John Rabe

by Florian Gallenberger

Whoever saves a life saves the entire world.

1937. For nearly 30 years now, businessman JOHN RABE has been living with his wife DORA in the capital city of China, Nanking, where he heads the Siemens branch. It is difficult for him to hand over the reins of the branch office to his successor, FLIESS, and return to Berlin. He has learned to love the country, and he knows that while he is a man of influence here, at the Siemens headquarters in Berlin he will be only one employee among many. During the farewell ball in his honor, Nanking is bombed by Japanese airplanes following the Japanese army's capture of Shanghai. As panic breaks out, Rabe resolutely opens the company gates and offers refuge to the families of his employees.The next morning, while the fires are being extinguished and the damage examined, the foreigners who stayed in the city discuss what they should do in this dangerous situation. The German Jew and diplomat DR. ROSEN tells them about a safety zone for civilians that was set up in Shanghai. Right away VALÉRIE DUPRES, the director of the Girls' College, thinks the idea is fantastic, and she nominates John Rabe as chairman, because as a German he's more or less an "ally" of the Japanese. Her suggestion annoys DR. WILSON, senior physician of the local hospital, because he detests the "Nazi" Rabe. Actually, Rabe had wanted to leave for Germany the next day. But now he decides to stay, and immediately gets down to work.While the Imperial Japanese Army unleashes a wave of brutality on the civilian population Rabe and his comrades courageously and skillfully negotiate with the Japanese and wrest a guarantee for a safety zone from them. Hundreds of thousands of people pour into the zone - much more than expected. However, the Japanese continue to harass and attack the population, and it becomes more and more difficult to get supplies. Then the Japanese plan to use a pretense to storm the zone - and a race against time begins for Rabe...

Genre / Language / Length
Drama / German, English, Chinese, Japanese / 129 minutes
Original title
John Rabe
directed by
Florian Gallenberger (JOHN RABE, COLONIA)
produced by
Hofmann & Voges Entertainment, EOS Entertainment and Majestic Filmproduktion, in co-production withWang Zhongjun & Wang Zhonglei / Huayi Brothers and Pampa Production
  • Ulrich Tukur (THE LIVES OF OTHERS)
  • Gottfried John
  • Anne Consigny
  • Steve Buscemi

Press Quotes

„Stunning! One of the year's best! “

„Handsomely mounted…packs a forceful punch!”

“Affecting! Demonstrates that however much we know about the worst of all wars, it has little-known corners that can amaze you.”

"Credible and entertaining.."
The Hollywood Reporter

"…a straightforward narrative and handsomely designed, big-scale production. Drawn from Rabe's diaries, the film is rich in telling and ironic details. A formidable actor who came to international attention in the 2005 best foreign film Oscar winner "The Lives of Others" as a staunch Stasi official, Tukur has a quietly galvanic presence — and even resembles the actual Rabe, who died in poverty in Berlin in 1950, his humanitarianism not honored in Germany until 2003.”
Kevin Thomas – Los Angeles Times