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Unworthy of Life (Lebensunwert)

Unworthy of Life
Scenes from "Unworthy of Life" (photos © Josef von Rueden / Krieg & Nolte)

Shame never silenced Paul Brune. One of hundreds of thousands declared 'unworthy of living' under Nazi racial laws, he is one of the very few to publicly fight for rehabilitation. For psychiatrist Dr. Heinrich Stolze, member of the National Socialist Party, the fact that Paul's mother was declared a 'mentally ill epileptic' was enough to conclude: "Because of markedly anti-social behavior, it is not possible for him to remain in the school and the orphanage." Stolze 'selected' the afflicted and was responsible for the transports to the extermination camps of the Euthanasia Campaign. Paul Brune survived.

By focusing on Paul Brune's story, the film reveals a dark chapter in German psychiatry, which didn't exactly end in 1945. Paul Brune was permanently committed to a detention hospital. But there he found someone who helped him. A Catholic priest, convicted of child abuse, taught him to writer letters – also to the guardianship court. This, as last, yielded results. Paul Brune was released and placed into family care. But the discharge diagnosis was still: 'psychopathy'. Not until 1957 did he succeed in having the guardianship order revoked.

Paul Brune studied German and Philosophy in order to become a grammar school teacher, however he was never employed as a teacher. Decades later, the consequences of once being condemned 'unworthy of life' have caught up with Paul Brune again.


Robert Krieg was born in 1949 in Bad Ems. After studying Sociology, Journalism and Ethnology, he began teaching at the Dortmund Polytechnic and the universities in Osnabrueck and Bielefeld. From 1977-1982, he was involved in social research on the topics of Marginalisation and Migration. In 1983, he started writing and directing documentaries and television reports and in 1997 co-founded World TV with Monika Nolte. A selection of his films includes: Intifada (1989), On the Borderline (Besetzter Traum, 1991), Letter from Cuba (Carta de Cuba, 1992), I Came to Palestine (Ich kam nach Palastina, 1998), Adiós General (1999), Europe Was So Close - Novi Sad in the Year After the Nato Bombs (Europa war so nah - Novi Sad nach den Nato-Bomben, 2000), White Gold - The Salt of the Desert (Weisses Gold - Das Salz der Wueste, 2001), The Provinces, the Revolt and Life Thereafter (Die Provinz, die Revolte und das Leben danach, 2004), Unworthy of Life (Lebensunwert, 2005), and A Village in Europe (Ein Dorf in Europa, 2007), among others.
Genre Educational, History
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2005
Director Robert Krieg
Screenplay Robert Krieg, Monika Nolte
Cinematography Peter Petrides
Robert Krieg, Monika Nolte
Michael Goetz
Producers Robert Krieg, Monika Nolte
Production Company World TV Krieg & Nolte, in co-production with WDR, Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe
Length 45 min
Format color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Version English
Sound Technology Mono
Festivals Human Rights Festival Nuremberg 2005, FIPATEL Biarritz 2006, Basel-Karlsruhe Forum 2006
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW
German Distributor World TV Krieg & Nolte

World Sales
World TV Krieg & Nolte GbR
Robert Krieg, Monika Nolte
Constantinstrasse 80
50679 Cologne/Germany
phone +49-2 21-88 24 34
fax +49-2 21-81 88 30
info@krieg-nolte.de
http://www.krieg-nolte.de