Falk Harnack

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Falk Harnack_table_infobox_0

Falk HarnackFalk Harnack_header_cell_0_0_0
BornFalk Harnack_header_cell_0_1_0 (1913-03-02)2 March 1913

Stuttgart, GermanyFalk Harnack_cell_0_1_1

DiedFalk Harnack_header_cell_0_2_0 3 September 1991(1991-09-03) (aged 78)

Berlin, GermanyFalk Harnack_cell_0_2_1

OccupationFalk Harnack_header_cell_0_3_0 Film directorFalk Harnack_cell_0_3_1
Years activeFalk Harnack_header_cell_0_4_0 1940–1976Falk Harnack_cell_0_4_1

Falk Harnack (2 March 1913 – 3 September 1991) was a German director and screenwriter. Falk Harnack_sentence_0

During Germany's Nazi era, he was also active with the German Resistance and toward the end of World War II, the partisans in Greece. Falk Harnack_sentence_1

Harnack was from a family of scholars, artists and scientists, several of whom were active in the anti-Nazi Resistance and paid with their lives. Falk Harnack_sentence_2

Early years Falk Harnack_section_0

Falk Erich Walter Harnack was the younger son of painter Clara Harnack, née Reichau, and literary historian Otto Harnack; a nephew of theologian Adolf von Harnack and Erich Harnack, professor of pharmacology and chemistry; the grandson of theologian Theodosius Harnack and the younger brother of jurist and German Resistance fighter Arvid Harnack. Falk Harnack_sentence_3

He was also a cousin of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Ernst von Harnack, who, like his brother and sister-in-law, Mildred Harnack, also became victims of the Third Reich. Falk Harnack_sentence_4

He never got to know his father, who committed suicide in 1914. Falk Harnack_sentence_5

Through his older brother, Harnack early learned about humanism, through which he came into contact with people who later became members of the Red Orchestra. Falk Harnack_sentence_6

These acquaintances made a big impression on him, so that he recoiled from Nazi propaganda. Falk Harnack_sentence_7

After going to school in Weimar, he continued his education near Jena, where he received his abitur in 1932. Falk Harnack_sentence_8

In 1933, he began attending university, first in Berlin and after 1934, in Munich, where in May, he took part in disseminating fliers against the National Socialist German Students' League. Falk Harnack_sentence_9

He received his doctorate with a dissertation on Karl Bleibtreu in 1936 and the following year, began working at the Nationaltheater Weimar and the state theater in Altenburg. Falk Harnack_sentence_10

He worked there as a director until 1940, when he was drafted into the Wehrmacht. Falk Harnack_sentence_11

War years Falk Harnack_section_1

In 1942, Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell and other members of the Munich Resistance group the White Rose got in touch with Harnack through Lilo Ramdohr, a mutual friend who had gone to school with Harnack. Falk Harnack_sentence_12

Through him, they hoped to build a relationship with the Berlin Resistance members involved with Harnack's brother, Arvid, Harro Schulze-Boysen, Hans von Dohnanyi and others. Falk Harnack_sentence_13

Harnack put them in touch with his cousins, Klaus and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Falk Harnack_sentence_14

That same year, the Gestapo intercepted communications revealing the existence of the Red Orchestra and leading to numerous arrests. Falk Harnack_sentence_15

Many of those arrested were later executed, including Harnack's brother on 22 December 1942, and on 16 February 1943 his sister-in-law, Mildred Harnack, an American citizen. Falk Harnack_sentence_16

During this period, Ramdohr was engaged to Falk Harnack, which Arvid mentioned in his farewell letter to his family, written hours before his execution. Falk Harnack_sentence_17

Though Harnack's brother had just been executed, he went to Munich to meet with Sophie and Hans Scholl on 3 February 1943. Falk Harnack_sentence_18

He and Hans Scholl agreed to meet again on 25 February but Harnack waited in vain; Scholl had already been arrested and executed, along with his sister. Falk Harnack_sentence_19

Thirteen other members of the White Rose were taken into custody, including Kurt Huber, Willi Graf and Harnack. Falk Harnack_sentence_20

Of the lot, Harnack was the only one acquitted; the others were found guilty and condemned to death, some executed the same day they were tried at the Volksgerichtshof, the civilian "People's Court". Falk Harnack_sentence_21

On 19 April 1943, Harnack was acquitted because of a lack of evidence and "unique special circumstances". Falk Harnack_sentence_22

In August 1943 he was removed from service to the Wehrmacht and transferred to a penal battalion, the 999th Light Afrika Division and sent to Greece. Falk Harnack_sentence_23

In December 1943, he was to be arrested and sent to a Nazi concentration camp, but his superior, Lieutenant Gerhard Fauth, tipped him off and helped him escape. Falk Harnack_sentence_24

He then joined the Greek partisans fighting the Nazis, working with the Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) and co-founded the Anti-Fascist Committee for a Free Germany with Gerhard Reinhardt, becoming leader of the organization. Falk Harnack_sentence_25

Postwar years Falk Harnack_section_2

After the war, Harnack returned to his career as a director and dramaturge, first working at the Bavarian state theater in Munich. Falk Harnack_sentence_26

In 1947, he began working at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. Falk Harnack_sentence_27

From 1949 to 1952, he was the artistic director at DEFA, where he made the film The Axe of Wandsbek, adapted from a book by Arnold Zweig. Falk Harnack_sentence_28

According to Zweig's son, the movie is based on a true story and may also relate to the events of Altona Bloody Sunday in Hamburg. Falk Harnack_sentence_29

The main character carries out a Nazi execution, though he ruins his business, marriage and life over it. Falk Harnack_sentence_30

Opening to positive reactions from the public, the film met with disapproval from the Socialist Unity Party and its Soviet advisors, who felt the movie's political position was not clear enough. Falk Harnack_sentence_31

One such adviser said, "[the film had] an undesired and deleterious effect on people in the GDR, as it does not depict hatred of fascism, but rather pity for the murderers.” The government banned the movie within weeks. Falk Harnack_sentence_32

Poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht remarked after the banning, “It is important to emphasize that there can be no sympathy for a Nazi executioner." Falk Harnack_sentence_33

After all that Harnack had lost to the Nazis, this dispute hit him hard and in 1952, he left East Germany for West Berlin. Falk Harnack_sentence_34

For the first few years, Harnack worked for the film production company CCC Film and, along with Helmut Käutner and Wolfgang Staudte, was one of the most important directors of German postwar films. Falk Harnack_sentence_35

From the end of the 1950s, however, he worked almost exclusively in television. Falk Harnack_sentence_36

He also wrote the screenplays for many of his films. Falk Harnack_sentence_37

From 1962 to 1965, he was the leading director of the newly founded German television station, ZDF. Falk Harnack_sentence_38

Subsequently, he worked primarily as a free lance. Falk Harnack_sentence_39

In addition to entertainment, he also made challenging films, which sometimes dealt with Germany's Nazi era and the Resistance, such as his 1955 release The Plot to Assassinate Hitler (Der 20. Falk Harnack_sentence_40

Juli) about the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, which won the 1956 German Film Award in the category "Films Contributing to the Encouragement of Democratic Thought". Falk Harnack_sentence_41

In 1962, he directed for television, Jeder stirbt für sich allein, an adaptation of Hans Fallada's novel, Every Man Dies Alone, based on the story of Otto and Elise Hampel, a working class couple who became involved in the anti-Nazi Resistance, failed in their efforts and were executed. Falk Harnack_sentence_42

Recognition and personal Falk Harnack_section_3

About Harnack's work, German author Gerhard Schoenberner remarked, “At a time when West German postwar film had sunk to its artistic and political low, his work set new standards for the dictates of commerce and the false glorification of the past that had become fashionable during the Adenauer period as a result of the Cold War.” Falk Harnack_sentence_43

Harnack was married to German actress Käthe Braun, who was often in his films. Falk Harnack_sentence_44

He died on 3 September 1991 after a long illness. Falk Harnack_sentence_45

Awards (selected) Falk Harnack_section_4

Falk Harnack_unordered_list_0

Filmography Falk Harnack_section_5

Falk Harnack_unordered_list_1

Audio plays Falk Harnack_section_6

Falk Harnack_unordered_list_2


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falk Harnack.