The Deutsche Kinemathek (the German Cinematheque) in Berin, tells us how the film ‘The Enemy is Listening’ and others from the European Film Gateway’s First World War project, EFG1914, are being screened at the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna, Italy.
A still from the film ‘Der Feind Hört Mit’
‘Der Feind Hört Mit‘ (Germany, 1918) is a propaganda film showing how a negligent comment made by one German radio operator could unintentionally cause the loss of many German lives. The slogan ‘Feind hört mit’ which translates as ‘the enemy is listening’ is the German careless talk equivalent of ‘Loose lips sink ships’. More than 110 films made in 1918, including ‘Der Feind Hört Mit’, have been digitised and made available by the Deutsche Kinemathek on the European Film Gateway.
‘Der Feind Hört Mit’ was produced by Bild-und Filmamt – Bufa (Photo and Film Office), a production company established on 30 January 1917 under the control of the Oberste Heeresleitung (Supreme Army Command), whose purpose was to use film as a medium for psychological warfare. In 1917 alone, more than 120 films were made by Bufa, with such titles as ‘Exercise, games and sports as therapy for those damaged by war’ (original title ‘Turnen, Spiel und Sport als Heilverfahren für Kriegsbeschädigte’) and ‘The woman as war worker: manufacturing stick grenades’ (original title ‘Die Frau als Kriegshelferin bei der Herstellung von wurfminen’).
The film opens with the preparations for an attack by the German army on British troops. The depiction of the necessary measures is rather lengthy, stressing the meticulous planning of the attack by the Germans and their sophisticated transmission system. German soldiers in the trenches are informed about the plans and the time of the attack by their officers, and are sworn to secrecy. But British monitoring stations are constantly wiretapping German frequencies: when infantryman Krause receives a call from a friend, one careless remark leads to the frustration of the German plans and many casualties.
EFG1914 focuses on films and non-film material from and related to the First World War. EFG1914 covers all the different genres and sub-genres relevant in that time: newsreels, documentaries, fiction films, propaganda films. Moreover, EFG1914 gives access to anti-war films that were mainly produced after 1918 and which reflect the tragedies of the 1910s. This material is of special importance since only around 20% of the complete silent film production survived.
Der Feind Hört Mit will be shown at the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival in Bologna, Italy, on 4 July 2013, together with these films from other EFG1914 partners:
‘Dal Trentino al Rombon‘ (Italy 1917)
‘Kri Kri imita i voli di Pegoud‘ (Italy 1914)
‘Határaszélirazzia’ (Hungary 1918)
‘Befana di guerra‘ (Italy 1915)
‘The Woman’s Portion‘ (GB 1918)
‘Zásobování Prahy za svetové války‘ (Czechoslovakia 1917)