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Schleyer: Ein deutsches Leben

Schleyer: Ein deutsches Leben
Lutz Hachmeister (photo © HMR Produktion)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 04/2002

The 1977 kidnapping and subsequent murder of businessman Hanns Martin Schleyer was one of the most spectacular political crimes in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. The video pictures sent by his captors, the left-wing terrorist organization, the Red Army Faction or RAF, remain burned into the popular imagination, even today. But what actually happened still remains shrouded in mystery, and efforts to research Schleyer’s career have often drawn a blank.

With Schleyer: Ein deutsches Leben, author-director Lutz Hachmeister presents, for the first time, a factually accurate yet dramatically moving account of the man whose fate shook the nation.

Schleyer, the son of a conservative judge from Offenburg, was one of the young, radical, Nazi functionaries of the 1930s. Following post-war internment, his career took off when he joined Daimler Benz in 1951. The man who was to earn the nickname, the “Boss of Bosses”, drew the RAF terrorists like a “magnet”, according to convicted kidnapper Stefan Wisniewski.

Yet in an article written in 1975 for Stern magazine, reporter Kai Hermann described how he found it difficult “not to find Schleyer spontaneously sympathetic.” Herman wrote: “he does not lie, does not gloss over things, makes no excuses. He has an unbroken relationship with his past.”

For his portrait of Schleyer and the accompanying book, Hachmeister approached various archival sources, members of the Schleyer family, those who shared his career path, as well as his friends. Assistants and colleagues from Daimler Benz, various industrial associations and his negotiating partners from the unions; all take their turn in describing the man they knew. Hachmeister has also acquired extensive audio-visual material from the 1960s and 70s. Finally, the film will show which picture the RAF-kidnappers had of Schleyer and what they really knew about his biography.

Genre Biopic
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2002
Director Lutz Hachmeister
Screenplay Lutz Hachmeister
Cinematography Thomas Schaefer, Hajo Schomerus
Guido Krajewski
Producers Lutz Hachmeister, Hartmut Klenke
Production Company Doc.Station Medienproduktion, Hamburg, in co-production with HMR Produktion/Cologne
Format DigiBeta PAL, color
Shooting Dates Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Cologne, Heidelberg, Monaco, July-D
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

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