besatzuing Dora) used the Luftwaffe (or Legion Condor) as the main setting. 

Ritter’s Weimar years were spent as a graphic artist, designing engravings and book illustrations and eventually hundreds of silent era film posters. He was first employed in the film industry in 1927 in the area of promotion, and by the time of  his production with director Hans Steinhoff of Hitlerjunge Quex (1933) he had worked on forty–nine other film projects.

 

Ritter’s graphic skills prompted him to develop storyboards of his film scenes – the first film director to do so, as his contemporary directors principally came into the young film industry from the theater stage. 

 

He is credited with inventing ‘Zeitfilms,’ or contemporary films which employed fast–paced action sequences, and episodes of story–telling rather than traditional individual character development; presenting what he called ‘a cross–section of our time, which gives a cinematic account of a temporal epoch’ in a cohesive form. In reflecting National Socialist ideology, his films demonstrated the ideas of necessary sacrifice and the individual’s contribution towards the Volk community (or military effort) for the greater good of Germany.

 

In a 1936 speech he stated that: ‘I do not believe that any other art form  – we could name theater, we could name novels, literature, the fine arts – could portray our time for later times, for future centuries, in a more clear, concise, influential, more vivid way than can film.’

 

He continued: ‘Zeitfilms are themselves probably the highest achievement of the cinematic art, and will probably be immortal.  The celluloid ribbon one could bury in a foundation stone and one, could, if he had the technical means, show the film again in a thousand year’s time.’

 

Stukaswas carefully prepared by Ritter. He co–wrote the screenplay, and as a Major in the Luftwaffe in real life, flew a Stuka himself in Occupied France in September 1940, to gain insight into what it was like to be a pilot of this aircraft under battle conditions. As the film portrays a squadron of Luftwaffe pilots fighting the British and French on the western front in 1940, actual war footage was shown, including, as it happened, the bombing of British troops during their evacuation at Dunkirk.

 

Using the special effects available at the Ufa studios, Ritter blended contemporary combat footage with innovative rear projection and the use of sophisticated scale airplane models to great effect. This result is still recognized today in post–war German film histories as a pioneering special effects success.

 

Wagner’s music was complemented by a stirring score by one of Germany’s leading film composers, Herbert Windt, whose scoring for Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens andOlympiaare well–known. The “Stuka–Lied” sung by the pilots at the film’s conclusion became a huge hit song at the time.

 

The film premiered on 27 June 1941 at the prestigious cinema Ufa Palast am Zoo, Berlin, at the height of Nazi Germany’s military triumphs.

Reichsminister for Propaganda Dr Joseph Goebbels, in his diary entry of 2 June 1941, wrote: ‘The new Ritter film Stukas. Terrifically good with magical aerial photography....."

 

In a national survey of Hitler Youth members aged 10–18 years of age held in February 1943, Stukas ranked 9th of their favorite films of all time, out of more than two hundred film titles from 1933–1943.

 

Today, old American and British films about WWII Allied triumphs such as the Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo or the British victory in the Battle of Britain blend, not so successfully, old newsreel or combat footage with post–war studio shots. In Stukas, the dashing young pilots in their silk scarves are not US Army Air Corps or British RAF pilots, but members of the Luftwaffe, fighting for their Führer and Hermann Göring, and rather than showing reconstructed battles many decades after the war, it allows today’s viewers to experience the comradeship, boisterous enthusiasm and élan of a flying squadron filmed at the time of the actual 1940 war front in a quintessential Ritter ‘Zeitfilm.’  More than any other Third Reich film director, Ritter caught the Zeitgeist of his times, and as the German film lexicon CineGraph states, his films are ‘today a method to understand the nature and workings of the fascist ideology of the Third Reich.’

--- William Gillespie, author of Karl Ritter, 2ndedition ©2014and The Making of the Crew of the Dora, ©2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Year
1941
 
Director
Ritter
 
Country
Germany