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Germany’s UFA lights up over ‘Fire’

TV movie concerns Reichstag destruction

BERLIN — Germany’s darkest period remains a treasure trove for local filmmakers and producers of TV event movies.

In “Der Reichstagsbrand” (The Reichstag Fire), Potsdam-based UFA Filmproduktion will explore the circumstances of the unexplained fire that destroyed Germany’s parliament building, the famed Reichstag, in the early days of Adolf Hitler’s reign.

The blaze, set in 1933, paved the way for Hitler’s consolidation of power over the country after the Nazi government blamed the fire on a communist conspiracy. In the wake of the attack, Hitler won a key parliamentary vote granting him special powers to rule by decree, making him, in effect, a parliamentary-approved dictator.

UFA’s Norbert Sauer is producing the planned two-parter, which is being penned by Rainer Berg. Sauer and Berg also teamed on UFA’s upcoming “Hafen der hoffnung — Die letzte fahrt der Wilhelm Gustloff,” pubcaster ZDF’s tragic tale of the German refugee ship sunk by a Soviet submarine in the waning days of World War II.

Although a young Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, was found guilty of setting the fire and beheaded in 1934, general opinion holds that the Nazis were behind the crime.

The planned two-parter, which has yet to land a German TV deal, is the latest in a string of hugely successful historical TV minis that have covered topics such as the World War II bombing of Dresden, the forced exodus of millions of Germans from lost territory in Eastern Europe and the Allied airlift that saved West Berlin following the war.

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