GDR, 1949, 84 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


Rotation portrays the story of an apolitical working-class family that nevertheless gets drawn into collusion with Nazi policies. The apolitical mechanic Hans Behnke considers joining the Nazi party to improve his financial standing. When he helps friends print resistance leaflets, however, his son, a member of the Hitler Youth, betrays him and he gets sent to prison. After the war, father and son meet again.


Another classic film by Wolfgang Staudte (The Murderers Are among Us), it explores the individual’s struggle within a murderous dictatorship. It was censored by Soviet authorities in East Germany because of its pacifist message and the inclusion of footage from Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (1936).


Rotation is ranked by film critics as one of Germany's 100 Most Important Films.


1954 Golden Leopard, Locarno Film Festival

Press comments

"One of the artistically most interesting productions of the early East German cinema. Astonishing in its power and clarity."
Süddeutsche Zeitung


"This film explains why so many Germans went along with the Nazi political system and enabled its crimes."
— Heinz Kersten, Film Journalist


"A penetrating film of elevated artistic quality. Astonishing in its power and clarity."
Films in the GDR, Catholic Institute for Media Research


"Highly recommended! Rotation is a powerful film not only for its dissection of a family racked by internal strife, but also for its willingness to address the anti-Semitic campaigns that fueled Nazi policies, providing valuable insight into the conflicted German mindset during this tumultuous era."
Video Librarian


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DVD Bonus Features:
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  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Newsreels about the film
  • Interview with film historian Christiane Mückenberger
  • Time Line: Cold War 1945-1965
  • Photo Gallery

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