Exclusive IHF Deluxe DVD Release! With Newly Recorded Optional English Soundtrack!
The Condor Legion In Action: Karl Ritter's Documentary on the Spanish Civil War
IN BATTLE AGAINST THE ENEMY OF THE WORLD: GERMAN VOLUNTEERS IN SPAIN (Condor Legion) (Im Kampf Gegen den Weltfeind: Deutsche Freiwillige in Spanien)
When Generalissimo Francisco Franco led a nationalist uprising in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) against the Communist-dominated Spanish Republic, Adolf Hitler promptly dispatched German volunteers, soon named the Condor Legion, to support Franco’s army. “In a faraway land, they are to represent the greatness of Germany, the fame of German arms, the determined will of the renewed Reich.” The Republic was heavily buttressed by troops from the Soviet Union, as well as England, France, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. Realizing that a documentary about the conflict would serve Germany’s propaganda aims, the Führer invited Karl Ritter, a Luftwaffe Major and Germany’s most acclaimed cinema propagandist, to dinner at the Reich Chancellery where he assigned him the task of directing a film on the Spanish Civil War that would glorify Germany’s military might. Ritter's account of the long and horrific conflict, with its massive strategic aerial bombardment,
was filmed during the actual battles by Ritter and his cameramen. One startling scene depicts British and American prisoners speaking English, in stark contrast to the German narration, and being asked, "Why did you come here to kill us?" (It is not known what became of these prisoners, whether any survived the war to return home and even whether any might still be alive.) The documentary covers the full extent of the war until the Bolsheviks (“the enemy of the world!”) are crushed, Barcelona is liberated, and the flames of civil war are extinguished. The picture ends with Franco’s glorious march-past, where he is saluted as the liberator of Spain from Communism; the triumphant welcoming home of German forces in Hamburg aboard the liner Wilhelm Gustloff; and rousing speeches by Hermann Göring and the Führer himself at the victory parade in Berlin. Ufa’s Im Kampf gegen den Weltfeind premiered on June 15, 1939 but was pulled from distribution on September 7 once the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed in August. The hero of the film is the Condor Legion, about which Karl Ritter soon started filming a dramatic feature, Legion Condor. That project was quickly shelved on August 25 when all planes and troops were rushed to the east for Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Ritter's gifts as a film maker lay in putting across a strong message. Had Germany won the war, his films would have been remembered as classic morale-boosting pictures. There have been numerous Hollywood films favoring the Republican Loyalist side of the war (For Whom the Bell Tolls), but here is a rare opportunity to view the Spanish Civil War from the Nationalist winning side.
Directed by Karl Ritter. Music by Herbert Windt. Narrated by Paul Hartmann. Germany, 1939, B&W, 88 minutes. Switchable newly recorded English voice-over soundtrack or original German with optional English or Spanish subtitles.
Digitally remastered Deluxe Version mastered in HD from original 35mm print, (with Hi-Fi Audio).
About the director:
Directed by Karl Ritter who's contemporary WW2 propaganda feature filmmaking employed stunning actual battlefront footage and brought to Third Reich cinemas fast–paced, action–filled storylines championing ideological themes and military successes against all enemies of the Reich.
(See also Ritter book)
DVD Special Features:
- Three Historical Background Videos (22 min):
- Karl Ritter’s “Im Kampf gegen des Weltfeind” - Historical Background (3 min.)
- Göring’s Condor Legion Returns Home from Spain May 31 - June 6,1939 (6 min.)
- Spanish Civil War: Historical Background (13 min.)
- Original Promotional Materials:
- Posters, Production Stills, Misc. Ephemera
- Interactive Scene Selections
- Switchable English Voice-Over Soundtrack or Original German with English or Spanish Subtitles
NTSC Region 0 encoding (Entire World)
Libraries and Institutions Please Note: Educational Editions with PUBLIC PERFORMANCE RIGHTS and DIGITAL SITE LICENSES are available.
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