Ohm Krüger (1941)

Directed by: Hans Steinhoff
Produced by: Emil Jannings
Written by: Harald Bratt
Kurt Heuser
Song lyrics: Hans Fritz Beckmann
Music: Theo Mackeben
Cinematography: Fritz Arno Wagner
Edited by: Hans Heinrich
Martha Dübber


Emil Jannings: Paul, known as ‘Ohm’ Krüger
Lucie Höflich: Sanna, his wife
Werner Hinz: Jan Krüger
Gisela Uhlen: Petra, his Frau
Ernst Schröder: Adrian Krüger
Elisabeth Flickenschildt: Mrs. Kock
Ferdinand Marian: Cecil Rhodes
Gustaf Gründgens: Joseph Chamberlain
Eduard von Winterstein: Commandant Cronje
Hans Adalbert Schlettow: Commandant de Wett
Hedwig Wangel: Queen Victoria
Alfred Bernau: Prinz of Wales (later Eduard VII.)
Walter Werner: Deputy Kock
Paul Bildt: Dutch Foreign Minister
Werner Stock: Reporter
Gerhard Bienert: Scottish officer
Karl Martell: English officer
Franz Schafheitlin: Lord Kitchener
Harald Paulsen: French Foreign Minister
Hans Hermann Schaufuss: Military doctor
Jack Trevor: English High officer
Otto Wernicke: Commandant of the concentration camp
Karl Haubenreißer: Dr. Leander Jameson
Otto Graf: German Foreign Minister

The film opens with a dying Paul Krüger (Emil Jannings) speaking about his life to his nurse in a Geneva hotel. The rest of the film is told in flashback.

Cecil Rhodes (Ferdinand Marian) has a great desire to acquire land in the region of the Boers for its gold deposits. He sends Dr Jameson (Karl Haubenreißer) there to provoke border disturbances, and secures support from Joseph Chamberlain (Gustaf Gründgens). When Chamberlain seeks the support of Queen Victoria (Hedwig Wangel) and her son Edward, Prince of Wales (Alfred Bernau), she initially refuses but changes her mind when informed of the gold in the region. She invites Paul Krüger to London, and believes she is tricking him into signing a treaty.

Krüger, being suspicious of the British, has his own plans. Krüger signs the treaty which gives the British access to the gold; however, he imposes high taxes and establishes a monopoly over the sale of TNT which forces the British to buy explosives at high prices. Hence, ultimately, Krüger tricks the British by signing of the treaty. This impresses some of the British as they find Krüger is their equal in matters of cunning, which is supposed to be the defining characteristic of the British. Having been outmaneuvered, Rhodes tries to buy Krüger’s allegiance. Krüger and his wife Sanna (Lucie Höflich), however, are incorruptible. After being rejected, Rhodes shows Krüger a long list of members of the Boer council who work for the British. Krüger then becomes convinced that war is inevitable if the Boers are to keep their land. He declares war.

Initially, the Boers are in the ascendancy, leading Britain to appoint Lord Kitchener (Franz Schafheitlin) as Supreme Commander of the armed forces. Kitchener launches an attack on the civilian population, destroying their homes, using some as human shields and placing the women and children in concentration camps, in an attempt to damage the morale of the Boer Army.

Krüger’s son Jan (Werner Hinz), who has pro-British sentiments due to his Oxford education, visits a concentration camp to find his wife, Petra (Gisela Uhlen). He is caught and hanged, with his wife watching. When the women respond in anger, they are massacred.

The flashback concludes in the Geneva hotel room. A dying Krüger prophesies the destruction of Britain by major world powers, which will make the world a better place to live in.

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