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Water and Fire by Seelen, Joost

"Water and Fire" is a historic documentary film about the turbulent and famous history of Marinus van der Lubbe, the Dutch bricklayer and communist who was arrested in 1933 for setting the German Reichstag on fire during the rise of Hitler. Water and Fire tells the amazing life story of Marinus van der Lubbe, a story in which heroism, reality, fiction, truth and lies seem to intertwine. The Reichstag fire was a pivotal event in the establishment of Nazi Germany.

Social Interest
Water and Fire is a story about the psychology of a man who defied death in the face of moral necessity. Marinus van der Lubbe was an idealist, a man of high moral and strong conviction. While the world choose to look the other way, Marinus van de Lubbe hoped to prevent Nazism from rising by burning their headquarters - the German Reichstag. Allegedly, he was caught in the act together with three accomplices. Later, all were aquitted, except for Marinus van der Lubbe who was beheaded (The customary execution method at the time).

Historic Relevance
Water and Fire contains lots of exclusive and historic footage of the events surrounding the Reichstag fire and the Leipzig trial that followed. In July 1933, Marinus van der Lubbe,

  • Ernst Torgler, Georgi Dimitrov, Blagoi Popov, and Vassili Tanev, who were all proclaimed communists - were indicted on charges of setting the Reichstag on fire. The Leipzig Trial was widely publicized and was broadcast on the radio. It was expected the court would find the Communists guilty on all counts and approve the repression and terror exercised by the Nazis against all opposition forces in the country.

    Historians generally agree that van der Lubbe was involved in the Reichstag fire. The extent of the damage, however, has led to considerable debate over whether he acted alone. The Reichstag Fire Decree suspended most civil liberties in Germany and the German Communist Party was banned. Based on thorough research director Joost Seelen presents some alternate theories about the Reichtag Fire and dwells deep into the psychology of Marinus van der Lubbe by interviewing relatives, friends and others that were involved.

    The documentary premiered in 1998 at IDFA. Also, the film has been presented at the international film festivals Leipzig, Sao Paulo, Rotterdam, Valladolid and the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht. The film also has been shown in various cities in the Ukraine.

  • Director
    Seelen, Joost
    Copyright Holder
    Zuidenwind Filmprodukties
    89 min.
    Year of release

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