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267 21 TheTrial Veit Harlan was not the only and not even the first German filmmaker to be put on trial for crimes against humanity. That dubious honor belonged to novelist Hans Zöberlein (1895–1964), who in 1934 had codirected the gritty World War I dramas Stosstrupp 1917 (Shock Troop 1917) and Um das Menschenrecht (Against the human right), conceived as counterpropaganda to Lewis Milestone’s film All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). Zöberlein’s films were quickly forgotten; his crimes were not. On April 28–29, 1945, he participated in the Penzberg Murder Night. Penzberg was a mining town south of Munich where a group of German resistance fighters wanted to contact U.S. and French troops. A larger part of the population decided to capitulate in solidarity with its slave workers. Part of a local lynch mob, Zöberlein assisted in rounding up sixteen people, including one pregnant woman, who were then hanged or shot. In a trial that began on June 14, 1948, the accused were sentenced to death, but then the death penalty was abolished in the western zone, and Zöberlein was released in 1958. The Harlan trial began on March 3, 1949, at the Hamburg Landgericht. Public interest proved overwhelming, and special tickets had to be printed, so that even Harlan almost did not get in. The court was presided over by judge Dr. Walter Tyrolf. Harlan’s defense was in the hands of Dr. Otto Zippel. The prosecutor, Oberstaatsanwalt Dr. Gerhard Kramer, had spent more than a year preparing a twenty-three-page indictment. The trial was to take three weeks and cost about 500,000 DM. Some thirty-five witnesses were called, and 155 files on the real Joseph Süss Oppenheimer stored in Stuttgart were consulted, as if the Süss case itself had to be revisited. Jud Süss novelist Lion Feuchtwanger was considered for an appearance but had to stay in the United States for health reasons. Intense hearings had already been conducted in Austria in which Werner Krauss had testified, veit harlan 268 so he did not have to repeat his testimony. The chief subject would be Harlan’s rise to fame, his economic situation, and his ability to reject an offer to direct Jud Süss. The defense demanded a screening of David Lean’s Oliver Twist to demonstrate how a work of art might have an anti-Semitic effect. A screening of Dr. Fritz Hippler’s shockumentary Der ewige Jude was also considered. The prosecution focused attention on Harlan’s earnings. Whereas he had been paid only 3,000 RM for Krach im Hinterhaus in 1935, he received between 10,000 and 12,000 RM for Die Kreutzersonate in 1936, and when he bought his house in the Tannenbergallee 28, valued at 110,000 RM, he was able to pay 30,000 RM out of his pocket. For Jud Süss in 1940, he was paid between 80,000 and 123,000 RM. For her portrayal of Dorothea Sturm in the same film, Kristina Söderbaum was paid 40,000 to 60,000 RM. This fee was not extraordinary: Zarah Leander, Emil Jannings, Paula Wessely, and Hans Albers were paid between 120,000 and 150,000 RM for each film they made. Heinrich George’s fee for Kolberg was 120,000 RM. The first day of the trial1 proved so uneventful that journalists did not know what to write about, and only Gabriele Tergit discovered a funny subject: Harlan’s size. She joked about him being “a small, grey-haired, stout man of fifty whom nobody would mistake for an artist’s son or even an artist himself.”2 His life data were read aloud, as if he were a common purse thief, and there was mention of his Silberschmiedlehre (silver-forging apprenticeship). He apparently had not known the literary sources for Jud Süss, having acquired his knowledge of Süss’s case from a current universal encyclopedia. On the second day of the trial, Eugen Klöpfer appeared, interrupting a tour through the South of Germany. He told the judge that on every day of shooting Jud Süss, he had been glad to leave the set, and he described his participation in this project as “not decent.” The following week Dr. Fritz Hippler was questioned. Kramer accused him of procuring and pimping; he allegedly had provided Goebbels with mistresses and put together a scrapbook full of risqué photos. When he...


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