Professor Mamlock

Chapter 2. Soviet Antifascist Films of the 1930s: The Earliest Images of Nazi Anti-Semitisim and Concentration Camps on World Screens

Professor Mamlock, made in the Soviet Union in 1938, was one of the first films worldwide to directly tackle Nazi anti-Semitism. Based on a famous play by Friedrich Wolf, a German-Jewish exile to Moscow,and directed by Herbert Rappaport, an Austrian-Jewish exile, the film tells with brutal honesty the story of a Jewish doctor as he becomes a victim of the Nazis’ rise to power in 1930s Germany. In the clip shown here, the main character, Professor Mamlock, is arrested and debased by Stormtroopers. It is the most memorable and striking scene in the film.

  1. The scene you saw is a clear attack on Nazi anti-Semitism. Why did the Soviets allow this film in 1938?
  2. The film was based on a play by a German-Jewish writer. How is the resulting film different from the original play? Where can you see the Soviet influence?
  3. How is Professor Mamlock represented? How do we know that he is Jewish? How are Nazis represented in this film? 
  4. How was this film originally received in the Soviet Union and abroad? What was the effect of the film at that time? How is our perception of the film and its subject different today?