Artikelnummer 102

ICH KLAGE AN (I Accuse) (1941) + ERBKRANK (The Hereditary Defective) (1936) *with switchable English subtitles*

Heidemarie Hatheyer, Paul Hartmann and Mathias Wieman, Wolfgang Liebeneiner

ICH KLAGE AN  (1941):

In this film, the wife of a renowned doctor becomes ill with multiple sclerosis.  Trying to spare her beloved husband the ordeal, the woman turns to a family friend, Dr. Lang, to help end her life.  When this doctor declines to help with the assisted suicide, however,  she is forced to turn to her husband.    After much soul-searching, Dr. Heyt, her husband, assists in her suicide.  The act, however, is witnessed by a chambermaid, who reports him to the police.  Dr. Heyt is put on trial for murder and, at first, Dr. Lang testifies against him in court.  Soon, however, Dr. Lang is faced with a similar case in his professional practice and this, along with Dr. Heyt’s impassioned performance in court, convinces Dr. Lang that, in some instances, mercy killing may be the right thing to do.  A very rare film, which, no matter on which side of the debate you stand, has relevance to this very day.  Powerfully emotional film.  Very good picture and sound quality; some dark pictures in places with poor lighting.   

In Liebeneiners berüchtigtem Film, der in enger Zusammenarbeit mit dem NS-Propagandaministerium entstand und durch sein Plädoyer für Sterbehilfe die staatliche Euthanasie-Politik unterstützen sollte, ist die Frau des Mediziners Dr.Heyt unheilbar an Multipler Sklerose erkrankt. Sie ersucht zunächst ihren Hausarzt Dr. Lang, einen Freund der Familie, ihrem Leiden ein vorzeitiges Ende zu setzen. Als dieser ablehnt, bittet sie ihren eigenen Mann. Heyt entspricht ihrem Wunsch und verabreicht ihr ein tödliches Gift. Als ein Dienstmädchen ihn anzeigt und es zum Prozess kommt, steht ihm Dr. Lang zunächst als Gegner gegenüber. Doch durch einen ähnlichen Fall in seiner eigenen Praxis und durch Heyts engagierten Auftritt vor Gericht ändert Lang schließlich seinen Standpunkt.

ERBKRANK (1936):

And then there was reality:  

This "educational" film deals directly with the subject of the mentally ill and the institutionalized.  It does not speak in the language of hate or discrimination:  on the contrary - it is logically and scientifically presented with chilling dispassion.  The "emotional" aspects of the narration appeal to the overall good and needs of society versus the care for and support of "lesser" individuals.  It is an insidious film.  The message is subtle and the conclusive decisions society needs to make are obvious.  The narration becomes especially chilling and powerful when, in hindsight, we know all too well how far the message became reality and that the overwhelming majority of those we see on the screen were eventually subjected to "mercy killing".  The comparison in costs to society to care for these people is no less offensive than the statement in the film that, "the farmer, by controlling the overgrowth of weeds, preserves what is most valuable."  When the film asks, near its end, "Are we to burden future generations with this inheritance?", you understand clearly what this film was preparing its viewers for, if  you, or they, couldn't figure it out up to that point.

A powerful, depressing and important documentary, if only because, like Ich Klage an, it addresses issues all contemporary societies deal with and which put into play ideas of charity, morals, self-sufficiency, and the rights of the individual in a given society.  The pictures shown are, overall, not offensive or shocking.  Sensitive viewers should take note, however, that much of what is said will shock and hurt terribly. If, as the saying goes, a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, then this film should leave no doubt that it was the moral duty of everyone during that time to fight and destroy fascism ... just as that duty continues to this day.  Silent German film with German intertitles and switchable English subtitles  (23 mins.).

TOTAL TIME:  133 Minutes  +  24 min. newsreel




REGION FREE (will play in any DVD player).


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