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Fritz Bauer - Death by Instalments (Fritz Bauer - Tod auf Raten)

Fritz Bauer - Death by Instalments
Scene from "Fritz Bauer - Death by Instalments" (photo © CV Films)

Fritz Bauer was probably the most renowned state prosecutor the Federal Republic has ever had. He saw himself as a ‘lawyer out of a sense of freedom’ and was convinced that the nation’s citizens had the right to resist against state acts of an arbitrary nature. He was prepared to stand up for this right in 1952 and 1953 as Attorney General for Lower Saxony in a spectacular trial regarding the legitimacy of the coup of 20 July 1944 (Operation Valkyrie) against Hitler. Bauer succeeded in rehabilitating the executed conspirators. This verdict made him a pioneer of modern ‘civil society’ thought. He applied the same focus to the illumination and avengement of Nazi crimes. As Attorney General for Hessen from 1956–1968, he was the key initiator in the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials. Bauer also played an important role in the seizure of Adolf Eichmann: he informed Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad of the whereabouts of the ‘architect of the Holocaust’ so that Eichmann could be brought to trial in Jerusalem. Under his watch, Fritz Bauer also pushed for reforms to the penal system, the humanization of which was, he believed, integral to a humane society.

During the restorative climate of the Adenauer era, Bauer became the ‘agent provocateur of the age’. Essays and talks with titles such as ‘Murderers Among Us’ and ‘At the End Came the Gas Chambers’ provoked criticism not only from right-wing radicals but also middle-class audiences. The life of this Swabian Jew was subject to anti-Semitism and political hostility. Bauer perceived the passing of the German Emergency Acts in May 1968 as a particularly heavy blow and felt that this was an irreparable turning point towards an authoritarian state. He was found dead in his Frankfurt apartment on 30 June 1968. The circumstances of his death have remained unsolved to this day.


Ilona Ziok was born in Gliwice/Poland and grew up in England, Germany and France. She studied in New York, Moscow and Frankfurt. Also active as a writer and producer, her films as an author and director include the documentaries: Der zweite Sieg des Jurij Vlasov (1989), Du mein Kazimierz, Shalom (1990), Wo ist die Strasse, wo ist das Haus (1991), Die Reise nach Tunesien: Psychisch Kranke machen Urlaub (1993), Kurt Gerrons Karussell (1999), The Sounds of Silents - Willy Sommerfeld, der Stummfilmpianist, 2006), Der Junker und der Kommunist (2009), and Fritz Bauer - Tod auf Raten (2010).
Genre History, Thriller, Biopic
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2010
Director Ilona Ziok
Screenplay Ilona Ziok
Cinematography Jacek Blawut
Pawel Kocambasi
Producers Ilona Ziok, Manuel Goettsching
Production Company CV Films/Berlin, in co-production with SR/Saarbrücken
Length 100 min
Format color, b&w
Original Version
 German/English
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Stereo
Festivals Berlin 2010
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Informations- und Presseamt der BRD, FES Stiftung, Otto Brenner Stiftung, Hessische Filmfoerderung

World Sales (please contact)
CV Filmproduktions GmbH
Ilona Ziok, Manuel Goettsching
Postfach 330152
14171 Berlin/Germany
phone +49-30-23 62 71 67
fax +49-30-2 13 59 77
cvfilmsberlin@aol.com