Hitler's Children (1943)

80 or 83 mins | Drama | 19 March 1943

Writer:

Emmet Lavery

Producer:

Edward A. Golden

Cinematographer:

Russell Metty

Editor:

Joseph Noriega

Production Designers:

Albert D'Agostino, Carroll Clark

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
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HISTORY

This film opens with a picture of Gregor Ziemer's novel Education for Death . As the book begins to seep blood, the film's credits appear. Ziemer, a news commentator and analyst for radio station WLW in Cincinnati, worked as an American educator in Germany before the war, according to news items in HR and PM magazine. Another news item in HR notes that the Allies dropped flyers containing a condensed version of Ziemer's best-selling novel over the captured countries of Europe. A pre-production news item adds that Ziemer was initially slated to write the script for this film. In 1942, Disney produced a one-reel film, titled Education for Death , based on Ziemer's novel. According to pre-production news items in HR , Martha Scott, Anita Louise and June Lockhart were considered for roles in this film. A HR news item lists Lucy Daniel and Edgar Barrier in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Another HR news item notes that Edward Dmytryk took over the direction from Irvin Reis on 19 Oct 1942. According to a NYT article, Reis stormed off the set because of his inability to work with Tim Holt and Bonita Granville. HR news items add that the U.S. Army Air Force delayed Holt's induction so that he could finish this picture. The vestments worn by H. B. Warner in the cathedral scene were over 400 years old, according to another news item in HR . In CBCS, the character of ... More Less

This film opens with a picture of Gregor Ziemer's novel Education for Death . As the book begins to seep blood, the film's credits appear. Ziemer, a news commentator and analyst for radio station WLW in Cincinnati, worked as an American educator in Germany before the war, according to news items in HR and PM magazine. Another news item in HR notes that the Allies dropped flyers containing a condensed version of Ziemer's best-selling novel over the captured countries of Europe. A pre-production news item adds that Ziemer was initially slated to write the script for this film. In 1942, Disney produced a one-reel film, titled Education for Death , based on Ziemer's novel. According to pre-production news items in HR , Martha Scott, Anita Louise and June Lockhart were considered for roles in this film. A HR news item lists Lucy Daniel and Edgar Barrier in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Another HR news item notes that Edward Dmytryk took over the direction from Irvin Reis on 19 Oct 1942. According to a NYT article, Reis stormed off the set because of his inability to work with Tim Holt and Bonita Granville. HR news items add that the U.S. Army Air Force delayed Holt's induction so that he could finish this picture. The vestments worn by H. B. Warner in the cathedral scene were over 400 years old, according to another news item in HR . In CBCS, the character of Colonel Henkel is named Colonel Schwartz.
       News items in HR offer the following information about the film's premiere: Prior to the Cincinnati premiere, RKO presented a special preview presentation in theaters across the country, donating the receipts to the League of Nations. The Cincinnati premiere was sponsored by radio station WLW and featured an appearance by Ziemer. Ticket sales for this film were three hundred percent above average, breaking all existing records and making it the champion "sleeper" in RKO history. Modern sources note that the film cost $205,000 to produce and returned $3,555,000 in film rentals. Bonita Granville's performance led to a new contract with the studio. According to the Var reviews, this was Edward Golden's first effort as a producer. A 1946 news item in HR reports that Golden rejected RKO's offer to buy his film rights for $500,000. Bonita Granville and Otto Kruger reprised their roles in a 24 May 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Jan 1943.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Jan 43
p. 5
Film Daily
7 Jan 43
p. 4.
Film Daily
15 Jan 43
p. 2
Film Daily
18 Jan 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Jan 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 46
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Jan 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Dec 43
p. 1057.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Jan 43
p. 1089.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 43
p. 1280.
New York Times
14 Feb 1943.
---
New York Times
25 Feb 43
p. 27.
New York Times
2 Sep 1944.
---
PM (Journal)
3 Jan 1943.
---
Variety
30 Dec 42
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Education for Death: The Making of a Nazi by Gregor Ziemer (London, 1941).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 March 1943
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Cincinnati, OH and surrounding cities: 14 January 1943
Production Date:
15615
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
22 January 1943
Copyright Number:
LP11908
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 83
Length(in feet):
7,502
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8878
SYNOPSIS

Professor Nichols, an American educator, recalls the halcyon days of 1933 Germany before the rise of Nazism: As a teacher at the American Colony School, "Nicky" encourages Anna Muller and his other students to question Germany's lust for land. Meanwhile, at the German school across the way, the stern Dr. Schmidt exhorts Karl Bruner and the other boys to consecrate their lives to Adolf Hitler. Karl, who is attracted to Anna, comes to the American school one day and strikes up a conversation with her. After he tells Anna that he is a German who was born in America, Anna responds that she is American born in Germany and is now living with her grandparents there. To nuture their friendship, Nicky invites Karl to join him and Anna on a picnic, and soon Karl is a regular participant in their weekly outings. While running through the woods one day, Anna sees a little boy bound and gagged, but when she tries to free him, Karl tells her that the boy is being tested for his fitness to join a Hitler Youth group. Nicky states that that was Karl's last picnic, for he became enveloped in the Nazi storm that was sweeping Germany. By 1939, the New Order is underway, and Anna is now Nicky's assistant. As the students at the American school gather to celebrate Memorial Day, the Gestapo arrives and demands custody of all Germans, Poles and Jews at the school. When Anna's name is called, Nicky objects and is taken to headquarters to speak to the lieutenant in charge. At headquarters, Nicky meets Lt. Karl Bruner, who asserts that ... +


Professor Nichols, an American educator, recalls the halcyon days of 1933 Germany before the rise of Nazism: As a teacher at the American Colony School, "Nicky" encourages Anna Muller and his other students to question Germany's lust for land. Meanwhile, at the German school across the way, the stern Dr. Schmidt exhorts Karl Bruner and the other boys to consecrate their lives to Adolf Hitler. Karl, who is attracted to Anna, comes to the American school one day and strikes up a conversation with her. After he tells Anna that he is a German who was born in America, Anna responds that she is American born in Germany and is now living with her grandparents there. To nuture their friendship, Nicky invites Karl to join him and Anna on a picnic, and soon Karl is a regular participant in their weekly outings. While running through the woods one day, Anna sees a little boy bound and gagged, but when she tries to free him, Karl tells her that the boy is being tested for his fitness to join a Hitler Youth group. Nicky states that that was Karl's last picnic, for he became enveloped in the Nazi storm that was sweeping Germany. By 1939, the New Order is underway, and Anna is now Nicky's assistant. As the students at the American school gather to celebrate Memorial Day, the Gestapo arrives and demands custody of all Germans, Poles and Jews at the school. When Anna's name is called, Nicky objects and is taken to headquarters to speak to the lieutenant in charge. At headquarters, Nicky meets Lt. Karl Bruner, who asserts that as a German citizen, Anna is subject to German law. When Nicky's entreaties to the American Embassy prove fruitless, he turns to his friend, journalist Franz Erhardt, for help. Franz, who is intimidated by his own little Nazi sons, is afraid to help Nicky, although he does suggest that Anna is probably being held at a labor camp. Nicky then goes to the Ministry of Education to petition a visit to the camp. There, he sees Karl, who orders him to give up his search for Anna. When Nicky agrees to do so if Anna is happy at the camp, Karl informs him that Anna is an instructor at the camp and takes him to see her. After Anna learns of Nicky's plans to free her, she insists that she wants to stay at the camp out of fear for his safety. Karl, who believes that Anna is becoming a "true German," tells her that he has recommended that she be allowed to study at the University of Berlin. Anna rejects his offer, however, and denounces his world as evil and rotten. When Anna formally declines the offer and disparages the "diseased New Order," Colonel Henkel, Karl's superior officer, sentences her to toil for one year at a labor camp. Henkel orders that Anna be kept under surveillance, and when Karl withholds reports of her defiant behavior, Henkel begins to doubt his loyalty. To test Karl, Henkel invites him and Nicky on a tour of the Ministry. Taking them to a clinic where women deemed unfit to have children are sterilized, Henkel announces that Anna's name has been placed on the patient list. After leaving the clinic, Karl finds Anna at the camp, and after warning her of the danger, declares his love for her. When Anna confesses that she also loves him, he suggests placating the state by having a baby, but Anna refuses, saying that the child would not be hers, but Hitler's. That night, Anna runs away and seeks refuge in a church. Soon after, the Gestapo arrives and orders the bishop to dismiss his parishioners so that they can find Anna. When, at the risk of his own life, the bishop defies their orders, Anna steps forward and surrrenders. Ordering Anna publicly flogged and then sterilized, Henkel sends Karl to the flogging as his representative. Unable to bear Anna's pain, Karl seizes the whip from her tormentor's hands and, after proclaiming his love for her, admits that he was wrong. Later, Franz informs Nicky that Anna has been sentenced to death, but Karl has recanted and will denounce his sins against the state in a nationwide broadcast of their trial. As Nicky and Franz are about to tune in the broadcast, the Gestapo arrives and orders Nicky to leave for Paris on the next plane. At the airport, as Franz walks Nicky to his plane, the trial begins and is broadcast over loudspeakers on the airstrip. In his opening statement, Karl quotes a poem by Goethe about freedom and, after observing that the German people have relinquished their freedom, proclaims "long live the enemies of Nazi Germany." Henkel reacts by ordering Karl and Anna executed in the courtroom, and the sounds of gunshots are heard over the speakers. Nicky then boards his plane and addresses the audience, telling them that "they must ask themselves tonight, before they go home, can we stop Hitler's children before it is too late?" +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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