Considered one of the most modern and experimental films in DEFA's history, the eccentric THE GLEIWITZ CASE (DER FALL GLEIWITZ) is the blunt, confrontational, minutely detailed fictional recreation of the infamous Gleiwitz... more » event at the beginning of World War II, told in a highly stylized visual manner that recalls Leni Riefenstahl's 'The Triumph of the Will'.
THE GLEIWITZ CASE offers an almost documentary account of the events surrounding the Nazi's staged attack on a radio transmitter near Gleiwitz on the German-Polish border on August 31st, 1939. Under the command of SS officer Helmut Naujocks, six ethnic Germans living in Poland are selected and prepared for the secret operation--to take over the station and create the appearance of an assault, complete with radio message by the alleged Polish insurgents. One dead concentration camp inmate in Polish uniform is left behind as proof of the attack. This little-known "incident" gave the Third Reich a reason for invading Poland and, in so doing, starting World War II.
THE GLEIWITZ CASE accomplishes the reconstruction of an event as well as the deconstruction of fascist film imagery by using a style that recalls the convergence of aesthetics and politics under fascism. The chilling beauty of the images and the compulsively linear narrative offer disturbing insights into the collective mentality of the protagonists. The carefully composed shots of ordinary settings and locations, the hard lighting and low camera angles, and geometrical configurations are deliberate references to the techniques used by Leni Riefenstahl in 'Triumph of the Will'.« less
Films an overlooked chapter of World War II history
Gerard D. Launay | Berkeley, California | 05/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most of us don't know what the pretext was for Germany invading Poland in 1939. This little known film fills in the blanks. The Germans staged a fake raid on a border town, dressed up a concentration camp inmate as a Polish soldier, then killed him as evidence of a Poland invasion. (The Germans also faked their "anger" in the Kristallnacht incident against the Jewish people in their territories).
A number of factors make this film interesting. First of all...it is by a German director criticising his own people. Second, the film is a scathing indictment of Leni Riefenstahl who used revolutionary cinematic art to make the Nazis look powerful. Here the camerman uses the same style to make the Nazis look inhuman, evil, mechanistic. Many intriguing photographic and musicial touches are used in the filming, and I found the end product appropriately chilling and very effective. For those interested in a forgotten incident of Nazi history, this movie is a must-see."
Donald A. Brodzik | 02/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"German film, English subtitles. Style is truely avant-garde and a play on leni Riefenstahl"s style. Based on the Nazi fabrication of a Polish attack on a Gleiwitz radio station in Germany. Used as a pretext for Hitler's invasion of Poland. There was only so much provacation AH could take. Lies and fabrications of this type seem to be quite even in our day, nicht wahr? The German is very clear too, so a double treat for students of the language. A very sobering film. The result, over 40 million dead and Europe devastated. And what have we learned?"
A brilliant Riefenstahl parody
Kerry Walters | Lewisburg, PA USA | 07/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The historical inspiration for "The Gleiwitz Case" is the phony Polish raid on a German radio station staged by the Nazis to justify the invasion of Poland. I don't know how accurate to the actual events the film is, and to be honest I don't much care. Because the genuine value of "Gleiwitz" is its success in brilliantly satirizing the nonsensical Volk und Vaterland cinematic glorification of Nazism directed by Leni Riefenstahl.
Produced by East Germany's state-controlled DEFA, "Gleiwitz" is presented in a documentary-style format. The theme music is tinny, carnivalesque, almost cartoonish, letting the viewer know right away that a parody is going on. The images of goose-stepping, fencing, saluting, perfectly uniformed Nazis gives the impression of a huge, impersonally precise machine: the sort of thing that Riefenstahl valorized comes across here as both chilling and slightly comical.
The cinematography is really quite clever: a sense of frenetic build-up to war is expressed in a train scene in which Germans gobble food as the German army will soon gobble up Poland. A bar scene of men crooning a drinking song blends into the rhymic clanging of military transport railway cars. There's a wonderful scene in which rifles are held by soldiers in such a way as to make them look like erect phalluses--subtle, not overdone, but definitely noticeable to the quick eye. And the flashback scenes of the protagonist Alfred Naujocks' earlier years give us the life history of a murderer that, again, effectively combines the chilling with the comical.
"The Gleiwitz Case" is as effective an anti-war film as I've ever seen. Heartily recommended."
Right Stuff | Boston, MA | 03/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To compare the invasion of Poland to the invasion of Iraq is outrageous. Ask the Kurds about the "alleged weapons of mass destruction"! Maybe if the allies had the nerve for pre-emptive war against the Nazi's before 1939 maybe 40 million people would not have had to die. The Poles suffered horrifically at the hands of both the Nazis and then by the Soviets."
Historic Event With Contemporary Comparisons
S. A. Costa | California, USA | 12/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film details the events leading up to the Nazi german invasion of Poland in September 1939. It shows how the Germans hell bent on invading Poland dummied up false evidence as a pretext to invasion. This was accomplished by a fake "attack" ostensably by "Polish" forces on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on the Polish/German border which in reality was accomplished by German agents in Polish uniforms. Acting upon this "outrage" the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler declares war on Poland and promptly invades the country. Sounds all too familiar to today's sabre rattling rhetoric in regards to Iraq and the alleged "weapons of mass destruction" as a pretext to invade a foreign power by means of planning and waging aggressive warfare. Highly recommended!"