‘China’s Oskar Schindler’ Takes German Oscar

Best Actor: Ulrich Tukur plays John Rabe in the German film of the same name.
COURTESY OF BETA FILM
Best Actor: Ulrich Tukur plays John Rabe in the German film of the same name.

By Nathan Burstein

Published April 29, 2009, issue of May 08, 2009.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A movie about “China’s Oskar Schindler” claimed the top prize at the recent German Film Awards.

“John Rabe,” a biopic about a German industrialist who helped save as many as a quarter-million Chinese during the Rape of Nanking, was named best picture and took home the best actor prize for Ulrich Tukur, who played the title character. The film tells the true story of Rabe, sometimes referred to as “the good Nazi,” who led efforts to establish an international security zone for civilians during the Japanese invasion of Nanking, now known as Nanjing, in late 1937 and ’38. The head of local operations at the energy and communications company Siemens AG, Rabe used his own property to shelter more than 600 civilians, protecting them under a swastika banner that marked the area as off-limits to Germany’s Japanese allies. A member of the Nazi Party, Rabe attempted to publicize the atrocities he witnessed after returning to Germany in 1938, but he was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, which demanded he abandon his efforts. He died in obscurity in 1950, but returned to public consciousness in Germany and China, following the publication of his diaries in 1998.

German press coverage of the film has drawn parallels between Rabe and Schindler, the German industrialist who saved Jews during the Holocaust, said Dirk Schuerhoff, a managing director at Beta Film, which produced the movie. Its success at the German Film Awards means the film stands a “big, big chance” of representing the country in the foreign language category at next year’s Oscars, Schuerhoff said, describing the movie as, “topicwise, a good film for the Academy.”

Despite performing poorly at the German box office, “John Rabe” has been picked up for distribution in half a dozen European countries, and producers hope to sign a deal with an American distributor following a screening at the Cannes International Film Festival this month.

Director Florian Gallenberger and principal cast members attended the film’s Chinese premiere April 28 in Beijing. The movie will open on more than 750 screens in China, Schuerhoff said.


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!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • 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.