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kolberg : the last war film    Filming on Kolberg finished at the end of 1945 and it was quickly premiered in a cinema in Berlin and at a naval base in La Rochelle. Kolberg was the Nazi regime's most expensive film ever. It was made in an effort to boost the army and the people's morale. The directors were Veit Harlan and Wolfgang Liebeneiner and amongst the main actors were the then stars of German cinema: Kristina Soederbaum, Heinrich George, Paul Wegener, Horst Caspar, Gustav Diessl, Otto Wernicke and Kurt Meisel. The film tells the story of Joachim Nettelbeck, the mayor of Kolberg. The very mayor who overcame a siege by the French Army, beat them and became a hero. Aware of how the war was developing from 1943 onwards, it's easy to imagine what the German Government intended with the film. It was in 1943 when they started filming Kolberg with Agfacolor and with a budget of over 8 million marks. Though it was shot during wartime, thousands of troops were taken from the frontlines to enable the film to be made. To film the snow scenes, more than 100 train wagons of salt were transported to the film location and the last scenes were shot at the Babelsberg studios in Potsdam as the allies were bombing the city. As several war fronts were pushed back and Germany's borders were being gradually reduced, the film negatives had to be moved from town to town.
The war officially ended for the Germans on May the 8th. Hardly anybody got the chance to see Nazi cinema's most ambitious effort. Almost every copy disappeared and, what must have seemed like a twist of faith, Kolberg, the city the National Socialists had tried to turn into an icon, was handed over to Poland in The Potsdam Agreement. The Germans living there were driven out and the Polish Government filled it with people who had been forced to leave other Polish lands occupied by the Russians. Its name became Kobrezeg. Several decades later the film negatives were recovered and Kolberg was screened again in 1965, a weird look back at Nazi days and shown along with a documentary on Nazi cinema propaganda. It's kind of funny, in a strange way. The losers always make propaganda-filled films. The films by the victors, however, are... historical.