*This 23 minutes of footage is all that remains of Kurt Gerron’s unfinished Nazi propaganda film.
7th Art is now making this original footage (without subtitles) available for educational use.
The SS, seeking to exploit the beautification efforts undertaken at Theresienstadt in preparation for the Red Cross visit of June 23, 1944, decided to produce a film about the camp for propaganda use in Germany. Entitled “Der Fuehrer Schenkt den Juden eine Stadt” [The Fuehrer gives the Jews a City], its purpose was to show the pleasant life of Jews in a town that was generously given to them by the Nazi regime, in contrast to the hardships faced by Germans under the Allied bombardment. After shooting finished, the director, Kurt Gerron was deported on the camp’s final transport to Auschwitz. He was murdered immediately upon arrival. Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the gas chambers to be closed forever the next day. Gerron’s film, supposed to have been titled either Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem dischen Siedlungsgebiet (Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement), or The Fuehrer gives the Jews a City, was supposedly never completed and exists today only in fragmentary form.
(May 11, 1897 – November 15, 1944) was a German Jewish actor and film director.
Born Kurt Gerson to Jewish parents in Berlin, Germany, Gerron initially studied medicine but became a stage actor in 1920. He appeared in such films as The Blue Angel opposite Marlene Dietrich, and on stage originated the role of Brown (the chief of police in London) in the premiere production of Die Dreigroschenoper in Berlin in 1928.
Gerron was offered a trip to Hollywood but refused and stayed behind in Europe. He later left Germany, traveling first to France and later to the Netherlands. There, he kept on working as an actor and director in several movies. After the German army occupied the Netherlands, he was interned in the transit camp at Westerbork before being sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. There he ran a cabaret called The Karussell to entertain the inmates.