Der alte und der junge König
Der alte und der junge König (The Old and the Young King) is a German historical film by Hans Steinhoff
Hans Steinhoff
Hans Steinhoff was a German film director, best known for the films he made in the Nazi era. His most notable film was Ohm Krüger, for which he won the Mussolini Cup at the 1941 Venice Film Festival.-Filmography:*Hitlerjunge Quex...

, made under Nazi rule in 1935.

The film ostensibly deals with the intense conflict between Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

 and his son and heir, Crown Prince Friedrich - the future King Friedrich II
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 "The Great". This is a well-known incident of 18th Century German history, which had drawn much public attention in the time itself, and been artistically treated before.

However, in its specific presentation of this historical theme, the film was clearly seen to be a work of Nazi propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

 aimed at extolling the Führerprinzip
The Führerprinzip , German for "leader principle", prescribes the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich...

, i.e. blind obedience to the Leader (the King in the film's plot, Hitler in the reality for which the film was a parable); complaints of "encirclement" and the need for Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

 also feature.

For that reason, the film was banned by the Allied military government following the Nazi defeat in 1945. However, after the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 the FSK
Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft
The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft is a German motion picture rating system organisation run by the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft based in Wiesbaden.- Assignment :The main tasks of the FSK are approving and rating movies and trailers, videos and DVDs, and...

 ("Voluntary Self Regulation of the Movie Industry") subjected it a test on August 4, 1958, and ruled that, unlike other films made under the Nazis, the propaganda element in it was not so blatant as to justify its inclusion in the list of "Forbidden Films" (:de:Vorbehaltsfilm).


  • Emil Jannings
    Emil Jannings
    Emil Jannings was a German actor. He was not only the first actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, but also the first person to be presented an Oscar...

    : King Friedrich Wilhelm I
    Frederick William I of Prussia
    Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

  • Leopoldine Konstantin
    Leopoldine Konstantin
    Leopoldine Konstantin was an Austrian actress. She took acting lessons with Alexander Strakosch, whom she married shortly afterwards, and made her debut in the Deutsches Theater in Berlin in 1907...

    : Queen Sophie
    Sophia Dorothea of Hanover
    Sophia Dorothea of Hanover was a Queen consort in Prussia as wife of Frederick William I. She was the sister of George II of Great Britain and the mother of Frederick the Great.- Biography :...

  • Werner Hinz
    Werner Hinz
    Werner Hinz was a German film actor. He appeared in 70 films between 1935 and 1984.-Selected filmography:* Die Buntkarierten * No Greater Love * The Last Witness...

    : Crown Prince Friedrich
  • Carola Höhn
    Carola Höhn
    -Selected filmography:* Derrick - Season 4, Episode 2: "Hals in der Schlinge" * Derrick - Season 5, Episode 9: "Lissas Vater" * Derrick - Season 6, Episode 10: "Das dritte Opfer" * Derrick - Season 7, Episode 11: "Pricker" -Honours:...

    : Crown Princess
  • Marieluise Claudius
    Marieluise Claudius
    Marie Luise Claudius was a German actress.Claudius was the daughter of the court actor and writer Erich Claudius and the actress Lisbeth Reschke. During her childhood, she appeared several times on the stage of the Meininger Theater...

    : Princess Wilhelmine
  • Claus Clausen
    Claus Clausen (actor)
    Claus Clausen was a German film actor. He appeared in over 21 films between 1930 and 1968.-Selected filmography:* Westfront 1918 * Skandal um Eva * The Great King...

    : Lieutenant Katte
  • Friedrich Kayßler
    Friedrich Kayßler
    Friedrich Kayßler was a German theatre and film actor. He appeared in 56 films between 1913 and 1945.-Biography:...

    : Katte's Father
  • Georg Alexander: The Margrave of Bayreuth
  • Walter Janssen
    Walter Janssen
    Walter Janssen was a German film actor. He appeared in over 160 films between 1917 and 1970.-Selected filmography:* Destiny * The Flute Concert of Sans-Souci * Two Hearts in Waltz Time...

    : von Natzmer
  • Theodor Loos
    Theodor Loos
    Theodor August Konrad Loos was a German actor.The son of a watchmaker and instruments manufacturer, he left secondary school prematurely and worked for three years at an export firm for music instruments in Leipzig, and after that for his uncle, an art dealer in Berlin...

    : von Rochow
  • Heinrich Marlow: Grumbkow
  • Fritz Odemar
    Fritz Odemar
    Fritz Odemar was a German film actor. He appeared in 152 films between 1927 and 1955. He was born in Hannover, Germany and died in Munich, Germany....

    : Hotham
  • Rudolf Klein-Rogge
    Rudolf Klein-Rogge
    Friedrich Rudolf Klein-Rogge was a German film actor. Klein-Rogge is known for playing sinister figures in films in the 1920s and 1930s as well as being a main-stay in director Fritz Lang's Weimar-era films.- Biography :...

    : Dessauer
  • Leopold von Ledebur: von Waldow
  • Friedrich Ulmer
    Friedrich Ulmer
    -Selected filmography:* The Csardas Princess * Hubertus Castle * The Making of a King * Joan of Arc * The Mountain Calls -External links:...

    : von Reichmann
  • Harry Hardt
    Harry Hardt
    Harry Hardt was an Austrian actor. The son of a military officer, he initially planned a military career for himself, studying at a military academy and serving during World War I...

    : von Seckendorff
  • Luise Morland: Frau von Kamecke
  • Emilia Unda: Frau von Ramen
  • Ruth Eweler: Frl. von Sonsfeld
  • Eugen Rex: Eversmann
  • Ellen Frank
    Ellen Frank
    Ellen Frank is an artist, writer, and educator, currently based in New York.-Life:She was born in Los Angeles. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; her Master of Arts and Ph.D in literature and visual arts from Stanford and Yale universities,...

    : Countess (Gräfin) Arnim
  • Paul Henckels
    Paul Henckels
    Paul Henckels was a German film actor. He appeared in over 230 films between 1921 and 1965.-Selected filmography:* Sex in Chains * Skandal um Eva * Dreyfus * The Sorceror...

    : Pesne
  • Hans Leibelt: Knobelsdorf
  • Walter Steinbeck: Kaiserlingk
  • Hadrian Netto: First Usurer
  • Egon Brosig: Second Usurer


The film opens at Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

 in the time of "The Soldier's King" Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, with the Royal Family sitting at the breakfast table. It turns out that Crown Prince Friedrich, informally called "Fritz", had lost so much money at the gaming tables that he had to sign debentures. Members of the grenadier regiment had seen the crown prince appearing late in a wretched state, which greatly angers his father. The King would like to prepare his son for the future role as a ruler, and regards his preoccupation with music and literature with big displeasure.

Fritz, for his part, is infuriated with the austere treatment by his father and hatches a plan to flee Prussia and get to France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, where he expects a welcome from his mother's family. His companion Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte
Hans Hermann von Katte was a Lieutenant of the Prussian Army and close friend and possibly lover of the future Frederick II of Prussia, then the Crown Prince. He was executed by Frederick's father King Frederick William I of Prussia when he and Frederick plotted to escape from the Kingdom of...

 would like to help him in this plan. However, being a second lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 bound by his officer's code, he at first declines.

The father-son conflict further escalates when Fritz accumulates even heavier gambling debts than those which the King already had to pay off before. To King insults the
Crown prince, calling him "a liar and coward" and puts him under arrest. In the barracks he is forbidden to engage in his beloved flute playing, nor read French literature.

At night the King returns earlier than usual and surprises the Crown Prince together with his sister Wilhelmine, playing the flute in the music room. Katte, who was also present, manages to hide just in time. The angry King throws Fritz's books and flute into the open fire and orders the Crown Prince to accompany him on a trip to South Germany. Fritz, more than ever determined on his escape plan, can after this incident count also on Katte's support.

However, the escape fails, and both the Crown Prince and Second Lieutenant Katte are condemned by a court martial  to custody at the fortress of Küstrin
Before 1945 Küstrin was a town in the former Prussian province of Brandenburg in Germany, situated on both sides of the Oder river...

. Indeed, the King goes much further, arbitrarily changing the judgement against Katte into capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 and insisting on having him actually executed.

The Crown Prince submits to the King's authority and is moved to better quarters in a palace. Nevertheless, in a visit by the King it is evident that the relationship between father and son is still very chilly and they are estranged. Fritz who in the meantime has proved his "character" is now given his own household at Rheinsberg
Rheinsberg is a town and a municipality in the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district, in Brandenburg, Germany. It is situated on the river Rhin, approx. 20 km north-east of Neuruppin and 75 km north-west of Berlin.-History:...

Castle, where he can follow again his artistic inclinations.

Still, reconciliation between the estranged father and son does come about, shortly before the death of the King. The last words of the Old King to the Young are: "Make
Prussia great!". (The audience, aware of basic elements of German history included in their school curriculum, know that Friedrich would duly proceed to do just that.)
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