Schtonk (1991): German Satire of Hitler Hoax and Scandal, Foreign Language Oscar Nominee (Politics, Hitler)

This German slapstick satire of contemporary German society, directed by Helmut Dietl, is titled Schtonk, which is the word that Charlie Chaplin used when he pretended to speak German in The Great Dictator, his satire of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Schtonk! Schtonk dvd cover.jpg
Chaplin’s Tomainian dictator Adenoid Hynkel repeatedly uses “Schtonk!” as expression of disgust–the word has no meaning in German.

The story of the hoax is subtitled Der Film zum Buch vom Führer, “The film accompanying the Führer’s book.”

Co-writer and director Helmut Dietl researched the scandal for years. They reportedly have left out real events out because they were too outrageous.


The film is loosely based on the Hitler Diaries Scandal of the 1970s. Fritz Knobel (Uwe Ochesenknecht), a life-long forger of Nazi memorabilia, got his start as boy selling clothes that he claims Hitler wore.  His current scam is to sell “original” portraits by Hitler of his mistress Eva Braun to connoisseurs of Nazi art.

In the process, he runs into Hermann Willie (Gots George), the ambitious journalist who works for a tabloid magazine, HH Press. modeled on Der Stern.
In 1983, the German magazine Stern published the purported Hitler diaries with great fanfare. However, they were proven to be fake.

The two men concoct scam that will garner fame for the journalist and cash for the forger.

The humor may be too broad, but the laughs are riotous and keep coming steadily.

Critical Status:

In 1993, Harald Juhnke won the Ernst Lubitsch Award for his role as Pit Kummer.

Oscar Context

Schtonk! was nominated for the “Best Foreign Language Film” Oscar, but lost to the French film Indochine.

I saw the film, which broke box-office records in Germany, at the 1992 Toronto Film Fest.

Götz George – Hermann Willié (journalist, fictional equivalent of Gerd Heidemann)
Uwe Ochsenknecht – Fritz Knobel (forger Konrad Kujau)
Christiane Hörbiger – Freya von Hepp (Hermann Göring’s grandniece, Willié’s/Heidemann’s noble girl friend)
Dagmar Manzel – Biggi
Veronica Ferres – Martha
Ulrich Mühe – Dr. Wieland
Harald Juhnke – Pit Kummer
Hermann Lause – Kurt Glück
Martin Benrath – Uwe Esser
Rosemarie Fendel – Mrs. Lentz

Directed by Helmut Dietl
Screenplay: Dietl and Ulrich Limmer
Running time: 115 Minutes