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 Post subject: Legion Condor (1939) – the lost Karl Ritter propaganda film
PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:01 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:40 am
Posts: 8
Location: Sydney, Australia

My new book on the lost 1939 Karl Ritter feature film LEGION CONDOR is now in print. I discovered the heretofore lost film script in a used Berlin bookstore in July 2018 and have researched it in the German Military Archives, the German Federal Film Archives, the Austrian Film Archives, and I have drawn on materials from my own collection. I have translated the entire film script into English and also had access to Karl Ritter's private unpublished diaries now held by his grandson in Argentina. These diary entries were written between January and September 1939, covering the weeks in wartime Spain as well as when writing the script and filming LEGION CONDOR until it was abandoned, before Karl Ritter was sent to Kolberg at the start of the Polish Campaign as a Major in the Luftwaffe.

Ritter was invited to attend a dinner at the Reichschancellory on 28 January 1939 and sat at Hitler's right side. Also attending the dinner were Albert Speer, Martin Bormann, Rudolf Hess, Hitler's photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, and Jacob Wehrlin (an old friend of the Führer's, an SA–Brigadeführer and Chairman of the Board of Daimler–Benz.) That night, Hitler personally commanded Ritter to make a film on the Legion Condor and Ritter and his son flew to Zarazoga that very night on a Junker 52 from Templehof. All of these details were found in Ritter's diaries.

Ritter and his son Heinz spent six weeks in Spain filming their full–length documentary film IM KAMPF GEGEN DEN WELTFEIND (The Battle against the Enemy of the World) between late January and April 1939. Upon their return to Germany, a feature film on the Germans in the Condor Legion was written and started production. The film was meant as a sequel to Ritter's infamous POUR LE MÉRITE (December 1938) with many of the same cast members (Paul Hartmann, Albert Hehn, Fritz Kampers, Jospeh Dahmen, Carsta Löck, Maruina vn Dittmar, etc.) The film had 60 roles and hundreds of soldiers as extras, tanks, and a variety of aircraft used in the SCW, with full support of the Luftwaffe Ministry. The film's military advisor was General der Flieger Hellmuth Wilberg. Filming at the famous Ufa film studios in Potsdam was halted after 15 days, on 25 August 1939 –– collateral damage to the von Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact. The film was never re-commenced, and no fragment exists. I discovered twelve heretofore unseen press photos of those scenes actually shot that summer in the Austrian Film Archives.

The book contains Ritter's diary entries for the battles and campaigns betwen late Janaury and March 1939 when Ritter was embedded with Kampfgruppe 88 and the A88 in Sabadell, and covers his experiences filming Barcelona, Mallorca, piloting a Heinkel 59 over Menorca, where he dropped four 250kg bombs, Tetuan, Sevilla, and when he saw the destroyed Guernica from the air, and then onwards to Bilbao, Oviedo, Santander, and Zarazoga. Of the 32 B&W phoos, seven are from the weeks in Spain, taken by or of Ritter and never published before.

The book is 244 pages long, with 42 B&W plates, including 4 colour plates. It is available here: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/143327947746

William Gillespie
German Films Dot Net

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