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The Feature Film Der Rat der Götter (GDR, 1950, directed by Kurt Maetzig)

Still from the film “Der Rat der Götter” (1950)'© DEFA Foundation / Gerhard Kowalewski
Still from the film “Der Rat der Götter” (1950)
© DEFA Foundation / Gerhard Kowalewski

In 1933, the bosses of a large German chemical concern pave the way for Hitler’s rise to power: Thus begins the story line of the feature film Der Rat der Götter (The Council of the Gods), which deals with the history of I.G. Farben. The film adheres throughout to the Communist theory of fascism. Hitler is largely unidimensional: a creature of capital. Thus the story continues: While the directors assist Germany’s military buildup, they continue to cultivate their business dealings with the U.S. company Standard Oil in order to have joint control of the world market. Some directors now carve out careers with the Nazis, while the engineer Dr. Scholz, who comes from a working-class family, has nothing but scientific progress in mind. His discoveries in the field of so-called hydrazine research make it possible to develop a new poison gas. Father Karl warns his son of the consequences of this production, but Dr. Scholz refuses to believe what he sees. The chemical corporation delivers crate after crate of the poison to Auschwitz. Not until the war’s end are Scholz’s eyes opened. Now the Allies entrust him with the resumption of civilian production, while the directors and board members are brought before the court in the I.G. Farben Trial in Nuremberg. The trial is a farce, however, as the film seeks to make clear with its satirically exaggerated devices. In the process, not much remains of the true gravity of the Nuremberg prosecutors. In the end, the old elites assume power at the plant once again, assisted by their American friends of old, and start producing explosives for the next war. A powerful explosion shakes the plant and claims numerous victims. This time the workers do not let themselves be deceived. The shot of their demonstration dissolves into newsreel photos of mass concentrations of troops defending the “world peace camp” of the Warsaw Pact against aggression from the West.

(HL; transl. KL)


Title: Der Rat der Götter (The Council of the Gods)

Country: GDR

Year: 1950

Direction: Kurt Maetzig

Script: Friedrich Wolf / Philipp Gehecht

Cast: Paul Bildt (Privy Councilor Mauch), Fritz Tillmann (Dr. Hans Scholz), Willy Kleinau (Mr. Lawson), Hans-Georg Rudolph (Director Tilgner), Albert Garbe (Uncle Karl), Helmut Hinzelmann (Colonel Schirrwind), Inge Keller (Edith Scholz), Yvonne Merin (Claudia Mauch)

Production: DEFA

Length: 101 min.