This is one of the most repellent propaganda films of the Third Reich, which depicts the Poles and the Jews in Poland before the outbreak of war in September 1939 as racial enemies of the hard–working German population who were for centuries citizens and residents in the East and found themselves in an imposed post-WWI Poland after the defeat of Germany. The film depicts Jewish children burning down a "Volksschule" and attacking the German students who try to save their school; the hatred of the Germans by the Polish city bureaucrats; the unprovoked attack of a German couple in a movie theatre by Polish audience members leading to the man's death; and a German farm woman being stoned to death by an angry mob. When war breaks out the German civilians –men, women and children – are herded by the Polish Army into a prison, and await their massacre by machine–gun. The German Wehrmacht comes to their rescue just in time, and the Germans then return to the Reich and its safety. As a film historian in the 2014 documentary Verbotene Filme (Blueprint Film, Germany) states, projected onto the Poles were all the characteristics and activities which during the invasion and conquering of Poland after September 1939 were visited upon them by the Germans.
The William Gillespie collection does not have an original poster for this film. The poster looks like this:
In February 2015 we acquired a well–preserved rare Occupied France advertisement for the film.
The Collection has 23 original lobby cards and press photos for the film, the Ufa film studio pressbook for the film (despite it being a "Wien Film" production) and the world premiere opening night program booklet– a slick, glossy publication with gold cord and glossy Kromekote type paper, with an introductory message from Reichsminister Dr. Goebbels, and a message also from the Reichsstatthalter of Vienna, Baldur von Schirach; a film synopsis, credits, and a number of film stills reproduced inside. The opening night program cover is shown here:
The Collection also has four rare behind–the–scenes press photos of the building of the sets in Occupied Poland and interior shots of the director and his camera crew at work:
Finally, the Collection has a school classroom filmstrip for Heimkehr. The film was shown to students across the Reich, and was voted in a 1943 national survey of students as the fifth (5th) most popular film amongst students out of hundreds of feature films ranked. (JUGEND UND FILM, A.U.Sander, Das Junge Deutschland, Zentralverlag der NSDAP; Franz Eher Verlag, 1944 Berlin.) The filmstrip and some infamous scenes from the film are shown here, copied off of the filmstrip:
The film was an official (prize winning) German entry into the 1941 Venice Film Festival, which Dr. Goebbels attended – shown here in the Agenzia Fotografica Internazionale press photo taken on 31 August 1941 - in the company of Italian Propaganda Minister Pavolini: