The Arty Semite

Friday Film: Lost Weimar Classic Resurfaces at MoMA

By A.J. Goldmann

  • Print
  • Share Share

As part of its epic retrospective of Weimar Cinema, “Daydreams and Nightmares,” New York’s Museum of Modern Art will screen Werner Hochbaum’s 1932 film “Razzia in St. Pauli” on January 29 and February 2, an early German sound film long thought lost.

Courtesy Marion Behr
Gina Falckenberg as Ballhaus-Else in ‘Razzia in St. Pauli’

An atmospheric slice-of-life look at the Hamburg underworld of pimps, prostitutes and criminals (many portrayed by extras who actually held such professions), the film was a box office smash. Once the Nazis came to power, however, they banned the film for its uncritical portrayal of small time prostitution and its socialist-smacking glorification of the working class.

Justin Rosenfeld, the film’s producer and owner of Orbis Film, was forced to take on a Nazi co-owner. The company continued to release films until 1938, when Rosenfeld was briefly arrested. He then fled with his family to the United States. Rosenfeld died in Rochester, NY of heart failure in 1947.

The film’s non-Jewish director Werner Hochbaum continued making films under the Third Reich as an alternative to military service. His contributions, however, were considered less than satisfactory from a propaganda standpoint and he was thrown out of the Reichsfilmkammer. His efforts to rebuild the film industry after the war were cut short when he died in 1946.

Rosenfeld’s daughter, Marion Behr, spent decades trying to track the film down. Dr. Hans Feld, former editor of the popular and influential German magazine Film Kurier (and Behr’s husband’s uncle) was convinced that the film was lost. “I was sure the film existed and everyone told me that I was truly unrealistic,” Behr wrote in an e-mail to the Forward.

A few years ago Behr’s husband discovered via the Internet that “Razzia” had screened at a Dutch film festival. Behr was subsequently able to establish herself as Rosenfeld’s sole heir. The print being shown at MoMA comes from the Deutsche Kinemathek. It is the first-ever U.S. screening. “Now the film will be shown in one of the finest museums in America,” Behr’s email continued, “and I feel in a strange way, this allows my dad to live on.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Werner Hochbaum, Weimar Cinema, Weimar, Third Reich, Reichsfilmkammer, Orbis Films, Razzia in St. Pauli, Nazis, Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, Julius Rosenfeld, Hans Feld, Germany, Film Kurier, Film, Deutsche Kinemathek, Daydreams and Nightmares

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.