Remembering pioneer East German filmmaker Kurt Maetzig
Kurt Maetzig, one of East Germany’s pioneering filmmakers, died on Aug. 8 at his home in the village of Wildkuhl, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in what used to be East Germany. Maetzig was 101.
According to the New York Times obit, at first the half-Jewish Kurt Maetzig (born Jan. 25, 1911, in Berlin) made films that “scrutinized anti-Semitism, corporate complicity with fascism and other fault lines in German society that had opened the way to Nazi rule.” Among Maetzig’s 30 narrative and documentary features are Marriage in the Shadows (1947), Council of the Gods (1950), The Sailor’s Song (1958), and The Rabbit Is Me (1965).
Kurt Maetzig: Socially conscious movies
Based on the true story of Meta and Joachim Gottschalk, Marriage in the Shadows follows an actor and his Jewish wife who ultimately decide to commit suicide so as to evade deportation to Nazi Germany’s death camps. In Council of the Gods, a chemical conglomerate profits from the Nazi regime by producing poison gas for the death camps. The Rabbit Is Me, for its part, attacked corruption in the East German justice system, landing Maetzig in trouble with that country’s communist authorities. The director had to offer a public apology.
Kurt Maetzig’s last movie was Man Against Man, released in 1976. The film earned Karin Schröder (tied with Hildegard Knef for Everyone Dies Alone) the Best Actress Award at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Kurt Maetzig image via DEFA.