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Ernst Thälmann - Leader of his Class

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Ernst Thälmann - Leader of his Class
Ernst Thälmann - Führer seiner Klasse
Movie Poster
Country GER.jpg East Germany
Directed by Kurt Maetzig
Release Date October 7, 1955
Language German
Studio DEFA
Distributor Progress Film
Main Cast
Character Actor
Ernst Thälmann Günther Simon
Fiete Jansen Hans-Peter Minetti
Änne Jansen Karla Runkehl
Robert Dirhagen Paul R. Henker
Wilhelm Pieck Hans Wehrl
Walter Ulbricht Karl Brenk
Wilhelm Florin Gerd Wehr

Ernst Thälmann - Leader of his Class is a 1955 East-German movie directed by Kurt Maetzig and the sequel of Ernst Thälmann - Son of his Class. The second part covers the period from 1930 until Thälmann's assassination in 1944. It shows Thälmann's struggle for the united front of the German workers against the National Socialists, his arrest after Hitler seizes power, and the eleven years of imprisonment in which he remains steadfast until his death. An attempt by the comrades to liberate him fails and Thälmann rejects a corrupting offer of freedom by Göring. And he has to witness how his brave fellow fighter Änne Jansen is killed in a bomb attack in the women's prison across the street. Änne's husband Fiete Jansen, who was already at Thälmann's side as a friend and fighter in the first part, becomes the second supporting figure of the film. As commander of the Thälmann Battalion, he fights for the people's cause in Spain and later in the ranks of the Red Army for a quick end to the fascist war.

The following weapons were used in the film Ernst Thälmann - Leader of his Class:


Luger P08

Luger P08 pistols are used by German police, SS guards, and some soldiers. Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Quadde (Werner Peters) is briefly seen with a P08 during an attempt to free Thälmann

Luger P08 - 9x19mm Parabellum
A Police officers pulls out his Luger pistol at a roadblock.
The same policeman brandishes his pistol giving the signal to withdraw.
After the plan to free Ernst was exposed, the communist in disguise shots at the prison window.
The German General (Frithjof Ruede) surrenders his Luger to the Russians.

FN Model 1922

Fiete Jansen (Hans-Peter Minetti) is seen leading a charge with an FN Model 1922 during the Spanish Civil War.

FN Model 1922 - .32 ACP
Fiete holds his FN pistol.

Submachine Guns


Most Soviet Soldiers are armed with PPSh-41 submachine guns, as well, Fiete Jansen.

PPSh-41 with 71-round drum magazine - 7.62x25mm Tokarev
Fiete Jansen carries a PPSh during the deployment of the Soviet battalion "Ernst Thälmann".
Closer view of the front barrel and sight.
He looks after the rolling out tanks.
A Soviet soldier on the right guards captured SS officers including arrogant Quadde.
Soviet soldiers preparing a BM-13 Katyusha rocket launcher have PPSh with 25-round magazines.
A partisan with his PPSh-41 over his back.


Some PPS-43s are also seen wielded by Red Army soldiers.

PPS-43 - 7.62x25mm Tokarev
The soldier sitting in the middle has PPS-43.
The same tank reached the German HQ, note the two soldiers with the SMGs.


Mauser Model 1889/36

The most-seen rifle is the Belgian Mauser 1889/36 which is first used by Berlin police forces in 1930.

Carabine d'Infanterie Modèle 1889/16 - 7.65x53mm Mauser - 7.65x53mm Mauser, for comparision.
Fusil Mauser Modèle 1935 - 7.65x53mm, for comparision.
A farmer struggles with a policeman's Mauser. The striking magazine is seen.
A view of the front sights.
Left view of one Mauser held by a police officer.
A fighter of the Spanish International Brigade fires his Belgian rifle.
The young German soldier aims his Mauser at an SS officer.
Note the typical "ear" protectors.

Mauser Gewehr 1898M

Two SA (Sturmabtelung) men are seen with Gewehr 98M rifles while guarding arrested communists after the Reichstag Fire Decree of February 28, 1933. Contrary to what is portrayed in the film, it was only one communist, Dutch Marinus van der Lubbe, who set fire to the Reichstag building on February 27, and not a planned action by Hitler. However, this was a welcome opportunity for Nazi propaganda to crack down on leftists.

Mauser Gewehr 1898M - 7.92x57mm Mauser
One SA henchmen brandishes his Gewehr. Despite the long bolt handle, this rifle has a notch for a turned-down one.

Karabiner 98k

The Karabiner 98k is briefly seen in the hands of German soldiers.

Karabiner 98k - 7.92x57mm Mauser
Note the side-mounted sling slot and turned-down bolt handle.

Gewehr 1888/05

What appears to be a Gewehr 1888/05 is briefly seen held by a guard at a barracks.

Gewehr 1888/05 - 7.92x57mm (8x57 IS)
The soldier in center.

Karabiner 1888

A liberated KZ prisoner has a Karabiner 1888 over his shoulder.

Karabiner 1888 - 7.92x57mm (8x57mm I Patrone 88)
The man in the foreground left carries the Kar 88 over his back. Note the muzzle and hole in the magazine's bottom.

Custom Karabiner 1888

Another liberated KZ prisoner is briefly seen with a Kar 88 with a straight bolt handle that is also most likely used in the 1978 movie Severino.

The not so straight magazine matches a Steyr-type rifle but the rest part to a Kar 88 with straight bolt-handle.
Another view of the same rifle on the far left.

Mosin Nagant

Some Red Army soldiers are also armed with Mosin Nagant Rifles.

The soldiers next to Fiete.
Another view of a Mosin-Nagant on the right.

Lebel Mle. 1886

Some Spanish Republican fighters can be seen with French rifles that appear to be Lebel 1886s.

Fusil Lebel Modèle 1886 - 8x50mmR Lebel
One fighter chambers a round on his rifle.
Another Republican charges with his rifle equipped with a Rosalie bayonet.

Assault Rifles

Sturmgewehr 44

The Sturmgewehr 44 is the second most used rifle by German soldiers and liberated prisoners.

Sturmgewehr 44 - 7.92x33mm Kurz
A German soldier with an M35 Stahlhelm in camouflage holds his STG.
A happy KZ prisoner celebrates with his Soviet liberators.

MKb 42(H)

At the end of the movie, two prison guards of the KZ Buchenwald are armed with MKb 42(H) assault rifles.

Maschinenkarabiner 42(H) (Reproduction) - 7.92x33mm Kurz
Guard: "Guess you know what comes next!"
Thälmann: "Yes! A better Germany!"

Machine Guns

MG 34

German soldiers use MG 34s.

MG 34 - 7.92x57mm Mauser
An MG 34 behind its dead user on the Eastern Front.
An SS officers opens fire at three incoming Soviet parliamentaries.


Two MG42s are transported by prisoners.

Maschinengewehr 42 - 7.92x57mm Mauser
The MG42s carried in the background.

Maxim MG 08

One Maxim MG08 is seen among the smuggled weapons for the prisoners.

Maxim MG 08 - 7.92x57mm Mauser
The spade grips of the Maxim are seen behind the PPShs.



Some Landsers are seen with Panzerfausts.

Panzerfaust 30 - 44mm with 140mm warhead


A single Panzerschreck, which appears to be a mock-up, is carried by one German soldier.

Raketenpanzerbüchse 54 "Panzerschreck" - 88mm


15 cm sFH 18

Various 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 can be seen at a weapons factory.

Schwere Feldhaubitze 18 - 150mm

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