The Great King

The Great King
Directed by Veit Harlan
Written by Veit Harlan
Gerhard Menzel
Hans Rehberg
Starring Otto Gebühr
Cinematography Bruno Mondi
Edited by Friedrich Karl von Puttkamer
Release dates
  • 3 March 1942 (1942-03-03)
Running time
118 minutes
Country Nazi Germany
Language German

The Great King (German: Der große König) is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebühr.[1] It depicts the life of Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction.[2] It was part of a popular cycle of "Prussian films".

The film is a depiction of the Führerprinzip, with the analogy to Adolf Hitler being so clear that Hitler sent a print to Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Goebbels warned against the drawing of the comparison in print, in particular because of the pessimistic mood that opens the film.[3] After a sergeant gives an unauthorized order, the king orders him promoted and punished; his decision to desert after this results in his death, because no disobedience is justified.[2] Goebbels declared that the parallels were not a matter of propaganda but an obvious result of the parallels of history.[4]

Goebbels also regarded as it instructing that their current sufferings would strengthen them.[5]

Goebbels had some difficulty with the Army High Command over this film, because it depicted the king left in a lurch by his general, and complained that the army felt that any depiction, however historical, reflected badly on them.[2]




  1. "New York Times: The Great King". NY Times. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
  2. 1 2 3 Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p116 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  3. Erwin Leiser, Nazi Cinema p113-4 ISBN 0-02-570230-0
  4. Pierre Aycoberry The Nazi Question, p10 Pantheon Books New York 1981
  5. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p93 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
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