One of the most popular posters in our Poster Gallery sought by website visitors throughout the years has been our original small window poster for the film Hitlerjunge Quex. The film was directed by Hans Steinhoff, with Karl Ritter as Head of Production in 1933.
Prior to the start of the film’s production, Ritter recalled how the boy was found at the last minute to replace the already cast Hermann Braun in the title role. Braun was a fifteen year old child actor with one feature film already under his belt. After shooting commenced, he fell ill and held up the production in its second week, for a further eight days, at great cost. This forced Ritter, as Production Head, to find another boy as quickly as possible to replace him.
In the Ufa film studio 8 page newspaper Opfergeist/Spirit of Sacrificepromoting the film, published for Hitler Youth across Germany, Ritter wrote an article entitled ‘How I discovered Hitler Youth Quex for the film.’ Ritter recalled that he frantically looked all over Berlin (“Ein Königreich für einen Jungen!”– A kingdom for a boy!) , and called around to find a new actor and eventually told his colleague Willi Domgraf–Faßbaender of the crisis, who said that he knew of a boy in his neighbourhood who could fit the bill, but did not know who he was. After many phone calls, the boy’s parents were successfully contacted, and it happened that the youngster knew the Quex book, because he had been given a copy for his confirmation. Ritter wrote: “Heini II. was on top of it with every fibre of his being, tireless in the unusually often difficult and stressful work.” (Ritter Tagebuch, Juni 1933, S.61.) These and many other heretofore unknown details are to be found in our biography Karl Ritter – His Life and 'Zeitiflms' under National Socialism.
Ritter’s diary also states that the boy was “completely foreign to the stage, and was discovered by someone at a spa through his striking outward appearance.” The youngster was named Jürgen Ohlsen.
Jürgen was a member of Bann 195 of the Hitler Youth in Berlin from 15 February 1933 until 24 November 1936. Thereafter, he was a member of the National Socialist Students Union.
During the film–shoot, Ritter recalled an anecdote about the famous scene when Communist father Volker (portrayed by the great Heinrich George) violently slaps his boy Heini (played by Jürgen Ohlsen) in the head for singing the Hitler Youth song Our Flag flutters before Us at home, after witnessing a Hitler Youth camp site ceremony the previous night:
Unforgettable was the George–Jürgen Ohlsen ear–slapping scene. George first paid for Jürgen’s ice cream and took him into the canteen like a godfather would. Jürgen saw nothing to fear in him. So then, when the dreadful ear–slap scene came, the tears shot from his eyes.
Ohlsen’s second and final feature film role was in the aviation film Wunder des Fliegens /The Wonder of Flight(1935) in which Ohlsen plays a young man who aspires to follow his late father’s footsteps as a pilot, despite his mother’s refusal to allow him to do so. Ohlsen’s character befriends the great aviator Ernst Udet and learns to fly with him through some perilous adventures and an edge–of–your–seat dramatic rescue in the Alps.
The Wikipedia entry on Ohlsen has nothing much more to say about him other than the fact that he was expelled in 1935 from his HJ Bann in Berlin because he had been accused of continuing to play tennis with a Jew on numerous occasions. (His police files indicate that he was still a member until November 1936 –– another 11 months after this accusation.)
We have through a colleague been able to access the German Archives military service records for Jürgen Ohlsen, and photocopies of his 1938 Labor Service (RAD) and all of his WWII military service records. In 1938 he was 178.5 cm tall and weighed 57.5 kg, blonde hair, "slim" in build.
These records show him to be a very competent soldier, serving in Pioniere divisions (1./Pionier–Erstaz-Bataillon 80 Klosterneuburg, 1./Pionier–Bataillon 100, and finally in 3./Pioniere–Bataillon 331) as an engineer/construction man, or what could be called a "sapper." Remarks about his training always comment "sehr gut." He served in the Wehrmacht from 15. January 1940, and from 21. August 1941 to mid–February 1944 he fought in the Occupied Soviet Union. He achieved the rank of Oberleutnant, or First Lieutenant at October 1, 1942. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 12. September 1942 and the Iron Cross 1st Class on 13 February 1943. He was hospitalised due to "multiple grenade splinters throughout his entire body" and transported to the Military Hospital at Baden bei Wien (Vienna) from 24. February 1944. We presume that his evacuation from the USSR to Vienna due to those wounds saved his dying on the Eastern Front and therefore saved his life.
Interestingly, given the charges against him for playing tennis with a Jew, the documents include a remark that as of 12 April 1937 (which was more than a full year after those tennis charges were made) a police report cited indicates "nothing detrimental as far as police matters go." This is significant as such association was a criminal offence under the 1935 Nürnberg Law to Protect German Blood and Honour. Ohlsen was not so charged officially.
Ohlsen was born on 15 March 1917 in Berlin–Schöneberg and died in Düsseldorf on 23 Septembr 1994, aged 77 years. His post–war career was that of an engineer.