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Otto John - A German Story (Otto John - Eine deutsche Geschichte)

Otto John - A German Story

On 20 July 1954, the tenth anniversary of the failed assassination attempt on Hitler, Otto John, the president at the time of the "Bundesamt fuer Verfassungs-schutz", took part in the memorial service in West Berlin as one of the few surviving conspirators. That same night, he disappeared. Shortly afterwards, he reappeared in the East German media and criticised the rearmament of the Federal Republic of Germany as being an obstacle to the reunification of Germany. Did he go over to the East voluntarily or was he kidnapped? In December 1955, he came back to the West, was arrested and sentenced to four years imprisonment. Since his release, he has fought tirelessly for decades for the repeal of this judgement. His portrayal is complemented by statements by, among others, Markus Wolf, the former head of the East German secret service, the Danish journalist Henrik Bonde-Henrikesen who made it possible for John to return to the Federal Republic, and a woman witness who has only recently surfaced.


Erwin Leiser was born in Berlin in 1923 and left Germany after the November-Pogrom in 1938. He came to Sweden, studied at the university of Lund and became a journalist and writer. Since 1959 he has mainly worked as a director and author of documentary films. His first film, Mein Kampf (1960) was an international success and has been shown in a hundred countries. Since 1961 he has been living in Zurich, where most of his later films have been produced for cinemas and television networks in Europe, USA, Canada and Asia. His most well-known films are Mein Kampf (1960), Eichmann und das dritte Reich (1961), Wähle das Leben (1963), Zum Beispiel Fritz Lang (1968), Die Mitläufer (1985), Pimpf war jeder (1993), Feindbilder (1995), Otto John: Eine deutsche Geschichte (1995) and Zehn Brüder sind wir gewesen (TV, 1995). Erwin Leiser died on August 22, 1996.
Category Documentary
Director Erwin Leiser
Screenplay Erwin Leiser
Cinematography Peter Warneke
Thea Eymèsz
Cast Otto John
Production Company E.M.L. Film/Berlin, in co-production with Erwin Leiser Filmproduktion/Zurich
Length 90 min
Format 16 mm, color, b&w
Original Version
 German
Sound Technology Optical
Festivals Locarno 95, Leipzig 95: Egon-Erwin-Kisch-Preis
With backing from Eurimages, Berliner Filmfoerderung
German Distributor Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek/Berlin

World Sales
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