Cast & Crew
H. B. Warner
As Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, is called to inspect the devastation caused by an Allied air raid, the story of Goebbels' rise to power is recounted: In 1925, Goebbels, a struggling young playwright, is hired as a tutor and indoctrinates his young students with notions of Aryan superiority. One night, Goebbels makes sexual advances to Maria Brandt, the daughter of his landlord, Eberhardt Brandt, a former colonel in the German army. Goebbel's brutality earns him Maria's contempt and an eviction notice from her father. Soon after, Goebbels becomes mesmerized by a speech given by Adolf Hitler and joins the Nazi party. Five years later, Heinrich Wallburg, a German reporter, advises his fellow journalists to denounce publicly the Nazi party, but Wallburg's admonition is met with derision by the others, who underestimate Hitler's power. In Berlin, Maria, now an aspiring young actress, meets Goebbels again. Having become an important Nazi propagandist, Goebbels promotes her career. Once Hitler is named Chancellor of the Reich, Goebbels is appointed Minister of Propaganda in charge of German radio, press and motion pictures. As the new minister, Goebbels orders Wallburg's arrest and makes Maria a star. Soon after, Maria goes home to visit her father and there meets Dr. Hans Traeger, the new tenant. When Maria returns to Berlin, Goebbels orders the execution of Col. Brandt. After her father is shot and killed, Goebbels consoles the grieving Maria, who is unaware that Goebbels is responsible for her father's death. Preying on her vulnerability, Goebbels proposes that she become his mistress. When she rejects him again, Goebbels destroys Maria's career and she flees Germany for Austria. At a beer garden in Vienna, Maria meets Hans once more and they begin to date. When the spectre of Germany's aggression begins to loom over Austria, Maria and Hans decide to marry and move to Switzerland one day. Just before they are to leave, however, Germany attacks Austria and, although they marry, they are forced to remain in Austria. Four years later, Maria learns that her uncle Hugo is to be deported to a Polish concentration camp. Maria travels to Berlin to plead her uncle's case, but arrives too late, for the old man has just died of a heart attack. When Maria's return visa to Vienna is denied, Hans comes to Berlin to join his wife. The next morning, Maria goes to the passport office and is finally awarded her visa. Upon phoning Hans to tell him the good news, however, she learns that he has been arrested as a traitor by the Gestapo. When Maria turns to Goebbels for help, he vengefully offers her husband's release in return for becoming his mistress. Desperate, Maria agrees to his terms and Goebbels then instructs her to travel to Switzerland with Hans. Onboard their train will be two Nazi agents, who, once Hans has safely crossed the border, will escort Maria back to Berlin and into Goebbels' possession. Maria embarks upon the journey, and when their train stops outside the Swiss border, she cherishes the last minutes with her husband. Just before the train resumes its journey, a treasury agent requests that Hans accompany him to another compartment to sign some documents. After Hans leaves, Maria's guardians appear and escort her off the train and to Berlin, where she is confined in Goebbels' luxurious house. One night, as Goebbels delivers a speech over the radio, Allied planes attack Berlin and bomb Goebbels' house, killing Maria. Goebbels is summoned to inspect the devastation, but when he resumes his broadcast, he lies to the German people that no damage has been done and then reaffirms Germany's invulnerability.
H. B. Warner
W. R. Frank
W. R. Frank
Fred W. Kane
William H. Lynch
Herbert O. Phillips
Glenn [p.] Thompson
The working titles of this film were The Secret Life and Loves of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, His Life and Loves, The Life and Loves of Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, and The Private Life of Dr. Paul Goebbels. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, censors banned the use of all titles containing the words "the secret life and loves of Goebbels." The following written prologue opens the film: "The following story unfolds the private life of the greatest scoundrel of our time. It leads you into the suave but sinister machinations of the man whose words are still the supreme law for the political, moral and marital life of two hundred fifty million people in Europe. Behind the love story of Maria Brandt and Hans Traeger lies the tragic fate of a country that fell prey to the subtle and shrewd Nazi system which threatened to engulf all the freedom loving people of the world."
As Minister of Propaganda and Popular Entertainment from 1933-1945, Goebbels controlled all of Germany's media. According to a modern documentary, Goebbels dictated the roles assigned to actors, and although a married man with six children, was also a womanizer obsessed by actresses, assuring the advancement of the careers of those who pleased him. Those who rejected his advances, however, found themselves out of work. The film's depiction of Goebbel's promotion of Maria's career exploits this aspect of Goebbel's personality.
According to a January 6, 1944 pre-release news item in Hollywood Reporter, W. R. Frank, the Minneapolis-based theater operator who produced this picture, showed the finished print to circuit heads in New York to determine how much footage should be cut. The print was eventually trimmed from its 137 minute pre-release length to 87 minutes. A publicity release notes that Alfred Zeisler, the film's writer and director, had worked as a producer and director at the UFA studio in Berlin, and therefore had many dealings with Goebbels in his capacity as head of German Propaganda. According to Hollywood Reporter, Zeisler was to appear as himself in the picture.
Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart adds Douglas Fowley, Erskine Johnson, Reid Kilpatrick, Jerry Mickelsen, Walter Brooke, Stephen Roberts, Del Henderson, Ralina Zarova, George Meader and Howard Johnson to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film premiered at two Minneapolis theaters on April 20, 1944. Monogram did not acquire the film for distribution until June 1944, according to another Hollywood Reporter news item.