The next two German Monday Film Shows will be dedicated to an important  date in German history  – the 20 July 1944  – when a group of German army officers attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This Monday’s film is an Arthur Brauner production from 1955 followed by the Hollywood production “Operation Walküre – Valkyrie” starring Tom Cruise on 3 March 

1955, 97 min. b/w, dir. Falk Harnack, script: Günther Weisenborn, starring Wolfgang Preiss, Maximilian Schell, English subtitles 

DATE: 24 February 2014

TIME: 5.00 p.m.

VENUE:  Howard College, MTB West Wing, 1st Floor, German Programme, Media Room F251 

About the film:
Bearing no titles except for an intro and concluding text, Der 20. Juli (1955) offers another perspective on the assassination plot that almost succeeded in killing Hitler in 1944. Director Falk Harnack, once a resistance member himself, shot a fabulous, never boring picture, eleven years after the attempted assassination. Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg (Wolfgang Preiss in an appropriate rôle), a leading member of the secret regime resistance group around Goerdeler and Beck (played by veteran actors Paul Bildt and Werner Hinz), decides to kill Hitler soon after his installment as chief of staff of Eastern replacement troops. After a first try has failed – General von Tresckow says: “That guy (Hitler) has even chance on his side” – , Stauffenberg himself places a time bomb in Hitler’s headquarters in Eastern Prussia. Then follows a minute description of the main events of the rest of the day, July 20, 1944.

Unlike the 1990 TV movie, The Plot To Kill Hitler, where the filmmakers tried to combine a backstory on von Stauffenberg’s war wounds, life at home with the wife and kids, meeting fellow plotters, and setting the plan into action, Der 20. Juli begins as von Stauffenberg returns from the front and makes first contact with conspirators, settling on Operation Valkyrie to take over Berlin after Hitler’s been neutered.

There are no scenes regarding the causes of von Stauffenberg’s war injuries or moments with family (there’s no hint that he has a wife and kids), virtually no music score to provoke audiences and few action scenes. Director Falk Harnack goes for a stark docu-drama style that presents as many of the facts as possible, with a lot more side scenes on the ideologies and clashing classes that merged to form an insurgent force against the Nazi regime. 

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Kind regards


Dr Marion Pape
Head, German Studies
University of KwaZulu-Natal
School of Arts
Durban, 4041
Tel: 0027-31-260 1086 / 2380
Fax: 0027-31-260 1242

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