|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk
Irving Reis (uncredited)
|Produced by||Edward A. Golden|
|Written by||Emmet Lavery
Gregor Ziemer (book)
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Release date(s)||January 6, 1943|
|Running time||82 mins|
Hitler's Children is a 1943 American black-and-white propaganda film made by RKO Radio Pictures. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk and Irving Reis from an adaptation by Emmet Lavery of Gregor Ziemer's book of the same name.
In 1933 Berlin, Professor Nichols (Smith) runs the American Colony School, which is next door to the Horst Wessel School, where Germans are indoctrinated in Nazism. During a brawl between the student bodies, American-born German Karl Bruner (Holt) objects when German-born American Anna Muller (Granville) smacks him on the rear with her baseball bat. Despite their awkward introduction, he is attracted to the feisty girl. She is an American citizen, but her parents sent her to be educated in their former homeland. Soon, Karl, Anna, and Professor Nichols are good friends, though they do not see eye to eye politically. After a while though, they lose touch with each other.
Some years later, as war looms in Europe, Karl, now a lieutenant in the Gestapo, removes some students of the "wrong" nationalities from the American School. Anna herself is taken away, even though she is a twenty-year-old assistant teacher; because she was born in Germany to German parents, she is regarded as a German citizen.
Nichols tries hard to find her, but the American consulate is powerless to do anything, and Anna's grandparents are too frightened to help. Finally, his friend Franz Erhart (Lloyd Corrigan) suggests that Nichols get permission from the Ministry of Education to inspect a certain labor camp where she is probably being held. When Nichols goes to see Dr. Graf (Hans Conreid), he chances to meet Gestapo Colonel Henkel (Otto Kruger) and his aide and protege, Karl. Henkel gladly approves his request, but in private, Karl tries unsuccessfully to persuade Nichols to change his mind by informing him that Anna has become a model German. Nichols does not believe him. When he finds Anna at the camp, he is proved right. However, she discourages him from trying to rescue her, as it would be too dangerous and stand little chance.
Meanwhile, Karl recommends her for an advanced "Geopolitik" course at a German university, but when interviewed by Henkel and Dr. Graf, she vehemently turns down the opportunity, suspecting that it is intended to turn her into a spy against America. As a result, she is sent back to the camp and is demoted from the staff to a mere laborer. Henkel, after receiving many reports of her anti-Nazi behavior, decides she should be sterilized, as are all women who do not fit the Nazi mold. When Karl learns of this, he tries to get Anna to pretend to be a good Nazi, or even to bear his child to prove her usefulness to Germany, but she refuses.
She runs away from the camp, eventually reaching the city, where she hides in a Roman Catholic church. However, a search party traces her there and takes her away, despite the protests of the anti-Nazi bishop (H. B. Warner). Henkel orders her to receive ten lashes as punishment, sending Karl to witness it. After the second lash, Karl cannot bear it any longer and stops it, though he knows he has doomed himself as well as Anna.
He pretends to have realized his mistake and recanted. Henkel arranges for a nation-wide radio broadcast of the trial and promises Karl full honors at his funeral. Meanwhile, Professor Nichols is ordered to leave Germany immediately or he will be arrested as an accessory to treason. At the airport, Nichols hears Karl use his opening statement to denounce Hitler's Germany before the young man is shot and killed. Anna is murdered as well as she rushes to Karl's side.