Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Part of the restoration and reissue film series coordinated by the DEFA film library at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and First Run Features, the 1961 period piece The Gleiwitz Affair heralded a new experimental cinema from the German Democratic Republic. Though initially misread as Nazi propaganda, it is now lauded by The Village Voice, in 40-year hindsight, as a kind of cinematic revisionism that parodies and deconstructs Leni Riefenstahl's propagandistic style. This historical drama carries viewers back to 1939, with a dramatization of an international scam designed and enacted by Adolf Hitler's Nazi government. In late August of that year, top Nazi officials covertly delivered six Secret Service-trained Polish officers to the city of Gleiwitz, near the Polish border. The officials then dressed a concentration camp prisoner in a Polish military uniform, shot him, and deposited him in Gleiwitz. The Nazis thus faked a "Polish invasion" and internationally "justified" the need for the September 1, 1939, German invasion of Poland -- led by the six Poles -- that brought the Danzig crisis to a scorching climax. Gerhard Klein directs this harrowing drama, from a script by Wolfgang Kohlhaase and Günther Rücker.
concentration-camp, disguise, German [nationality], Nazi, Polish [nationality], world-war