Max W. Kimmich

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Max Wilhelm ("Axel") Kimmich (born November 4, 1893 in Ulm , † January 16, 1980 in Icking ) was a German film director and screenwriter .

life and work

Origin and start of career

He was the son of the painter, drawing teacher and author Prof. Karl Kimmich senior (* March 23, 1850, † May 2, 1915) and his wife Christine, née Autenrieth, and had an older brother ( Karl Kimmich ). After graduating from high school, Kimmich attended cadet schools in Karlsruhe and Berlin and served as a career officer during the First World War . After 1918, he first studied medicine for a few semesters before joining film in the early 1920s. Initially he worked as a dramaturge and assistant for the Deutsche Lichtspielgesellschaft in various fields. He then worked as a production manager and producer for Rochus-Gliese-Film AG (from 1923 European Lichtbild AG "Eulag"). In his own production company, he wrote the two-act film Under Hot Sun in 1924 . Between 1924 and 1929 Kimmich also worked as a screenwriter and director. During this time (1924 to 1929) he was under contract with the Universal Pictures Corporation in Hollywood, but could not gain a permanent foothold there. (Film titles from this period have not survived in German print dictionaries, but can be viewed in the IMDb ). Back in Europe, he first shot the Czech-German co-production with Viktor Brumlik Do you know the little house on Lake Michigan? , for which he also wrote the script. In 1930 he composed the music for the adventure film Waves of Passion , his first sound film. He later wrote scripts with changing partners for espionage films such as False Flag (1931/1932), The Invisible Front (1932) or On Secret Service (1933).

time of the nationalsocialism

After the takeover of the Nazis career Kimmichs experienced a steep upturn: He wrote the screenplays for several adventure films ( The Fugitive from Chicago , 1933/1934), partly with nationalistic tenor ( hangman, women and men , 1935) and worked for directors such as Harry Piel and Paul Wegener . After a few short films and assistants, he was entrusted to direct the first feature film at Tobis in 1938 with the crime film The Fourth Doesn't Come, the script for it was broadcast as a radio play on March 18, 1939 by the Reich broadcaster in Breslau . Since February 1938 he was also married to Maria, the youngest sister of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels .

During this time, Kimmich also became a specialist in anti-English propaganda films such as Mein Leben für Irland , shot in 1940/1941 , which the Ministry of Propaganda reports not only as "politically valuable" and "artistically valuable", but also as "youth value" was awarded. His fifth full-length film director, the 1942 Africa film Germanin - The Story of a Colonial Act , which shows the development of a Bayer drug against sleeping sickness, was highly praised by contemporary (National Socialist) critics - it was both “State-politically valuable” as well as “artistically valuable”. His films The Refugee from Chicago , I Sing Myself Into Your Heart , Executioners, Women and Soldiers , The Fourth Is Not Coming and The Fox of Glenarvon received further awards, all of which earned the title "artistically valuable". - The film little things planned by Tobis Wien-Film in 1944 could no longer be realized due to the end of the war. Due to the shooting of this film, Kimmich stayed in Vienna in the spring of 1945, where he was surprised by the invasion of the Allies.

post war period

After the end of the war, Kimmich moved with his family - in January 1945 he had a child from his marriage - initially to Mörlach in Upper Bavaria. There the family lived incognito on a farm for about a year. In June 1946, however, the family surrendered to the Americans and was subsequently questioned several times. In a first interrogation on 8/9 June 1946, Max Kimmich claimed that he had rarely seen his brother-in-law during his time in Berlin. In contrast to his self-portrayal in his diaries, Joseph Goebbels actually paid little attention to his relatives. That was also the reason for him to oppose his order to commit suicide and instead to flee the city before the fall of Berlin. It is unclear to what extent this declaration only served the purpose of achieving the lowest possible rating for denazification . After this interrogation, the Americans confirmed to all three adults that they had never been members of the NSDAP. How these were finally classified after the completion of the denazification is unknown. After the end of the occupation, Max Kimmich moved with the family to Icking. In the following years he wrote occasionally for radio and television, worked as a novelist and until the end of the 1950s he also worked for the German Film Ring (Defir) in Munich. His films Germanin - The Story of a Colonial Act , My Life for Ireland and The Fox of Glenarvon were banned by the Allied military censorship and remained unevaluated until around 1980 before they were approved by the FSK. In addition, from 1955 he and his wife contributed to the publication of papers from the estate of Joseph Goebbels by the Swiss right-wing radical François Genoud . He died in Icking on January 16, 1980 at the age of 86.

Filmography (selection)


  • Cinegraph: Lexicon for German-language film. Edited by Hans-Michael Bock. Edition text review. Loose-leaf edition. 1984ff.
  • Who is who? Vol. 13, 1958
  • Kay Less : The film's great personal dictionary . The actors, directors, cameramen, producers, composers, screenwriters, film architects, outfitters, costume designers, editors, sound engineers, make-up artists and special effects designers of the 20th century. Volume 4: H - L. Botho Höfer - Richard Lester. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-89602-340-3 .
  • Alfred Bauer: German Feature Film Almanac 1929 - 1950 / Alfred Bauer. - new edition ed. by: Filmladen Christoph Winterberg. - Filmladen Christoph Winterberg: Munich, 1976.
  • Ulrich J. Klaus: German sound films. Lexicon of the full-length German and German-language sound films after their German premieres 1929 - 1945… - Ulrich J. Klaus. - Berlin [u. a.], 1980.
  • Frank Raberg : Biographical Lexicon for Ulm and Neu-Ulm 1802-2009 . Süddeutsche Verlagsgesellschaft im Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Ostfildern 2010, ISBN 978-3-7995-8040-3 , p. 199 f .
  • Pierre Peán: L'Extremiste: Francois Genoud, de Hitler à Carlos. - Pierre Peàn - Fayard: Paris, 1996. ISBN 2-213-59615-8 .
  • Wolfgang Proske (Ed.): Perpetrators - helpers - free riders. Nazi victims from the Ulm / Neu-Ulm area (=  perpetrators - helpers - free riders . Volume 2 ). 1st edition. Klemm + Oelschläger, Münster / Ulm 2013, ISBN 978-3-86281-062-8 , p. 90 ff .

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