Hitler: Beast of Berlin (1939)




Director:  Sam Newfield. 

Starring:  Roland Drew (Hans Memling), Steffi Duna (Elsa Memling), Greta Granstedt (Anna Wahl),  Alan Ladd (Karl Bach), Lucien Prival (Sachs), Vernon Dent (Lustig, beer garden bartender), John Ellis (Gustav Schultz), George Rosener (Wunderlich), Bodil Rosing (Frau Kohler), Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (Storm Trooper Albert Stalhelm), Willy Kaufman (Herr Kohler), Hans Joby (Kruger), Frederick Giermann (Father Pommer), Crane Whitley (Klee), Henry Zynda (Erlich).

 use of torture, imprisonment and concentration camps by Hitler's Germany



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

O.k. movie.  The picture is dedicated to the gallantry and heroism of a minority in Nazi Germany: Germans who opposed fascism and actively resisted. 

Karl, Schultz and Karl's brother-in-law, Hans, are drinking at a table at the local bar, when some Nazis come in.  The three men have to quickly change their conversation from one that is anti-fascist to one that is pro-Hitler.  These men with some women work together to write and publish in secret anti-fascist flyers.

 Han's wife Elsa, sister of Karl, is going to have a baby. 

The Gestapo discovers that anti-fascists are using the local bar as a meeting place.  Lusting, the bartender, is arrested and tortured and he gives them Hans's name. 

Hans and Elsa return to their apartment to find it all ripped apart.  The Gestapo was looking for the list of names of the anti-fascists but did not find it.  Hans burns the list.  Soon after this incident, the Gestapo arrests Hans.  They learn that Hans is an unemployed civil engineer, who was a 1st Lt. in the Air Corps.  They torture him, but he does not give up any information. 

There is an anti-fascist working inside the Gestapo.  He is torn up inside at having to help torture prisoners.  But one night his comrades get him extremely drunk and he lets escape that he must warn Elsa and the others of Han's arrest and torture.  The man is so drunk that he also reveals other names on the list of anti-fascists.  One of the Gestapo men shoots the "traitor" in the back, killing him. 

Hans and Karl land up in the concentration camp along with Father Pommer and a non-Aryan scientist.  Erlich visits Elsa, tells him about Hans, gives her some money and tells her to go see a lawyer who has good Nazi connections.  Elsa bribes the lawyer to take the case.  The orders are signed, but Hans gets in an argument with Col. Hess, the commandant of the concentration camp, and does not get released with the other releasees. 

Karl tries to escape, is spotted, shot and killed. 

Friends of Hans tell Elsa that she must get out of Germany.  She reluctantly agrees to travel to Switzerland.  Then the friends of Hans help him to escape while he is working out in the fields.  He is finally reunited with his wife and baby boy. 

When this film appeared in 1939, it was regarded as too controversial, because it was too critical of Nazi Germany.  In fact, it was banned in New York.  

The film seems rather prosaic now, but if this were 1939 we anti-fascists would have gone wild for it.  Finally, someone had the courage to tell the world just how terrible Hitler was.  Hitler the beast sums it up.  Maybe monster would have been good too.  The movie is only 107 minutes long but any viewer can easily understand the dangers of fascism in general and Herr Hitler in particular.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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