‘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!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • 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.