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Ich klage an
Directed byWolfgang Liebeneiner
Produced byHeinrich Jonen
CinematographyFriedl Behn-Grund
Edited byWalter von Bonhorst
Music byNorbert Schultze
Release date
  • 29 August 1941 (1941-08-29)
Running time
125 min
CountryNazi Germany

Ich klage an ([ˈʔɪçˈklaːɡəʔan]; English: I Accuse) is a 1941 Nazi German pro-euthanasia propaganda film directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner[1] and produced by Heinrich Jonen and Ewald von Demandowsky.

It was banned by Allied powers after the war.[2]

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Hanna, a beautiful and talented young pianist, is diagnosed with late stage multiple sclerosis. Unable to pursue her career as a concert pianist, losing all her motor functions, and in constant agonizing pain, she begs her doctors to end her suffering permanently.[3] Hanna's husband Thomas, a successful doctor himself, reluctantly gives her a fatal overdose of barbiturates and is charged with murder. During an extended trial scene, arguments are put forth for and against euthanasia, heavily implying that prolonging a terminally ill patient's life is sometimes contrary to nature, and that death is a patient's right as well as a doctor's moral duty.[4] The closing scene, Thomas lashes out at the judge and prosecutor, telling them they have no right to condemn him when they weren't the ones forced to helplessly watch a loved one suffer in pain. He accuses the lawmakers of cruelty for failing to prevent patients' suffering through necessary euthanasia.[5]


Propaganda elements

This film was commissioned by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels at the suggestion of Dr. Karl Brandt, to make the public more supportive of the Aktion T4 euthanasia program.[6] Key scenes from the film were personally inserted by Victor Brack, one of the prominent organisers of the program and later a convicted war criminal. The actual victims of T4 were in fact killed without their consent, or that of their families.[7] Indeed, one cinema goer is alleged to have compared the film to the program and naively asked how abuses could be prevented from creeping into it.[8]

The SS reported that the churches were uniformly negative about the movie, with Catholics expressing it more strongly but Protestants being equally negative.[9] Opinions in medical circles were positive, though there were doubts, especially though not exclusively in cases where patients thought to be incurable had recovered.[10] Legal professions were anxious that it be placed on a legal footing, and in the few polls that were commissioned, the general population were said to be supportive.[11]


  1. ^ "The New York Times: Ich Klage An (1941)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2016. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  2. ^ Romani, p. 108.
  3. ^ Leiser, p. 70.
  4. ^ Leiser, pp. 70–71.
  5. ^ Hertzstein, p. 308.
  6. ^ Ayçoberry, p. 11.
  7. ^ Leiser, p. 69.
  8. ^ Grunberger, p. 385.
  9. ^ Leiser, pp. 146–147.
  10. ^ Leiser, p. 147.
  11. ^ Leiser, p. 148.


External links

This page was last edited on 9 June 2024, at 06:04
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