MAIL English Version


Willi Münzenberg


1889 - 1940

The film producer and publisher Willi Münzenberg was a prominent newspaper publisher. To his publications belonged "Welt am Abend", "Berlin am Morgen" and the "Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung AIZ".

He campaigned politically for the KPD and he was an opponent of the colonialism.

As a teenager he worked for a shoe factory, later he worked at different places, among others in Zurich for a drugstore. There he got in touch with the socialistic youth organisation of Switzerland and in 1912 he became a member of the corporate executive committee.
At the same time he made first experiences in the field of publication as an editor of the magazine "Die freie Jugend".

After the end of World War I Willi Münzenberg, who met Lenin in 1916 in Zurich, was expelled from Switzerland because he was a supporter of the October Revolution.

Willi Münzenberg returned to Germany where he co-founded the KPD in Berlin.
Finally he got the personal order of Lenin to organize the International Arbeiterhilfe IAH which led to the newspaper "Illustriertes Sowjetrussland im Bild", the predecessor publication of the already mentioned AIZ.
Other newspapers followed.

Finally he took over the position of the production chief of the film companies "Filmkartell Weltfilm GmbH" and "Prometheus Film".
To Willi Münzenberg's produced movies belong "Der Mann im Hintergrund" (22),"Orientfieber" (23), "Namenlose Helden" (25), "Überflüssige Menschen" (26), "Das Mädchen aus der Fremde" (27), "Jenseits der Strasse" (29) and "Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück" (29).
His last movies came at the beginning of the 30s into being with the productions "Kuhle Wampe oder Wem gehört die Welt?" (32) and "Metall" (33).

His career in Germany ended with the Reichstag Fire. He had to flee to France where he continued his fight against the National Socialists in Paris with several publications. In 1935 he was sentenced to the death in absentia by the National Socialists.

But on the communist side things developed in a direction which Münzenberg could no longer accept. He critised the course of action of the KPD which led to the exclusion from the KPD in 1938.

With the invasion of Germany Willi Münzenberg was arrested and he came via the camp Stade de Colombes to the camp Chambaran. When the camp was transferred he fled and tried to slap through by himself. Less than four months later he was found dead with cord around his neck. It was never found out what really happened - both murder or suicide are possible.