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 Post subject: Legion Condor - the abandoned 1939 feature film
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 12:24 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:40 am
Posts: 8
Location: Sydney, Australia
"Legion Condor" the abandoned feature film by Karl Ritter.

After the success of his full-length documentary film on the Legion Condor in the Spanish Civil War, IM KAMPF GEGEN DEN WELTFEIND, which opened in June 1939, Ritter proceeded with his plans, formulated whilst he and his son Heinz were in Spain filming their documentary between February and April 1939. That was to write a film script for a feature film, using the same principle actors he has used in his December 1938 smash-hit POUR LE MÉRITE (i.e. Paul Hartmann, Albert Hehn, Josef Dahmen, Fritz Kampers, etc, ect.) MERITE had shown the establishment of the new German Luftwaffe in 1935 after the defeat in WWI, the Versailles Treaty, and the Weimar inflationary era. LEGION CONDOR was to be a direct sequel to POUR LE MÉRITE presenting the new Luftwaffe in its first combat, and first probation as a fighting force, ending with victory in the new Franco Spain.

The film script was lost and no copy was known to exist until I found it in a used bookstore in Berlin last July. Heretofore the actual plot of the film was only known in the broadest of terms from a Ufa studio press release in mid-1939. The production of the film took place at the Ufa studios and at Werneuchen air base outside of Berlin between 8 and 25 August 1939. Then the Nazi-Soviet Pact made the film impossible to be completed, as it was a hard-hitting anti-Bolshevik propaganda film.

Through Ritter's last surviving grandson, I have kindly been granted access to Karl Ritter's private unpublished diaries once again (as I had been for two previous book on Ritter - the biography as well as THE MAKING OF THE CREW OF THE DORA). The diary entries cover his dispatch to Spain in late January 1939 on direct orders of Hitler, the filming of IM KAMPF GEGEN DEN WELTFEIND, working alongside Generals von Richthofen, Wilberg, and others.... and then returning to Germany to write the script, and then to start the production of LEGION CONDOR, through to the abandonment of the film on direct order of Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels.

My new book will be about 180-200 pages long, with 38 B&W and 4 colour plates, 126 footnotes, and be published by April by German Films Dot Net. http://www.germanfilms.net

It should be of interest to those members who follow war films, the Legion Condor, and the Spanish Civil War. I have translated the entire film script into English, which has 167 scenes and if completed, would have run about two hours in cinemas. Also reproduced are 12 press photos for the scenes actually shot before the film was dropped; which I found in an Austrian film archive and which have never been published before. Most of the remaining B&W photos are from Ritter's own diary, including with LC generals at the front, aircraft he flew as a pilot during filming of WELTFEIND, and even a bombing run he made with four 250 kg bombs flying in a Heinkel 59, on course for Menorca on 17 February 1939.

William Gillespie

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