Die Mörder sind unter uns, a German film known in English as Murderers Among Us in the United States or The Murderers Are Among Us in the United Kingdom) was one of the first post-World War II German films and the first Trümmerfilm. It was produced in 1945 and 1946 in the Althoff-Atelier in Babelsberg and in Jofa-Ateliers in Johannisthal. It was written and directed by Wolfgang Staudte.
Berlin in 1945 after Germany’s defeat in the war. The former military surgeon Dr. Hans Mertens (Ernst Wilhelm Borchert) returns home from the battlefield to find his home destroyed. He suffers from the terrible memories of the war and becomes an alcoholic. A photographer and Nazi concentration camp survivor, Susanne Wallner (Hildegard Knef), finds him living in her apartment as she returns home and they become roommates and even friends. Eventually, Mertens meets his formercaptain Ferdinand Brückner (Arno Paulsen), who had been responsible for the shooting of a hundred civilians on Christmas Eve of 1942 in a Polish village on theEastern Front. He is now a successful businessman, producing pots out of old Stahlhelme, the German military steel helmet. On Christmas Eve, Mertens plans to kill him, but Wallner stops him at the last minute. They decide to have Brückner put on trial then, and the two start a new life together.
The film was shot in the ruins of Berlin. Originally the film was supposed to be named Der Mann den ich töten werde (The Man I will kill) and Mertens was supposed to succeed in killing Brückner, but the script and the title were changed because the Soviets were afraid that viewers could interpret that as a call for vigilante justice.
Murderers Among Us debuted on October 15, 1946 in the Admiralspalast, which was at the time the home of the Berlin State Opera, in the Soviet sector. The television debut in the German Democratic Republic was on November 1, 1955 and in the Federal Republic on November 18, 1971.
The picture sold 6,468,921 tickets.
Most of the reviews were positive, although some criticized the fact that the characters appeared in modern and trendy clothes, which did not reflect the reality of the living conditions of Berliners in the immediate post-war period. In this film, Staudte was not only dealing with Germany’s past, but also with his own, as he had been involved in the filming of the Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß.
- Cinema in Democratizing Germany: Reconstructing National Identity After Hitler, Heide Fehrenbach, 1995, University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 0-8078-4512-4
- List of the 50 highest-grossing DEFA films.
- The Murderer are among us in progress-film.de, the distributor of the complete DEFA film heritage
- Die Mörder sind unter uns, 1946 in filmref.com. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Murderers Are Among Us, The (Moerder sind unter uns, Die) in German-films.de. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of January 19, 2007 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.