Max W. Kimmich

Max Wilhelm Kimmich (also known as M. W. Kimmich; 4 November 1893 in Ulm – 16 January 1980 in Icking, Upper Bavaria) was a German film director and screenwriter during the first half of the 20th century. He was brother-in-law to Joseph Goebbels.

Early life (1893–1933)

He was born in Ulm in West Germany to the painter, art teacher and author Karl Kimmich and his wife Christine, née Autenrieth. He had an older brother, also named Karl Kimmich, thirteen years his senior. While his brother went into banking, Max Kimmich visited military academies in Karlsruhe and Berlin after passing his school leaving exams and later fought as a regular officer in World War I. After the war, he studied medicine for a few terms, but at the beginning of the 1920s he became attracted to theatre and film, especially American films. So he worked at the German Cinema Company, beginning as an assistant and dramatic adviser. After that he became associate producer and later, producer, with the Rochus Gliese film company. In 1924, he went to Hollywood, where he worked at Universal Studios as a screenwriter and, according to himself, as director. But as he could not really gain ground in the USA, in 1929, he went back to Germany. The following year, he composed the music to his first sound film Waves of Passion (Wellen der Leidenschaft). In the next few years, he edited screenplays for cloak-and-dagger films like Under False Flag (1931/1932), The Invisible Front (1932) or On Secret Service (1933) with various partners.

During the Nazi era (1933–1945)

Kimmich's career began to boom after the Nazis came to power in 1933. He wrote the screenplays for several adventure films - sometimes with a nationalistic touch like Hangmen, Women and Soldiers (Henker, Frauen und Soldaten) from 1935 - and worked for directors such as Harry Piel and Paul Wegener. In 1938, he made his first film as director, a crime movie that was also produced as radio drama in Breslau the following year. In February 1938, he married Maria Goebbels, the youngest sister of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.[1] The latter seems to have been skeptical at first because he suspected that Kimmich was not really interested in his sister, but only in the excellent connections this marriage would give him. (Since film was an important propaganda medium for the Nazis, this was quite possible). Kimmich was able to allay Goebbels´ doubts in a private conversation in summer 1937, and the marriage took place the following year. He specialized in anti-British propaganda films,[2][3] e.g. My Life for Ireland in 1940/1941, and Germanin from 1942, which portrays scientists developing a medicine against sleeping sickness. While Nazi film magazines praised the latter - shortly after release it was awarded not only "artificially valuable", but also "national-political valuable" by film checkers of the propaganda ministry - today it is considered to be rather weak. Several of Kimmich's other films gained official recommendations in these years. His works The Fugitive of Chicago in 1933/1934, I Sing Myself into Your Heart in 1934, Hangmen, Women and Soldiers in 1935, The Fox of Glenarvon in 1940 and Fourth Man Missing (Der Vierte kommt nicht) in 1938/1939 were recommended as "artistically valuable". He earned most recommendations, however, for My Life for Ireland. This 1940/1941 movie was recommended not only "artistically and national-political valuable", but additionally as "particularly suitable for adolescents" (jugendwert). His last film, Peanuts (Kleinigkeiten), which he started in 1944 with Tobis, was not finished at the end of the war. It has been said that while working on this movie, Kimmich was in Vienna and witnessed the invasion of the Allies, but Goebbels biographer Curt Riess states Kimmich was in Berlin and escaped from the nearly encircled town with his wife and mother-in-law on April 19, 1945.

Until his death (1945–1980)

After the German surrender, Kimmich moved to the small village of Mörlach about 15 miles from Munich with his family (he had become a father in early 1945). There they lived under a false name for nearly a year, but in June 1946 he revealed their real identities to the American occupying forces. After that, he, his wife and his mother-in-law were questioned by the Americans several times, claiming they did not have contact with Joseph Goebbels and had never taken any money from him. Kimmich claimed that Joseph Goebbels - contrary to his own diary entries - seldom took care of his relatives. This behaviour of his brother-in-law had been decisive in his denying Goebbels´ order to stay in Berlin and commit suicide. There is speculation, Kimmich may have been interned after that interview as there was a photo taken by an American journalist on June 25, 1946 - two weeks after the first interview - which shows only his daughter with her mother and grandmother. The description of the photo stated the little girl was 18 months old.

The Allies banned his films My Life for Ireland, The Fox of Glenarvon (another anti-British propaganda film) and Germanin. However, in the early 1950s, the ban was lifted by the German film industry which had gained independence once again. His movie Moscow-Shanghai was shown in West German cinemas in 1949, now called The Way to Shanghai. During the following years, he worked as an author, produced several scripts for radio and television broadcasts and - until the late 1950s - also worked for the Deutschen Filmring (Defir, a Munich film company). Since the mid of the 1950s, he and his wife also earned money during the publication of Joseph Goebbels´ diaries and other unpublished works by Francois Genoud (in his last will and testament, Goebbels had named his sister as his sole heir).[4][5] Max Kimmich died on 16 January 1980 at the age of 86 in Icking.


Silent film

Sound films



  1. ArenaPAL. Caption: Max Kimmich's marriage with Maria Goebbels, sister of Josef Goebbels, during the ceremony
  2. Connelly, Mark. The IRA on Film and Television
  3. Garden, Ian The Third Reich's Celluloid War: Propaganda in Nazi Feature Films, Documentaries and Television. Stroud, Gloucestershire [England] : The History Press, 2012.
  4. AJR Information, March 1961
  5. TAZ - die Tageszeitung, January 15, 2011

External links

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