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The History of German Cinema: 1931-1935














M (1931)




19/2 -

G. W. Pabst’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Die 3groschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), featuring a young Lotte Lenya, premieres in Berlin. [ADD]

Mar -

Charlie Chaplin’s visit to Berlin causes such a commotion that he is forced to cut it short. [ADD]

11/5 -

Fritz Lang’s classic M is released. Originally titled The Murderers Are Among Us, the film was renamed after pressure from the Nazi party, who suspected it was a reference to them. The film stars stage-actor Peter Lorre. [ADD]

30/6 -

Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front is finally passed for public screening by the censors against the protests of Hitler Youth groups and the Reichstag. [ADD]

17/11 -

G. W. Pabst’s Kameradschaft, filmed in the coal mines of the Pas-de-Callais region in France, is released. The film is based on a real-life mining catastrophe in Courrieres in 1906, and was made with the participation of local miners. [ADD]

28/11 -

Madschen in Uniform, Leontine Sagan’s study of adolescent lesbian love premieres in Berlin. [ADD]
    UFA make a film called The Many-Coloured World of Animals using an experimental new colour process. [ADD]

Other Key German Films of 1931

    Emil und die Detektive (1931)
    Berlin Alexanderplatz (Piel Jutzi [ADD]
    Dann schon lieber Lebertran (Max Ophuls) [ADD]
    Emil und die Detektive (Gerhard Lamprecht) [ADD]
    Der Kongress tanzt (Erik Charell) [ADD]
    Der Morder Dimitri Karamasoff (Fedor Ozep) [ADD]
    Wer nimmt die Liebe ernst? (Erich Engel) [ADD]



Das Blaue Licht (1932)


24/3 -

After appearing in four of Arnold Fanck’s mountain films, Leni Riefenstahl turns to directing with the release of Das Blaue Licht (The Blue Light). Riefenstahl also stars in the picture. [ADD]
  30/5 - Slatan Dudow’s Kulde Wampe oder: Wem gehort die Welt? is released after authorities lift its ban following protests. [ADD]

1/6 -

The negatives of Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished Que Viva Mexico!, which are in transit from America to Moscow, are intercepted by left-wing novelist Upton Sinclair, the film’s financial backer, and returned to Hollywood. [ADD] 
    Die verkauffe Braut (1932)
  18/8 - Max Ophuls' Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride), starring Jarmila Novotna and Karl Valentin, premieres in Munich. [ADD]

14/9 -


Der traumende Mund (Dreaming Lips), directed by Paul Czinner and Lee Garmes is released. The film stars Elisabeth Bergner and Rudolph Forster. Czinner also directs a French-language version starring Gaby Morlay and Pierre Blanchar. [ADD]
  15/9 - Fritz Lang starts filming Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse at the UFA studios in Neubabelsberg. [ADD]
  31/12 - UFA recovers from its financial crisis to employ 5,000 people under the management of Alfred Hugenberg. [ADD]
  – The Bavarian Film Company takes over the Emelka Film Studios in the Munich suburb of Gastelgasteig. [ADD] 
    Wilhelm Schneider, working for Agfa Filmfabrik in Wolfen, patents a technique for manufacturing a tripack colour film stock – a process which becomes known as Agfacolor. [ADD]
    – 127 films are produced in Germany in 1932. [ADD]



Die Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1933)

  10/3 - Max Ophuls' Liebelei is released in Leipzig. The UFA film stars Magda Schneider. [ADD]
  23/3 - The release of Fritz Lang’s Die Testament des Dr. Mabuse is cancelled on the orders of Josef Goebbels, head of the Ministry of Information and Propaganda. [MORE]
  28/3 - Josef Goebbels delivers a speech to film industry representatives at the Hotel Kaiserhof in Berlin, in which he states that, “Art is free. However it must conform to certain norms.” [MORE]
  28/3 - Fritz Lang flees Germany for Paris after a meeting with Josef Goebbels, during which the chief of information and propaganda offered him the position of supervisor of production at UFA. He leaves behind his wife (and Nazi sympathiser) Thea von Harbou. [ADD]
  29/3 - A spokesman for Goebbels issues a statement that Die Testament des Dr. Mabuse was banned because of its subversive nature, which was likely to “incite people to anti-social behaviour and terrorism against the State.” [ADD]
  20/4 - The German Ministry of the Interior revokes approval of Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel). [ADD]
  9/5 - UFA renounces its rights in Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) and Bombs – UFA Cabaret Film No. 7, which features scenes from Der Blaue Engel. [ADD]
  6/6 - The Nazi government decrees that Jews and foreigners are banned from working in the cinematographic industry. [MORE]
  Jun - The creation of the Filmkreditbank allows the state strict control over the financing of cinema productions. [ADD]
  11/9 - The Munich premiere takes place of Hans Steinhoff’s Hitlerjunge Quex, the story of Heine Volker who is fatally stabbed by communists when distributing election leaflets in Berlin. [ADD]
  3/10 - Hans Westmar, a thinly-veiled but heavily sanitised account of the life of Horst Wessel, is released. [ADD]
  31/12 -  A creative exodus from Germany takes place in 1933 following the rise to power of the Nazi party. Among those to flee are performers Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt and Elisabeth Bergner, directors Henry Koster, Robert Siodmak, Paul Czinner, Robert Wiene and Ewald-Andre Dupont, and cinematographers Karl Freund, Billy Wilder, Carl Mayer and Eugen Schufftan. [MORE]

Other Key German Films of 1933

    Brennendes Geheimnis (1933)
    Brennendes Geheimnis (Robert Siodmak) [ADD]
    Inge und die Millionen (Erich Engel) [ADD]
    Morgenrot (Gustav Ucicky) [ADD]
    S.O.S Eisberg (Arnold Fanck) [ADD]
    Viktor und Viktoria (Reinhold Schunzel) [ADD]



Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl


16/1 -

Josef Goebbels initiates the Film of the Nation prize, to be awarded to works of merit. [ADD]

29/1 -

The Reichsfilmarchiv, Germany’s film archive, is founded. Its opening is attended by Adolf Hitler. [ADD]

16/2 -

A law is passed giving the government power to intervene in all phases of film production and to exercise absolute control over the choice of subject matter, writers and directors. [ADD]

22/7 -

Government censors ban Jean Renoir’s adaptation of Zola’s novel Nana. The film stars Catherine Hessling, in the title role, and German actors Werner Krauss and Jewish actress Valeska Gert, who was compelled to emigrate from Germany in 1933. [ADD]

4/9 -

Adolf Hitler announces that Leni Riefenstahl will direct Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will), a documentary account of the Nazi Party’s Nuremburg Rally and its preparation. She will direct a crew of 120 people, and 32 cameras. [ADD]
    Tobis-Klangfilm have links to 24 of the remaining 49 production companies still in operation. [ADD]

Other Key German Films of 1934

    Der Herr Der Welt (1934)
    Der Herr der Welt (Harry Piel) [ADD]



Das Madchen Johanna (1935)


28/3 -

Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) premieres at the UFA Palast am Zoo in Berlin. A propagandistic account of the 1934 Nuremburg rally, the film seeks to deify Hitler and to emphasise the “order, unity and ambition of the Nationalist-Socialist Movement.” Hitler himself praised the film as an “incomparable glorification of the power and beauty of our Movement.” [ADD]

26/4 -

Gustav Ucicky’s Das Madchen Johanna (Joan of Arc) is released. The film, in which Angela Salloker plays the Maid of Orlean, is shown at the International Film Congress in Berlin. It presents Joan as a prototype Hitler, drawing parallels between the way they have both saved their people from despair. [ADD]

30/4 -

The International Cinema Congress in Berlin ends with a speech by Josef Goebbels in which he demands state support for film production, and the drawing up of a resolution advocating the creation of film archives [ADD]

Apr -

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels abolishes film criticism in favour of ‘reporting’. [ADD]

2/7 -

The Nazi government issues a decree that all motion pictures released before 30th January 1933 must be submitted to the censorship commission before 31st December 1935 for reassessment. [ADD]

31/12 -

It is reported that average film production costs in Germany have doubled because of the inflated salaries paid to stars and directors. [ADD]
    – Camera manufacturer Askania produces the 35mm Schulterkamera (shoulder camera), designed to fit on the cameraman’s shoulder. [ADD]
Other Key German Films of 1935
    Amphitryon (1935)
    Amphitryon (Reinhold Schunzel) [ADD]
    Der Alte und der Junge Konig (Hans Steinhoff) [ADD]
    Papageno (Lotte Reiniger) [ADD]
    Pygmalion (Erich Engel) [ADD]


Germany: 1926-1930

Germany: 1936-1940




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