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The Gleiwitz Case


DEFA/First Run
70 min., in German w/ English subtitles
Not rated, DVD

"One of the finest films from the East German government-sponsored DEFA film library,
this 1961 effort meticulously recreates the sham that launched World War II:  an alleged
Polish incursion on German territory that purportedly justified the Nazi invasion.  In fact,
the whole shebang was orchestrated by the Third Reich and involved six Germans
pretending to be Polish nationals staging a raid on a Nazi radio station at the Germany-
Poland border town of Gleiwitz, after which the faux-Poles would take over the airwaves,
inciting the German public.  Topping off the illogical scheme, a concentration camp
prisoner dressed in a Polish uniform is brought to the station to be shot dead and left as
evidence of the alleged Polish invasion.  At a taut 70 minutes, the film wastes no time,
keeping the action moving at lightning speed, while the harsh black-and-white
cinematography creates a noir-style atmosphere for director Gerhard Klein's unpredictable
scene compositions (closer to Eisenstein than to Riefenstahl, despite the press release
notes).  DVD extras include an interesting featurette on editor Evelyn Carow, who recalls
the travails of making this film under censorship-minded East German supervision.  Highly

P. Hall

Review reprinted from July/August 2006 issue of "Video Librarian"

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