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Germany 1939, at a time when World War II hasn't yet gotten into full
swing, but the land is firmly in the grip of Nazi dictatorship: Hans
Memling (Roland Drew) belongs to a small group of resistance fighters, who
fight the Nazis mainly by distributing flyers attacking the regime's war
efforts and making a plea for peace - enough to be considered an enemy to
the regime. For a while, the efforts of Hans and his friends go
undetected, but eventually he is spotted meeting with a leader of the
resistance, Erlich (Henry Zynda) in a bar, and soon enough, the owner of
the bar (Vernon Dent) is apprehended and tortured to give away Hans' name.
Then Hans is arrested, right after he learns that his wife Elsa (Steffi
Duna) is pregnant.
At Nazi headquarters, Hans is tortured to give away the names of his
comrades, but his mouth remains shut. He even manages to speak a few
private words with Albert (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski), the resistance's
mole within the Nazis, and he asks him to tellhis wife Elsa about his
whereabouts. But then Albert's Nazi friends persuade him to go
drinking with them, and in a state of drunkenness, Albert gives away the
Soon enough, Hans and his friends find themselves shipped off to a
concentration camp ...
Elsa meanwhile doesn't give up on her husband and the father of her
child, and with the help of Erlich, she hires a lawyer (George Rosener) to
get Hans back home - which shouldn't be too hard a job since the lawyer
has good connections to the Nazis ... but no such luck for Hans: The head
of the concentration camp (Walter O.Stahl) fought side-by-side with Hans
in World War I and now considers Hans to be a dirty traitor to the German
state ... so he takes a personal interest in keeping Hans in the camp and
punish him at his leisure.
Thank God Erlich has taken a personal interest in getting Hans out of
the camp and him and his wife out of Germany, so one day, when Hans is on
working detail in the open, Erlich passes by in a hay cart where Hans
finds a perfect hiding place ... and soon enough he is reunited with his
wife Elsa and his newborn son in Switzerland ...
Pre-star Alan Ladd has a supporting role as a resistance fighter who
eventually gets shot when trying to leave the concentration camp going
over the wall.
A very early piece of anti Nazi propaganda made all the more
interesting because it is the first film of a small studio (the Producer
Pictures Corporation that would in a few months wind up to be the PRC)
which would in the future not become famous for its political films ...
The film, it cannot be argued, carries the right message, and in a time
too when most of the world did not yet know how to properly treat the
Nazis and a film with such a blunt anti-Nazi-message was considered a bold
But is it a good film ?
Quite obviously, Hitler - Beast of Berlin was made on the cheap,
as it features way too much dialogue and way too little action. Also the
film is not free of its cheesy spots, and the ending, where Hans escapes
the Nazis by means of a hay cart is simply disappointing.
On the other hand, the film isn't too bad either and certainly holds
some interest asan early piece of anti Nazi propaganda - and you simply
can't blame a film for being just that.