Carl Peters (film)

Carl Peters is a 1941 German historical drama film directed by Herbert Selpin and starring Hans Albers, Karl Dannemann, and Fritz Odemar. It was produced as an anti-British propaganda film during the Second World War.

Carl Peters
Carl Peters (film).jpg
Directed byHerbert Selpin
Produced byC.W. Tetting
Written by
Music byFranz Doelle
CinematographyFranz Koch
Edited byFriedel Buckow
Distributed byBavaria Film
Release date
  • 21 March 1941 (1941-03-21)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryNazi Germany

Albers portrays the titular German colonial leader.[1] Bayume Mohamed Husen plays his native guide.

The art director Fritz Maurischat worked on the film's sets. It was shot at the Bavaria Studios in Munich and the Barrandov Studios in Prague.


The film follows Carl Peters, one of the founders of German East Africa. When addressing a parliamentary commission of inquiry, he openly calls for a Hitlerian policy of territorial conquest, which according to him requires hard-headed men, such as himself.[2] He defends executions without trial as a way to prevent an uprising, which, he insists, the parliamentarians could not have prevented.[3] The parliamentarians, who are also Jews,[4] do not accept this, demonstrating what happens when the Führerprinzip is not adhered to.[5]

Context in Nazi propagandaEdit

This film reflected part of the anger at the terms of the imposed 1919 peace treaties: all German colonies had been lost at the end of World War I.[6] Its somewhat crude attack on Britain is typical of later films, such as Ohm Krüger, after Hitler came to the conclusion that no separate peace with Britain was possible, although the British colonial administrators are depicted as more intelligent than those of Germany, who suppress Peters.[7]


The story begins in London in 1892. Members of a club discuss Carl Peters, who just crossed the Channel with men of the Intelligence Service, wondering whether to stop Peters before he tries to achieve his African objective and is able to consolidate the position of the German Empire in East Africa.

Carl Peters returns to Germany to garner support, but his exploration projects are met with little response. He left on his own for Africa; arrived in Zanzibar, where he tries to convince the German consul to support his effort. He intends to establish a colony and make it a protectorate of the imperial government. Peters concludes commercial treaties with local tribal leaders, before the British or the Belgians manage to do so.

Carl Peters then survives a tropical disease and an attempted poisoning from the Intelligence Service. He finally receives a letter from Kaiser Wilhelm assuring protection for his colony.

Carl Peters returns to Africa and suffers through various trials, not only from the British, but also from the director of the Colonial Department of the Imperial Office for Foreign Affairs who happens to be Jewish. Carl Peters escapes danger, but his friend Juhlke is a victim. While Peters leads his expedition to an end, bad news reaches Berlin. Chancellor Bismarck must resign, but Peters is appointed Reichskommissar (colonial Commissioner). Back in Berlin, Peters must account to the Reichstag, to answer charges from the Socialists. Despite the support of a witness in his favour, who is none other than a black Anglican Bishop, and despite the heated rhetoric that Peters uses, he is forced to resign.



  1. ^ "New York Times: Carl Peters (1941)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2012.
  2. ^ Leiser, p. 103.
  3. ^ Leiser, pp. 104–105.
  4. ^ Leiser, p. 104.
  5. ^ Leiser, p. 105.
  6. ^ Koonz, p. 205.
  7. ^ Leiser, p. 99.


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