Aug 30, 2013
In his revolutionary cineaste book Film as a Subversive Art (1974), American film critic Amos Vogel wrote regarding West German auteur Volker Schlöndorff’s subversive TV Movie The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach (1971) aka Der plötzliche Reichtum der armen Leute von Kombach, “An excellent example of a particularly interesting new genre of young German cinema; bizarre, deadly serious variations on the reactionary German "Heimat" films of yore – those insufferable, sentimental "kitsch" prosodies to Fatherland, Soil, and Family. This fully realized work effectively upsets this tradition by recounting a tale of oppressed 19th-century German peasants who become rebels against the state out of poverty, revealing (instead of romanticizing) the brutal degradation of German rural life at the time. Particularly audacious is the presence of an itinerant Jew peddler as mastermind (!) of the conspiracy, predictably leading to (unfounded) charges of anti-semitism against a young director who has dared to reintroduce the Jew into German dramaturgy.” Indeed, being a Viennese-born Jew himself who got the hell of Austria after the Nazi Anschluß in 1938, Vogel most certainly had a special sensitivity regarding all things Jewish and German and his remark about the nationalistic Heimat film speaks loud and clear regarding his feelings toward Teutonic unity, so it should be no surprise that the films of Volker Schlöndorff (Young Törless, The Tin Drum)—an ethno-masochistic kraut and flagrant Francophile who has spent a good portion of his filmmaking career promoting feminism and far-left politics, as well as cinematically denigrating his own nation and people—would catch his fancy. Following in the anti-Heimat trend popular among West German far-leftist filmmakers, which began with Hunting Scenes from Bavaria (1969) aka Jagdszenen aus Niederbayern directed by Peter Fleischmann and including works like Nachtschatten (1972) aka Nightshade directed by Niklaus Schilling and Heart of Glass (1976) aka Herz aus Glas directed by Werner Herzog, The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach essentially demystifies German history from a materialistic quasi-Marxist angle, depicting nineteenth-century Teutonic peasant life as innately miserable, hard work as evil (a false assumption undoubtedly inspired by Marx’s Jewish background as recognized by Oswald Spengler), and government and the state as being ruled by slave-driving proto-fascist sadists. Starring a number of important auteur filmmakers of German New Cinema, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Querelle), Margarethe von Trotta (Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt), Reinhard Hauff (Knife in the Head, Stammheim - Die Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe vor Gericht), The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach features an outmoded stoner-inspired Krautrock-like score, whiny men with horrendous hippie haircuts, and a cookie-cutter 68er-Bewegung message that was certainly made to appeal to even the most braindead of drug-addled degenerates belonging to the kraut counter-culture movement. The story of a junk-peddling Jew of the proto-Bolshevik variety who concocts a clever criminal conspiracy to rob a government carriage containing tax money in the forests of the Hessian hinterland and convinces a bunch of uneducated German peasant farmers, laborers, and soldiers to help him do the majority of the dirty work as any sensible chosenite would, The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach is a sort of allegorical Trotskyite fairytale loosely based on a true story that ends in tragedy where the Germans ultimately die by the sword due to their affinity for Teutonic land and incapacity for deracinating themselves, but the rootless cosmopolitan Judaic manages to get away scot-free and make his way to America.
It is Fall 1821 and while cutting the grass for some rich portly fellow and minding his own business, blond Aryan superman Jacob Geiz (Karl-Josef Cramer) is approached by a religious Jewish peddler named David Briel (Wolfgang Bächler) who calculatedly states, “Jacob, I know a way to help both of us if we can get some trusty people” and, like the devil himself, tells him of his criminal plot to rob a carriage carrying tax money through the Hessian forests. Jacob agrees and gets his farmer father Hans-Jacob (Georg Lehn), brother Heinrich (far-left filmmaker Reinhard Hauff), farmer friend Johannes Soldan (Harald Müller), as well as two laborers Ludwig Acker (Harry Owen) and Jost Wege and a soldier to join the outfit. While all men are poor and need the money, especially due to a rise in taxes, many of them have their own personal reasons for joining. For example, Heinrich Geiz had a baby out of wedlock with a gal named Sophie (Margarethe von Trotta), but cannot afford to pay for a wedding and the soldier is in a similar boat. The Geiz family is also more broke than usual due to a bad season for crops. As narrated by an off-screen Marxist-trained female narrator, the peasants "kept ignorant throughout the centuries, and they were unable to see the cause of their misery. Only emigration to the New World, poaching, or treasure hunting were seen as a way out of poverty,” and sophisticated Semite David Briel gives them hope by reading them a letter from a Jewish friend in America that absurdly reads, “America is the land of milk and honey. The cows are grazing on evergreen meadows. You find honey in hollow trees. You can have as many cattle as you want. You don’t have to get food from them, only in the winter. And the land is so good, you don’t need any fertilizer. You can grow anything every year after plowing it up, that’s enough. And it’s not like in Germany where they take away what little you’ve got in taxes and whatnot. Here the farmer is his own master. We eat more meat than you eat bread, and drink coffee and wine like you drink water. Milwaukee, 1821.” Of course, as time will tell, unlike the wandering Jew, the kraut proletarians have an innate incapacity from uprooting themselves from their land and immigrating to the lovely land of milk and honey.
The conspirators make their first attempt at robbing the tax carriage on Christmas night 1821, but the snow causes them to fail. The men fail/abort attempting to pull off the robbery a number of other times as well, including after coming to the realization that there is no money inside the carriage, after spotting too many soldiers guarding the carriage, and getting stuck in a thick mist that blinds their vision, etc. Eventually, everyone decides to abandon the master plan, but they decide to give it another retry and finally succeed, acting rather humanely in the process, making the mistake of sparing the lives of the soldiers and the man driving the carriage. Much more clever than his goy kraut criminal compatriots, David Briel warns the German peasants not to go around spending the money right away as it will look suspicious to the authorities being that poor men do not have money to purchase expensive things, poetically preaching, “How beautiful is the world. So they built a house, put in chairs and tables, and a kitchen with a fireplace where you can find coffee, milk and sugar and beautiful plates, and that's all of it for us! It's just like a fairytale. Just you beware. Think of the golden ass!”, but they naturally do not take heed of the Hebrew's wise words. Heinrich has a large wedding with a grand feast, which makes everyone in Kombach suspicious. A Gestapo-esque judge named Richter Danz (Wilhelm Grasshoff) is brought in to solve the mystery of the tax carriage robbery and immediately assumes it was committed by peasants and puts a look out for any poor person spending big bucks. Danz also offers an award of 300 guilders to anyone who provides evidence leading to an arrest and after Jacob Geiz makes the inevitably fatal mistake of giving a couple coins to a starving elderly man, the old man pays back him back by immediately going to the judge for the award money and tattles on the young altruistic farmer. Eventually Jacob and his brother and father are arrested, but admit nothing to Danz. A perennial coward in the face of fear, Ludwig Acker soon turns himself in and confesses everything, thereupon incriminating all his comrades in the process. Before they can be tried and convicted, two of the men commit the unpardonable sin of suicide, one by hanging and the other by firearm. In order to end their lives with the last rites, repentant and in a state of grace, the men also confess where the bank robbery money is hidden, except for Heinrich, who fights with his brother and father, who attempt to get him to repent. Heinrich also physically assaults the judge during the trial after being sentenced to death while cowardly friends and family watch in an exceedingly impotent fashion. When his wife Sophie tries to get him to repent, Heinrich proclaims like a true Marxist martyr that he refuses to because, “That’s how they break you.” In the end, the men are executed by being decapitated via sword, but before he “dies like a man” (as indicated by the narrator), Heinrich states, “Like my life will be torn, so must you be torn,” thereupon figuratively spitting in the faces of his executioners.
Out of all the characters featured in The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, only Jewish conman David Briel gets away, concluding regarding the whole ordeal, “The money made me free. The farmers couldn’t use the money because they only knew their land. When they touch the land, they know if it’s good for potatoes or corn. But when they touch money, they don’t know how to handle it. They can’t show it, because a poor man with money is suspect. And a farmer can’t go to another place, because his land won’t follow him and he fears what he doesn’t know. But I am free. I have no home or land to hold me. I got where I want to go. The New World is waiting for me. New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mississippi, New Orleans, Florida, Buffalo, Arizona, Ohio, Texas, Arkansas…” Undoubtedly, judging by the character of David Briel, it would not be a stretch to conclude that Volker Schlöndorff is a groveling philo-Semite who seems to believe that Jews make the ultimate political revolutionaries due to their innate rootlessness and lack of attachment to German soil and culture, which is at least one thing I can agree with him on. Of course, it is easy to see why some critics found Schlöndorff and his work The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach to be anti-Semitic as the film essentially makes the same argument as the Nazis regarding the subversive/criminal nature of Jews and their treachery towards host nations, the difference being that the director respects them for this as opposed to hating them. As Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who ironically has a cameo in The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, once infamously stated, “philosemities are anti-Semites who loves Jews,” which can certainly be said of Volker Schlöndorff and his ex-wife Margarethe von Trotta, whose works Rosa Luxemburg (1986), Rosenstrasse (2003), and Hannah Arendt (2012) are easily some of the most shabbos goy-esque cinematic works ever made.
As mentioned in The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, about 1/10 of the Hessian population left Germany in the nineteenth-century, a good percentage of which immigrated to the United States and shed their Teutonic identities forever. In fact, despite not being common knowledge, according to 2009 census studies, 50 million Americans (17.1% of the American population), myself included, are of German extraction, thus making them the largest ancestry group in the country, even ahead of the Scots-Irish. The fact that despite being the majority population, German Americans have fully assimilated into America and have all but totally disappeared in the white population just goes to show the deracinating power of the United States, thus one can argue that there is something distinctly Jewish about America, which is hinted at in The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach and is further supported by the fact that America has the largest Hebraic population in the world and is the largest supporter of Israel. Of course, America is essentially a cultureless and materialistic nation with a mostly peasant collective. With The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, director Volker Schlöndorff, who undoubtedly has a materialistic Marxist view of history, reduces nationhood and religion to nothing more than slavery, presenting it as a sort of figurative ball-and-chain, completely ignoring the beauty of blood and soil, but also culture and tradition. In fact, The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach depicts religious people as moronic and superstitious untermensch, on top of portraying peasants as savage wife-beaters and rapists. Of course, America has never produced a Martin Luther, Goethe, Nietzsche, Beethoven, Murnau, or even Herzog, as such a mongrelized ‘multicultural’ country lacks organic culture material to sire such greatness. As the Great Sicilian Baron Julius Evola once write, “America ... has created a 'civilization' that represents an exact contradiction of the ancient European tradition. It has introduced the religion of praxis and productivity; it has put the quest for profit, great industrial production, and mechanical, visible, and quantitative achievements over any other interest. It has generated a soulless greatness of a purely technological and collective nature, lacking any background of transcendence, inner light, and true spirituality. America has [built a society where] man becomes a mere instrument of production and material productivity within a conformist social conglomerate.” Taking the magical Baron’s quote into consideration, the greatest irony regarding Volker Schlöndorff and his filmmaking career is that, despite his worship of materialism and lifelong cinematic denigration of his German Fatherland, he could never have made a film like The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach outside of Europe. Maybe it's my partial peasant blood talking, but it is also very doubtful that a peasant would direct a film like The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach where their entire existence is reduced to miserable serfdom. After all, it is usually members of the bourgeois like Karl Marx himself, who never worked a single day in his life, that treats work as an unholy sin. A sort of insipidly idealistic ‘red Robin Hood and his less than Merry Marxist Men’ in the bleeding heart anti-Heimat vein, The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach is undoubtedly well crafted and even engrossing, if not for all the wrong reasons as a work that incriminates the Jew in its flagrant philo-Semitism, thus making it interesting to rightists as well as leftists. If one learns anything from The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kombach, it is that following the lead of a subversive Hebrew might lead to your destruction.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 9:36 PM
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