Ohm Kruger: The Genesis of a Nazi Propaganda Film

By Hallstein, Christian W. | Literature/Film Quarterly, January 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Ohm Kruger: The Genesis of a Nazi Propaganda Film


Hallstein, Christian W., Literature/Film Quarterly


The invasion of Poland having been successfully completed in the early autumn of 1939 and the campaigns in Norway, Denmark, and western Europe in the following spring, the Nazi war machine set its sights on Great Britain. In order to galvanize the German public for a military offensive that would undoubtedly meet with much greater resistance than had been encountered heretofore, Joseph Goebbels and the Ministry for Propaganda authorized the production of several films designed to stir up anti-British sentiment among the German people. The more modestly budgeted films dealt with British colonial affairs in Africa and the Irish struggle for independence.1 But the cornerstone of the antiBritish propaganda2 effort was clearly Ohm Kruger, a 1941 Tobis release concerning Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal from 1883 until 1902, and his struggle against British imperialism before and during the Boer War.

Among noted commentators on Nazi propaganda films, only Richard Taylor, David Welch, and most recently Klaus Kanzog have dealt with Ohm Kruger in any detail. Taylor offers a general commentary on the major scenes (207-15), and Welch, in a more substantive discussion, focuses on the film's anti-British theme in the general context of Nazi representations of the enemy (271-80). Kanzog offers a wealth of information about the background of the film and its reception, summarizes the plot, and mentions a few of the differences between the film and the literary material on which it is based (253-65). In this paper I offer a more comprehensive analysis of Ohm Kruger as an example of Nazi propaganda with special reference to its major themes and the composition of its screenplay, which sheds light on how propaganda was often presented in the form of a feature film.

Hans Steinhoff assumed the artistic direction of Ohm Kruger and was assisted, according to the film's credits, by Herbert Maisch and Karl Anton.3 Emil Jannings, along with playing the title role, was responsible for the general direction or "Gesamtleitung." Other well- known actors include Gustav Grundgens as British colonial minister Joseph Chamberlain, Ferdinand Marian as Cecil Rhodes, Werner Hinz as Jan Kruger (the president's son), and Otto Wernicke as the British commandant.

More money was spent on the production of Ohm Kruger (RM 5,477,000) than for any other film of the period except Kolberg, the monumental epic about the Napoleonic Wars (RM 8,800,000), and Munchhausen, the classic comedy-adventure film (RM 6,602,000) (Albrecht 417-29). The Propaganda Ministry awarded Ohm Kruger the following ratings:

1) politically and artistically valuable

2) culturally valuable

3) valuable for the national character

4) educational

5) valuable for youth4

Perhaps most importantly, the film was designated as the very first "Film of the Nation" (Albrecht 553).

The story of Ohm Kruger contains both historical and fictional elements. Paul Kruger's conflict with Cecil Rhodes and the British colonial ministry and the Boer War itself are, of course, based on historical fact. But the film also contains a plot line concerning a fictional conflict between Kruger and his son Jan. In the film the latter is an Oxford-educated lawyer who returns to South Africa with a decided predilection for the British way of life, much to the chagrin of his vehemently anti-British father. When the Boer War breaks out, Jan decides to retire to his farm with his wife and children to avoid having to participate in the conflict. But the war unexpectedly comes to him. A British sergeant arrives one evening at Jan's home demanding lodging for his troops. When the impudent intruder begins to molest Jan's wife Petra, he hits the slovenly Englishman on the head with a whiskey bottle and kills him. Then, in one of the film's least convincing moments, the legendary Boer general Christian de Wet heroically enters the Kruger home, having easily routed the sergeant's men, whereupon Jan spontaneously decides to leave his family and join the Boers' fight for freedom from British domination. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ohm Kruger: The Genesis of a Nazi Propaganda Film
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.