John Rabe

THE BIOPIC JOHN RABE CELEBRATES A NAZI WHO SAVED 200,000 CHINESE LIVES
Historians record the death of 300,000 Chinese in the “Rape of Nanjing” of 1937 at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Similar to Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), the film John Rabe, directed and written by Florian Gallenberger from John Rabe’s diary, reveals heroism by the head of the Siemens power plant in Nanjing and the cruelty of the Japanese conquerors. With the approach of the Japanese army, Rabe (played by Ulrich Tukur) is about to be replaced by Werner Fleiss (played by Mathias Herrmann). But Fleiss has no plans to take care of the Chinese who have faithfully worked for the power plant, which is responsible for electricity as far away as Kiangsu. So Rabe ousts Fleiss, unfurls a Nazi flag under which Chinese are saved from bombing, is voted to head the expatriate community, and arranges to create a safe zone within Nanking that will be free from aggression. Outside the zone, the Japanese take no prisoners, preferring brutal aggression against the trapped residents and summary executions under orders from Prince Asaka Yasuhiko (played by Teruyuki Kagawa). Fleiss, however, plots revenge, which comes in the final scene, followed by titles reporting more on the historical context—that Rabe died uncelebrated in 1950 because he was a Nazi Party member. John Rabe has been nominated by the Political Film Society for best picture in all four categories—democracy, exposé, human rights, and peace. MH