ⓘ The Great King


ⓘ The Great King

The Great King is a 1942 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Otto Gebuhr. It depicts the life of Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786. It received the rare "Film of the Nation" distinction. It was part of a popular cycle of "Prussian films".

The film is a depiction of the Fuhrerprinzip, 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. After a sergeant gives an unauthorised order, the king orders him simultaneously promoted and punished. His decision to desert after this results in his death, because no disobedience is justified. Goebbels declared that the parallels were not a matter of propaganda, but an obvious result of the parallels of history.

Goebbels also regarded it as instructive that current sufferings would be a source of strength.

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


1. Cast

  • Kurt Meisel as Alfons
  • Kristina Soderbaum as Luise Treskow
  • Hilde Korber as Elisabeth Christine
  • Heinrich Schroth as General Balthasar Rudolf von Schenckendorf
  • Herbert Hubner as Count Finkenstein
  • Otto Gebuhr as Frederick II.
  • Reginald Pasch as General Manteufel
  • Claus Clausen as Prince Henry the Older
  • Otto F. Henning as General von Finken
  • Paul Henckels as Grenadier Spiller
  • Gustav Frohlich as Treskow
  • Otto Graf as General Seydlitz
  • Klaus Detlef Sierck as Prince Henry the Younger
  • Paul Wegener as General Czernitscheff
  • Elisabeth Flickenschildt as Spillers Wife
  • Hans Nielsen as Niehoff
  • Franz Schafheitlin as Commandant Bernburg