John Rabe

Synopsis: After 28 years building and managing a vast Siemens plant in Nanking, John Rabe is ordered by the new Nazi regime to close it down. Before he can pack, the Japanese army, lead unofficially by a bloodthirsty imperial uncle, lays siege to the city. Rabe accepts, as prominent representative of Japans' major European ally, to head the Western ex-pats society's plan to start and run an international zone, like worked in Shangai. Rabe however wants it to save his workers and their close ones, over 200,000, and sacrifices all his personal interests.
Production: Strand Releasing
  8 wins & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
134 min

Good morning.

Morning. Back to work.

November 27, 1937.

They say the Japanese

razed Shanghai to the ground.

I just don't want to believe that.

Typical Chinese propaganda.

All is quiet here in Nanking.

Except for a few

who are running scared.

I hope our leaving doesn't

make it seem like I'm backing out too.

But should I go around...

...telling everyone

I've been promoted to director?

And was called to Berlin?

Of course not.

Put me through to John Rabe.

But still.

my heart bleeds at the thought...

...of leaving this alI behind

after so many years.

Hello, Rabe household.

No, no, no. That won't work.

You've got to tilt the piano.

What are you doing? Tilt it.

- I'm telling you, it won't fit.

- Well, it went in.

- Yes, 20 years ago.

- I suppose the piano grew since then?

Put it down, put it down.

My God,

these idiots are good for nothing.

December1. 1937.

A large Japanese force lies in wait.

just 70 km off Nanking.

So says Chang, my Chinese driver.

He won't say who told him.

All the same,

we're off in two days.

Japanese or no Japanese.

Though it wouldn't be bad if Japan

gained more influence in China.

After all,

they are allies of the Reich.

- What about the hat?

- I loved that hat.

- We agreed, everything we haven't...

- Yes, fine. Get rid of it.

- Do you still need insulin?

- No, I've got enough.

When I'm dead.

I know, then I can read your diary.

But not before.

I think I'll outlive you

out of sheer curiosity.

That's my tactic.


Chang! How many times? Knock first.

- But boss...

- For God's sake!

We knock in this house.

Now get out.

How can someone be so dumb.

- There was a knock.

- I heard it, but he has to learn.

We leave in two days.

- It's the principle of the thing.

- Come in.

Just has arrived Herr Fliess.

What? Here already?

Couldn't he call first.

He call.

But you not have time when I tell.


what's the point in you having a head?

Well, so that...

So that it not rain into my neck.

Quite right.

Herr Fliess.

I'm John Rabe. Welcome to Nanking.

- Heil Hitler.

- Heil Hitler.

Hope you had a good journey.

This is Herr Han.

He is my deputy, soon to be yours.

Heil Hitler.

Welcome to Nanking.

Heil Hitler.

You wouldn't believe

how long they took to learn that.

Not long enough it seems.

He's saluting with his left hand.

Not the left.

Right hand. Right hand!

That's it.

The Chinese are like children.

You have to teach them,

but they do what they're told.

You have to be able to spot

a good Chinaman right away.

You have to see it at first glance.

That, for example,

is a good Chinaman.

Those are our W-923 systems.

We provide

for the whole province of Jiangsu.

Over 15 million people.

The population is growing so rapidly...

...that we'll hit our capacity soon

without the dam.

How does it feel

to be returning home after so long?

Siemens sends me to China,

so I go to China.

Siemens wants me in Berlin,

so I'm off to Berlin.

It sounds as if you'd rather stay.

That's the control unit

for the system.

You could call it

the heart of the plant.


what you've built up here, Rabe.

But so much work,

just for the Chinese?

For Siemens.

In a few years we'll make millions.

You haven't been told?

Rabe, Germany is taking a new course.

And so is Siemens.

What's that supposed to mean?

There isn't going to be a dam.

Siemens Nanking is to be phased out.

What the hell!

We've wiped out the Chinese here.

Our armored divisions...

...are proceeding to the west.

We are now preparing

to advance on Nanking.

Who is leading the advance?

Major Ose, Your Imperial Highness.

A great undertaking

for such a young man?

Yes, sir.

But young men

are capable of great deeds too.

Your report, Major.

This is our position.

My troops

are joining the 33rd Infantry.


Lieutenant Yanagawa's Sixth Division.

We will surround Nanking

from three sides and close ranks.

This way

we will avoid significant losses...

...and force the city to surrender.


Have you ever

taken part in an elephant hunt?

No, Your Highness.

You don't encircle an elephant,

wear it out or force it to surrender.

Either you kill it,

or it will kill you.

Is that clear.


My God! What are you doing in here?

- What are you doing in here?

- Back to bed, it's a surprise.

Have I forgotten

my own birthday or what?

I know how hard it is for you

to leave everything here.

You don't know that.

Okay, perhaps I don't.

But I do know

nobody could have done a better job.


And that's why I made you this cake.

- Gugelhupf.

- Gugelhupf.

Shujuan, a little to the left.

Welcome to the Nanking NS group.

I'm Krger, group president.

I'll introduce you to the others.

This way, please.

- And that's mine, gentlemen.

- I'll get you next time, I swear.

This is the NS group?

We're not all here yet, but...


And what is that?


No, leave it. I'll do it.

We share the room with the...

With the English Veterans Club.

How dare you...

- Hello everybody!

- That's Hans.

Ah, you must be the new one?

Hans Scheel, baker by trade.

Please excuse my tardiness.

But I brought you something.

Cinnamon rolls. They're still warm!

That's unbelievable.

Did you really join the Pa... eat pastries

under a photo of the King of England?

No! We have talks too.

The conditions you tolerate here

are scandalous.

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Florian Gallenberger

Florian Gallenberger (born 23 February 1972 in Munich) is a German film director and writer. His film Quiero ser (I want to be...) was awarded the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 2001. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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