on the set of Das Beil von Wandsbek © DEFA-Stiftung, Erich Kilian
Falk Harnack was born in 1913 and grew up in a family of important German intellectuals. From 1937 to 1940, he worked as a director, actor, and dramaturg at the German National Theater in Weimar. He was active in the resistance movement against National Socialism and was a member of the White Rose group. He narrowly escaped being sentenced for his involvement in the group. His brother, Arvid (1901-1942), and American-born sister-in-law, Mildred Fish-Harnack (1909-1943), both members of the Red Orchestra resistance group, were not so lucky. Their executions undoubtedly solidified Harnack's anti-Nazi stance. He was sent to Greece with the army, and in 1943 he deserted and joined the Greek antifascist partisans.
After the war, Harnack returned to his directorial and dramaturgical career at various German theaters and was appointed Artistic Director of the East German DEFA film studios in 1949. Das Beil von Wandsbek was his debut as a film director. Initially, critics praised the film for what was perceived as a realistic portrayal of the Third Reich. A month after its premiere, however, the film was banned for what was deemed a sympathetic depiction of a Nazi executioner. This, in conjunction with behind-the-scenes studio and cultural politics of the period, caused Harnack to leave DEFA in 1952. From then on, he only directed films in West Germany, continuing to focus on the Nazi past. Falk Harnack died on September 5, 1991.
|1964||Angeklangt: Dr. Thomas (Accused: Dr. Thomas)|
|1962||Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Every Man Dies Alone, TV)|
|1959||Arzt ohne Gewissen (Doctor without Scruples)|
|1958||Unruhige Nacht (Restless Night)|
|1957||Wie ein Sturmwind (Tempestuous Love)|
|1955||Nacht der Entscheidung (Night of Decision)|
|1955||Der 20. Juli (July 20 - The Plot to Assassinate Hitler)|
|1951||Das Beil von Wandsbek (The Axe of Wandsbek)|