Ohm Krüger (Tobis, 1941) - Special Collection
The anti-British film Ohm Krüger, directed by Hans Steinhoff, was one of the most elaborate, lavish and costly feature films made during the Third Reich. Starring the renowned actor Emil Jannings in the title role, with a very strong and huge cast of leading and supporting actors, it depicted the Boer War in South Africa as a merciless British series of war crimes against innocent Boer farmers and their defenseless women and children -- driven by gold, greed and hatred. Kitchener’s brutal use of a concentration camp against Boer civilians sheeted home that this was another perfidious British invention. Jannings’ reputation never recovered from this title role portrayal or for his artistic supervision of this film, and he died a broken man in 1950.
The Gillespie Collection has seven different original posters for this important propaganda film. These include three Tobis film posters for Germany, as well as two from France, and two from Italy.
The rare world premiere film program is in the Collection, as well as the Tobis film studio glossy 40-page promotion brochure (we have the German, Italian and the French language editions), the Tobis pressbook, the Reichsfilmkammer’s flyer on the historical accuracy of the film by Dr. Ziegler; and the original Simplicissmus magazine (shown below) depicting the famous Olaf Gulbransson cover sketch of Jannings as Krüger which was also used (Muster 2) as one of the German posters. Also in the Collection are sixty different original Tobis lobby cards from the film, and five Tobis press photos from both the Rome and Berlin premieres attended by Jannings, Steinhoff, other cast members, and Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, German and Italian Ambassadors, as well as Benito Mussolini.
The film was designated a "Film of the Nation" by Dr. Goebbels and unprecedented publicity and promotion brought the film to huge audiences both within the Reich and across Europe. Here, for example, is the film studio newspaper advertisement proclaiming that out of 180 cinemas within Greater Germany, in cities and towns alike, no fewer than 41% of them, or 76 cinemas, broke their box office record for paid attendances.
You can read an English translation of the newspaper article on the television broadcast coverage of the world premiere of the film in Berlin found on this webpage (scroll down...) here.
Director Hans Steinhoff and actor Emil Jannings with the script for Ohm Krüger on the set for the penultimate shattering scene of the film, the British concentration camp where Paul Krüger's wife, son, and other children were murdered; along with over twenty–five thousand Boer women and children during the long Boer War. (Photo from Der Deutsche Film.)
Below, a contemporary photo of a malnourished Boer child in a British concentration camp. Over 26,000 Boer white women and children died during the Boer War in British camps, as well as over 10,000 blacks, thanks to Kitchener's brutal ethnic cleansing war policies to clear the area for the diamond and gold mining land grab for the British Empire.
A private photo album compiled by a man who was an extra in the film was acquired by this Collection in January 2013 and has 23 behind-the-scenes snapshots of some of Ohm Krüger's film sets and landscapes constructed outside of Berlin and in eastern Germany by Ufa. An album page showing the British concentration camp sets is shown below.
The French propaganda effort was unparallelled given the anti–British sentiment already existant in war–torn France after the bombing of the French fleet by Britain and the film provided opportunities for the Germans to exploit this. Here is a french Ohm Krüger comic strip poster (A3 size/approx. 12 inches x 17 inches):
The propaganda reach of the film during WWII was quite amazing. In the Philippines, occupied by Imperial Japan, the film was screened in Manila at the Ideal cinema on Riza Avenue, from 29 March 1944. The cinema advertisement for the film in LIWAYWAY magazine that month (shown below) reads in Tagalog
Showing at the Ideal Lyric Cinema from the 29th of March
This is performed by a great German actor Emil Jannings
with the help of Werner Hinz Gizela Uhern.
Here is the portrayal in a film you won't forget.....
the shame, the greediness, the bravery and the suspense
that are strongly performed......