The Journey to Tilsit

The Journey to Tilsit (German: Die Reise nach Tilsit) is a 1939 German drama film directed by Veit Harlan and starring Kristina Söderbaum, Philip Dorn and Anna Dammann.[3]

The Journey to Tilsit
Directed byVeit Harlan
Produced byHelmut Eweler
Franz Tappers
Written byHermann Sudermann (novella)
Wolfgang Schleif
Veit Harlan
StarringKristina Söderbaum
Philip Dorn
Anna Dammann
Albert Florath
Music byHans-Otto Borgmann
CinematographyBruno Mondi
Edited byMarianne Behr
Distributed byTobis Film
Release date
2 November 1939
Running time
90 minutes
CountryNazi Germany
Budget1.012 million ℛℳ[1]
Box office2.537 million ℛℳ[2]


Elske faithfully loves her husband Endrik as he is seduced by a foreign schemer, Madlyn. Madlyn persuades him to murder Elske and run off with her. He lures Elske into the boat as a prelude to drowning her, but is unable to carry it out. When they reach the shore, she flees to the city, and he follows to plead for forgiveness. They return, and a storm blows up while they are in the boat. Endrik gets ashore, but believes Elske to have drowned. He reacts with anger to Madlyn, but learns that Elske did survive.



Elske, as is typical for Kristina Söderbaum's roles, is a model of patient, virtuous and old-fashioned wifehood and of pure and healthy Aryan stock, stemming from her country living, whereas her rival is Polish, promiscuous, and city-dwelling, an obvious product of "asphalt culture".[4] Her victory reflected a need to avoid temptation to adultery, when many families were separated.[5]


The film is a sound remake of the silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, which was based on Hermann Sudermann's short story "The Excursion to Tilsit", from the collection with the same title. Harlan maintained it was a true film, whereas Sunrise was only a poem, and it did avoid the symbols and soft focus of that film for more realism. It was shot at the Johannisthal Studios in Berlin and on location in Memel, where the action takes place.[6] It included almost all the changes that Sunrise made to the original story, including the change to the ending.[7]


Magda Goebbels ostentatiously left the premiere, owing to the accidental resemblance between it and her own situation, where Joseph Goebbels carried on with the Czech actress Lída Baarová.[6] (It was similarly resolved, with the actress being sent back to Czechoslovakia, and Hitler himself informing Goebbels that there would be no divorce.)[6]


  1. Noack 2016, p. 144.
  2. Noack 2016, p. 146.
  3. "New York Times: The Trip to Tilsit (1939)". NY Times. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  4. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p 84–86 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  5. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p 20 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  6. Cinzia Romani, Tainted Goddesses: Female Film Stars of the Third Reich p86 ISBN 0-9627613-1-1
  7. Derek Hawthorne, The Journey to Tilsit: A Song of Two Movies


  • Noack, Frank (2016) [2000]. Veit Harlan: "des Teufels Regisser" [Veit Harlan: The Life and Work of a Nazi Filmmaker]. Lexinton: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 9780813167008.

Further reading

  • Hake, Sabine. German National Cinema. Routledge, 2013.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.