THE MOVIEGOER

At the Esquire

In September, 1926, a wealthy industrialist named Rudolf Haas was arrested in Magdeburg, Germany, charged with murder. He was later released and his honor restored when another man, one Richard Schroeder, was found guilty of the crime. In 1947, a German film company took this incident and with the superb acting for which German motion pictures have always been noted, used it in an excellent film, "The Affair Blum," as a focus for the anti-semitism in the German character which Hitler later worked up into the frenzy of Nazism.

For Haas was a Jew, and the case against him rested more on the emotion of prejudice than the reason of evidence. The motion picture does not have to deviate in the least from the actual case in showing how Haas suffered for a crime he had not committed, just as Alfred Dreyfus had earlier in France.

The man cast in Schroeder's role commits the murder solely for money; there were many unemployed in the Germany of the Twenties. The murdered man happened to be an accountant for Blum (Haas), and the investigator suspects that Blum may have murdered his employee to prevent his disclosing tax evasions. As the investigator questions the actual murderer, he thinks his questions are disclosing Blum as the murderer, but the audience knows that it is actually his prejudice making all the illogical connections as he leads the murderer into building a case against Blum.

The inspector who finally was called in by a friend of Haas to break the case and clear the falsely accused man, advised the Deustches Film Company in producing the movie. His film counterpart solves the case "by just doing what was obvious"--that is, going to the evidence and drawing conclusions rather than allowing prejudice to build a false case. In actual life he became a Nazi after a period in a concentration camp and, since advising on the film, has been rearrested and disappeared.

The investigator in real life was disciplined, as was the judge who helped frame Haas, when the true murderer confessed. But Hitler sought him out upon coming to power and honored him for his part in the Haas case by making him a Gestapo official. After hiding under an assumed name, he was finally sentenced last October to twelve years imprisonment for his part in Gestapo killings.

The movie ends with Blum freed and returned to his wife. Actually, Dr. Haas and his wife took their lives in 1933, about the time the investigator was being elevated to his Gestapo post.