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Film / Schtonk!

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Schtonk! is a 1992 film from Germany directed by Helmut Dietl.

It is a satirical, partially fictionalized take on the infamous Real Life Hitler Diaries scandal. The film opens with Fritz Knobel as a boy in post-war Berlin, passing off random trinkets (like an officer's hat) as Adolf Hitler's personal possessions, and selling them to gullible American soldiers. Fast-forward some thirty-odd years and Fritz (played by Uwe Ochsenknecht) bills himself as a professor and art historian, but he's actually a forger. He paints a nude of a lovely village lass named Martha (Veronica Ferres) and passes it off as a portrait of Eva Braun by Hitler. Fritz thinks he's screwed when the Nazi Nobleman he sells the painting to calls in an art expert, but when the art expert proclaims it genuine, Fritz learns a lesson on how experts can be fooled. In the meantime, Fritz is carrying on an affair with curvaceous Martha, much to the fury of his wife Biggi (Dagmar Manzel).

Enter journalist Hermann Willié (Götz George), a crackpot, Nazi aficionado, and all-around creep, the sort of guy who would raise Hermann Goering's yacht from the bottom of a harbor and restore it. (If that isn't creepy enough, Willié is also dating Hermann Goering's niece.) When Fritz goes to a meeting of rich Nazi weirdos and offers up a fake Adolf Hitler diary for sale, Willié is hooked. Soon Fritz finds himself frantically cranking out volume after volume of crudely faked diaries, while trying to manage his complicated love life. Willié for his part shows the diaries to his magazine, which seizes on them a find of enormous historical importance.


  • Based on a True Story: Time frames are compressed, details are simplified or omitted, and all the names are changed, but in many respects it's a surprisingly faithful if tongue-in-cheek history of the Hitler Diaries hoax.
    • Gerd Heidemann, the Real Life basis for Heinrich Willié, really did buy Hermann Goering's yacht and have it restored, although it had never been sunk and thus didn't need to be salvaged. And he didn't date Goering's niece, he dated Goering's daughter, Edda.
    • Konrad Kujau was a slightly scummier version of Fritz Knobel; Kujau was also into counterfeiting and spent some time in prison, and he was obsessed with guns. However Kujau did have a wife and a mistress, and apparently they did come to an understanding, as they all fled to Austria together.
    • The film implies a Happy Ending for Fritz in which he escapes to Austria with his money and both of his women, after they prevail on him to get out while he still can. While this happened in Real Life, soon afterwards Konrad Kujau returned to Germany and turned himself in. He served three years in prison.
  • Bland-Name Product: Rather than refer by name to Stern, the once-proud magazine that was disgraced after publishing the diaries, in the movie Willié works for HH Press.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Willié brings one to Fritz at one point, when he's looking to buy more diaries.
  • Cassandra Truth: Both Biggi (Knobel's girlfriend) and Freya (Willié's girlfriend) tell Willié that the diaries are fake. He doesn't listen.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Fritz is sitting at his work while wearing an old Wehrmacht coat. He has a fever, and his sweaty hair sticks to his forehead. Then he spills some ink, cleans it up with his handkerchief, sneezes, cleans his nose and unwillingly leaves a spot looking like a Hitler moustache. And then, Willié comes in and tells him that people want proof that the diaries were written by no one but Hitler himself. Cue Fritz looking into a mirror.
  • Dramatic Drop: Martha, carrying a waitress's tray, drops it when Biggi shows up at the restaurant to confront her.
  • Fanservice: Sexy Martha posing fully nude for Fritz, as he paints his fake Eva Braun nude. They become lovers soon after.
  • Food Slap: Freya (Hermann Goering's niece) throws orange marmalade in Willié's face when he's inexcusably rude to her about her appearance at breakfast.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The newspaper Willié works for is called HHPress. On the surface, HH would refer to the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, but is also an abbreviation for "Heil Hitler".
  • Happily Ever Before: While Fritz in the movie gets a happy ending in which he escapes to Austria with his money and his two babes, Konrad Kujau went back to West Germany, and went to jail.
  • Hate Sink: Willié is a sleazy, corrupt, narcissistic, abusive, ungrateful and utterly idiotic Nazi sympathiser who repulses most other characters in the film.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Fritz, trying to defend himself from an angry Biggi after she confronts him about his affair, says "Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes." Cue Willié at the door with a Briefcase Full of Money, looking for more Hitler diaries.
  • Lovable Rogue: Fritz. He's a forger, but the only people he's hurting are Hitler-loving creeps like Willié.
  • Master Forger: Ironically, averted. Fritz doesn't even bother to disguise Martha's face on the Eva Braun portrait, which draws a suspicious glance from the guy who bought it when Martha works for him as a maid. He makes his diaries look old by spilling tea on them. He fools a handwriting expert by offering up different forged documents to compare to the diaries. He even blunders with the covers of his diaries. He attempts to put "AH" on the front of each, buying letters in the old Gothic script. Unfortunately he confuses a Gothic A for a Gothic F, leading the editors of the magazine to wonder why the diaries are lableled "FH". (They decide it means "Fuhrer Hitler" or "Fuhrer headquarters".)
  • Monochrome Past: The opening scene with the burning of Hitler's and Eva Braun's corpses is in black and white, as well as the scene of young Fritz selling a fake Hitler hat to a dumb GI, as well as the next scene where he meets Biggi while they're in their teens. When the film cuts to the present it also switches to color.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Willié when he reads the first entry. The (remember, fake) entry is about "Hitler" writing how he suffers from too much gas, and Eva Braun saying he has halitosis. Willié acts like it's holy writ.
  • Nazi Grandpa: Old-time Nazi nostalgics are featured throughout the film, many as young as Willié (who was a Hitler Youth). Most of them are so far up their own backsides in their cultish reverence of Hitler that they're completely blinded to the obvious fakery of Knobel's forgeries.
  • Polyamory: Biggi and Martha have a frau-mit-frau chat and soon Fritz, his wife, and his mistress are living together in a threesome. It's implied that the gobs of money Fritz is bringing home from selling the Hitler diaries is the reason for this.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Michael Seufert, a later editor of Stern Magazine (parodied as HHpress in the film), once asked director Helmut Dietl why he had chosen to leave out some of the juiciest and most outlandish factoids of the Hitler Diaries Scandal. Dietl answered that it would have stretched the audience's suspension of disbelief way too much.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Martha comes back to the studio after modeling for Fritz. It's raining and her white shirt has soaked through to show everything. She and Fritz commence an affair.
  • Shout-Out: "Schtonk" is not actually a German word; it's the faux-German word that Charlie Chaplin uses to express displeasure when in character as Adenoid Hynkel in The Great Dictator.
    • Many shots are tongue-in-cheek recreations of National Socialist propaganda art.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: Parodied. When the Dr. Wieland introduces himself to Freya, Field Marshal Goering's niece, she reminds him that she doesn't feel ashamed of her uncle. Dr. Wieland sheepishly draws a comparison to his uncle, who was active in La Résistance. She concludes that neither of them need to beat themselves up over the sins of their families.
    Dr. Wieland: Quite! Perhaps the two knew each other...
  • Stock Footage: The film begins with stock footage of bombing and street fighting in 1945 Berlin, before segueing to the story.
  • Time Passes Montage: A montage near the end shows an increasingly frantic Fritz writing diaries, while Willié continues to sell them to his editors, and newspapers and magazines around the world report on them.
  • Time Skip: "Many years in Swabia" leads us to Fritz, forging Hitler paintings for gullible old Nazis, and squabbling with his wife.
  • Title Drop: The Nazi presenting Hitler's first diary entry misreads "Gott sei Dank" (Thank God) as "Kotze Schtonk".
  • Villainous Breakdown: Willié reacts to definite proof that the diaries were written after the war by deciding...that Hitler must have survived the war and is still alive somewhere. He is sailing Goering's yacht to South America to look for the Fuhrer when he's arrested at the end of the movie.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The Food Slap from Freya to Willié is followed by him chasing after screaming "You bitch!" In the next scene, where she dumps him, she has a black eye.