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Ernst Thälmann - Führer seiner Klasse (1955)

The second part of the Ernst Thaelmann films encompasses the time period between 1930 and Thaelmann's murder in 1944. It shows Thaelmann's battle to achieve a united front with all German ... See full summary »


Kurt Maetzig


Willi Bredel (screenplay), Michael Tschesno-Hell (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Günther Simon Günther Simon ... Ernst Thälmann
Hans-Peter Minetti Hans-Peter Minetti ... Fiete Jansen
Karla Runkehl Karla Runkehl ... Änne Jansen
Paul R. Henker Paul R. Henker ... Robert Dirhagen
Hans Wehrl Hans Wehrl ... Wilhelm Pieck
Karl Brenk Karl Brenk ... Walter Ulbricht
Gerd Wehr Gerd Wehr ... Wilhelm Florin
Walter Martin Walter Martin ... Hermann Matern
Theo Shall ... Marcel Cachin
Georges Stanescu Georges Stanescu ... Georgi Dimitroff
Nikolay Kryuchkov ... Sowjetischer Panzeroberst (as Nikolai Krjutschkow)
Carla Hoffmann Carla Hoffmann ... Rosa Thälmann
Angela Brunner Angela Brunner ... Irma Thälmann
Erich Franz Erich Franz ... Arthur Vierbreiter
Erika Dunkelmann Erika Dunkelmann ... Martha Vierbreiter


The second part of the Ernst Thaelmann films encompasses the time period between 1930 and Thaelmann's murder in 1944. It shows Thaelmann's battle to achieve a united front with all German workers against the National Socialists, his arrest following Hitler's seizure of power and the eleven years of his incarceration, in which he unwaveringly clings to his beliefs until his death. An attempt to free him on the part of his comrades ends disastrously, and a corrupt offer of freedom from Goering himself receives Thaelmann's refusal. He must also witness how his brave fellow socialist Aenne Jansen in the women's prison across from his tragically loses her life during a bombing raid. The second primary character of the film is Aenne's husband Fiete Jansen, who already proved his loyalty to Thaelmann's side as a friend and fighter in the first part. As the commander of the Thaelmann Batallion, he fights in Spain on the side of the people and later in the ranks of the Red Army toward a speedy... Written by DEFA Film Library

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




East Germany


German | French | Russian

Release Date:

7 October 1955 (East Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Ernst Thaelmann See more »

Filming Locations:

Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Deutsche Film (DEFA) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Ernst Thälmann gives a book as a present to Änne Jansen, who later reads to her husband from it. This book is a German translation of a Russian novel by Nikolai Alexejewitsch Ostrowski. The German title is "Wie der Stahl gehärtet wurde". The English title of this novel is "How the Steel was Tempered". See more »


Featured in The Society of the Spectacle (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

Thälmann -- the ultimate example
6 August 2010 | by eabakkumSee all my reviews

My review copies "Sohn seiner Klasse", since both DVDs ought to be seen as a whole. The film can only be appreciated if one knows its background. It was made in this curious country the GDR, and Ernst Thälmann was the leader of the German communist party before the Second World War. In fact, Thälmann was seen by the GDR-elite as something of a founding father, perhaps in the same way as the Americans admire Washington or Lincoln. Just like the carving of the first American presidents in rock, so one finds megalomaniac statues of Thälmann in the former GDR. This was of course a bit much for the common people, but the film had a relative success (perhaps also because bus loads of school children and personnel clubs were driven for free to the cinemas - try that with YOUR boss!). Somehow the people in the GDR saw that the roots of communism lie in humanism. Even now most people in the former GDR think of their past as indeed living in a dictatorship, but not in a wrong state. Just look at for instance the realistic, touching and much loved film "Paul und Paula". In addition it should be kept in mind, that Thälmann was active in the same political organization as the much mourned Rosa Luxemburg. On the other hand he was also associated with Walter Ulbricht, who started his career in the GDR as a Stalinist. Thälmann had already been put in a Nazi jail by the time that the cruelties of Stalin reached their climax. The film "Ernst Thälmann" portrays (in 2 DVDs!) his life and death, in a realistic way, but with extreme willingness. Political films are commonly biased, in both east and west, and the communist system has always been to weak to endure criticism from within. The story is therefore a straigthforward historic epic poem, in which the actors do a good job. It is all realism, you get what you see, and there are no hidden meanings, false bottoms or other "bourgeois" deceptions. There is nothing wrong with that. Of course the film can not conceal the violent nature of the communist party, and her destabilizing effect on the Republic of Weimar. In fact it does not even try, since the bringing about of the revolution and the fall of capitalism is the ultimate goal of Leninism, and thus seen as a virtue. The viewer should also bear in mind that in the roaring twenties the Comintern had already become an instrument for the protection of Soviet interests. The revolutionary climate died around 1920. Whereas the proletarian resistance against the fascist Kapp Putsch (1920) was justified and successful, this was not longer the case for the ensuing Ruhr uprising by the communists in 1921. By that time the socialdemocrats and the trade unions had already abandoned the armed resistance against the German military. The Ruhr uprising (against the disarmament of the workers) was without chance, and ordered by the Comintern (with the Soviet president Lenin behind it as driving force) mainly to weaken the German neighbour. The script has no room for such criticism or even doubts. If Thälmann has ever made a mistake, it is certainly not visible in this movie. For some strange reason, the personal glorification of the leaders has always been typical in communist countries. They were probably supposed to represent the human goodness, and be the ultimate example for the common people. With Thälmann this turned out to be especially easy, after his eventual murder by the Hitler fascists. If one is able to feel empathy, and to accept the rather unusual ideological perspective, then the viewer is rewarded with a nice impression of the Republic of Weimar, and the rise and establishment of Nazism.

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