Karriere © DEFA-Stiftung
Günter Walcher, 40-years-old, is a hardworking, apolitical West German businessman caught in a moral conflict. He is offered a promotion to become the head of a division—on the condition that he find a reason to fire Zacharias, a communist and the work council chairman.
Although Walcher does not share Zacharias’ political views, he thinks highly of him as a person.
Walcher thinks back on another time when he was led to do something he knew was wrong. When he was a boy, he’d been a member of the Hitler Youth and become involved in a Russian boy's death.
This memory does not make him question the request now being made of him, however. He is again open to corruption.
After officials banned The Russians Are Coming in 1968, Heiner Carow decided to use some of its footage as flashbacks in this film. Set in contemporary West Germany at the end of the 1960s, Career is an interesting story in its own right. A few years after its release, however, the director vehemently distanced himself from its conformity to the party line.
The film features songs by West German cabaret artist, satirist and singer-songwriter Dietrich Kittner (1935-2013). In the 1970s, Kittner was one among many other West German songwriters who believed in communist ideas and socialism. Kittner went on many concert tours in East Germany from the early 1970s until the final days of the GDR in 1989. In 1987, he also participated in the Festival des Politischen Liedes (Festival of the Political Song) in Berlin.
"Career is a remarkable film; equal to, and in some respects superior to The Russians Are Coming. It deserves more attention.
Career is laced with newsreel footage of people demonstrating against the German Emergency Acts (Notstandsgesetz), giving the strong impression that the laws were passed thanks to the ex-Nazis that were allowed to return to political offices in West Germany. West Germans cried foul, saying the film did not paint a true representation of things in the West; but a 2016 study found that 77% of senior ministry officials in 1957 were former members of the Nazi party. […]
Because Career was made for a German audience, it assumes a knowledge of the events in Germany at that time, and some familiarity with people such as Franz Josef Strauss and Georg Ziegler. [Premiering] in 1971, the film came at the tailend of the German student movement protests that swept West Germany in the late sixties—the so-called 68er-Bewegung that led the way to the development of the Red Army Faction. Much of the newsreel footage is shown without explanation. This assumption that the viewers know about the student protests movements of 1968, or the rise of the NPD party keeps the plot moving forward, but might leave young viewers and audiences from other countries slightly confused about some of the comments and actions in the film.” —Jim Morton, East German Cinema Blog