The Count and the Comrade
Graf Hardenberg
Fritz Perleberg

The Count and the Comrade (Der Junker und der Kommunist)
Documentary by Ilona Ziok — 72 min., D 2009

Written and directed by Ilona Ziok

Director of photography: Wojciech Szepel

Sound: Peter Domsch

Edited by Markus Schickel & Ilona Ziok

Music by Manuel Göttsching

Produced by Manuel Göttsching & Ilona Ziok for CV Films

In the shadow of Germany's turbulent history there exists the story of two powerful men who shared an unlikely friendship.
»The Count and the Comrade« illuminates the unique lives of Count Carl-Hans von Hardenberg, one of the rebellious officers behind »Operation Valkyrie«, the plot that should have killed Hitler, and Fritz Perlitz, the ardent communist who would become one of the heroes of the new East Germany.
The final chapter in their story is written by the changing tides of Germany's post-war history.


United in their resistance to Hitler, two seemingly incompatible men illuminate a turbulent era of German history: Count Carl-Hans von Hardenberg, one of the rebellious officers behind »Operation Valkyrie«, and the fervent communist Fritz Perlitz.
With the release of »Valkyrie«, a worldwide audience is learning more about the failed July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. But the German army officers around Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg were not the only group of Germans to offer up resistance.

»The Count and the Comrade« portrays two men from two opposed groups: The Prussian monarchist Count Carl-Hans von Hardenberg and the anti-fascist Fritz Perlitz. Two men separated by class and wealth but united in their stance against the evil of Nazism, the aristocratic landowner and the proletarian worker are both fighting for a better Germany, albeit with contrary visions of its future. When both find themselves imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, they encounter each other as human beings. Perlitz and his comrades not only help Hardenberg to recover from a suicide attempt, they also teach him how to survive dangerous interrogations and the gruelling conditions in the camp. For a moment in time, two incompatible worlds come together, two minds from diametrically opposed ends of the social spectrum meet, resulting in an extraordinary dialogue and an unlikely friendship.

Liberated in 1945, Perlitz and Hardenberg re-emerge on opposite sides of the new political divide. Whereas Perlitz is appointed a First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), with the mandate to build a socialist system in his district of the GDR—which happens to include the Hardenberg estate—, and is involved in the (spectalular) renaming of Neuhardenberg into Marxwalde, Hardenberg is expropriated and forced to emigrate to West Germany. While Hardenberg is in the West, dreaming of his home, it seems as though Perlitz is the winner in this ideological altercation. In 1989, the tables turn once again. Although both protagonists are now dead, Perlitz, who was once showered with honours and titles, is posthumously robbed of all his distinctions by the collapse of the GDR and the ideals which it stood for. Meanwhile, the efforts of Hardenberg, the Prussian resistance fighter—who upon the Nazis’ rise to power had refused to become a member of the party and resigned from all his official positions—, are increasingly appreciated. More than 30 years after his death, his last wish is fulfilled: His mortal remains are transferred to Marxwalde, which, in the meantime, has been renamed to become Neuhardenberg once again.
The film’s release marks the 60th anniversary of Germany’s division and the 20th year since the fall of the Berlin wall. It does not seek to provide a comparative assessment of two different concepts of the state and social order, but focuses on two men within the changing tides of politics, ownership and power, whose life stories themselves shed light on the history of Germany from before World War II up until the present. But history knows only one victor—at least, until the next revolution.


Ilona Ziok:
Manuel Göttsching:

Scroll Up
Drag to Scroll Up/Down
Scroll Down