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13 Minutes 2015

13 Minutes: The Plot to Assassinate Adolf Hitler | Georg Elser

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Based on the true story of the man minutes away from almost killing Adolf Hitler.

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About the 13 Minutes 💬

  • Based on the incredible true story.

13 MINUTES a stunning, emotional portrait of the resistance fighter who tried to assassinate Hitler in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller on November 8th, 1939.

  • This man could have changed history.

Georg Elser was a man who could have changed world history and saved millions of human lives. If only he had had 13 more minutes. With 13 more minutes, the bomb he had personally assembled would have torn apart Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. But this was not to be, and on 8 November 1939, Hitler left the scene of the attempted assassination earlier than expected - leaving Elser to fail catastrophically. Who was this man who recognized the danger emanating from Hitler sooner than many others, who took action when everybody else, including the German generals, meekly followed orders or kept silent? What did he see which our parents or grandparents did not see or want to see? The man who told his torturers to their faces that he wanted to prevent the bloodshed of the imminent world war?

The film 13 MINUTES relates the background of the failed attack in the Bürgerbräukeller and paints a suspenseful, emotional portrait of the resistance fighter who was called ''Georgie'' in his hometown. A story that takes us from his early years in the Swabian Alps - when National Socialism arrived in his hometown - to his last days at the Dachau concentration camp, where he was killed shortly before the end of the war at the command of the one whom he himself wanted to kill, Adolf Hitler (Udo Schenk).

  • On November, 1939. An ordinary man attempted to save a nation.

During Hitler's anniversary speech on November 8, 1939, a man is arrested on the Swiss border for possession of suspicious objects. Just minutes later, a bomb explodes in the Munich Bürgerbräukeller, immediately behind the Führer's lectern, killing eight people. The man is Georg Elser (Christian Friedel), a carpenter from Königsbronn in the Swabia region. When a map of the site of the assault and detonators are found on him, he is sent to the head of the Criminal Police in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, Arthur Nebe (Burghart Klaussner) and the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller (Johann von Bülow) to be questioned. From them, Elser learns that his attempt has failed - that the man he wanted to kill in order to stop the bloodshed of the World War that had just begun, has left the Bürgerbräukeller 13 MINUTES before the explosion. For days, Elser is interrogated by Nebe and Müller, for days, he holds out against their questions. Until he finally confesses - and relates the story of his deed.

Thus, Elser remembers how National Socialism slowly metastasized in his home village. How he attempted to oppose it, together with his best friend Josef Schurr (David Zimmerschied) and a few others. How he met Elsa (Katharina Schüttler), fell in love with her, but because of his plans had to turn away from her, his friends and his family. And how, finally, he acted: How he built the bomb, and installed it at the site in long nights of work.


Q: 13 MINUTES is your first German film in almost ten years. What about it excited you so that it made you return to your home country?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: I found the script and the title character fascinating. I have always said: If a German topic comes along that captures me, I'm in immediately. That was the case here. At first, I read the script mainly out of curiosity, because I knew Georg Elser's story, and couldn't really imagine how it could be told in a thrilling way. But reading it, I found myself immediately pulled into the events. I couldn't put it down, wanting to know how it would play out, was surprised again and again - and towards the end came another two twists, astounding me extremely. At that point the latest, I knew that I simply had to do this film.

Q: You were already familiar with Elser's story?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: Yes, from the earliest youth. I have been occupying my self with the Third Reich since I could think straight. All the questions to which I never found an answer as a youth have not left me in peace till today: How was that possible? Why had no one done anything against it? Why was there never any serious resistance movement? In the attempt to find out as much as possible about the Nazi times, I encountered Georg Elser already during my school days. I thought him to be extremely interesting, although only a fraction of what we know about him today was known then. In those days, he was still stamped as this weird character who was obsessed with the idea of killing Hitler. Decades later, during the preparation for The Downfall, I stumbled across Elser again - and even then I thought by myself: What a captivating story!

Q: What about him has fascinated you most?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: His clear-sightedness. Elser is not a politically organized man after all, but simply a free spirit, who believes in individuality and self-determination. Someone who is curious about the world and who wants to escape the constrictions of rural life. Today, we might even call him a hippie. He feels energy that he regards as destructive - a system controlling everything, believing in violence and suppression of any individuality or creativity. This goes totally against his grain. And he senses a strong inner urge, to stand up against this system.

Q: Amazing, for a simple joiner from the countryside.

Oliver Hirschbiegel: Well, an open heart and the ability of prescience are not limited to certain education levels or the urban environment. Elser simply feels that he needs to do something. He knows that this will only work if he manages to take out this Hitler guy. And as an inventive tinkerer, he then considers how he could achieve this. That a man like this can muster the energy to realize a deed like that all on his own, is really phenomenal. Elser is anything but a terrorist, after all. I think, not a day goes by where he isn't moved in his heart by the thought of people going to die if his plan works out. That is really hard on him.

Q: Why was Georg Elser, other than Stauffenberg or the fighters of the White Rose, pointedly ignored for decades?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: On the one hand, there were several conspiracy theories: They claimed that Elser was a) a henchman of enemy intelligence services and thus a traitor of his own people or b) hired by the Nazis to execute the assault, so that Hitler could be celebrated as immortal. These theories have persisted in diverse variations, and have only been unequivocally disproved in recent times. On top of that: The thought, that such a small craftsman from the Swabia countryside is the only one to realize what is happening in Germany, and acting against it - that is shameful. Of course, that arouses the reflex to sweep this story under the carpet. So, high time to bring this to the big screen!

Q: Did you not have any misgivings, as there already were two films about Georg Elser?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: No. Rainer Erler's TV movie ''Der Attentäter'' is from the 1960s where Elser is still depicted as naïve misfit. And Brandauer's film is following a classic ticking clock arc of suspense à la Hollywood. Exactly that is avoided by the Breinersdorfers' script, and this is what I liked especially well: That here suspense is created via psychology, via the situation that a whole people is caught in. In a manner of speaking, 13 MINUTES for me is something like the backstory of Downfall: Whilst there I was concentrating on the final weeks of the Third Reich, here I'm talking about the 1930s, where the National Socialist movement is slowly spreading.

Q: How did your vision for the realization look in concrete terms?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: I wanted to create a feeling of being permanently ill at ease. This is the feeling I encountered again and again, when occupying myself with the Nazi regime. Jean Genet, too, did describe it thus, when he was hiking through Germany as a deserter, beggar and thief in 1937: To him, it appeared as if the whole country was caught underneath a huge bell jar. This is what I was trying to show, without denouncing the people. My intention was to depict the authentic life in the countryside in Germany in those days: A traditional village community, which is progressively infiltrated by the Nazis.

Q: How did you approach the interrogation scenes?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: To create an atmosphere of hopelessness, I never moved the camera during the interrogations: There are no panning or tracking shots, the takes are static, the images seem like walled in. I copied this from masters like Yasujiro Ozu and Akira Kurosawa, but naturally this could only work, because I had such tremendous actors at my disposal. If the camera never moves, the directing must be strong. There is no cheating.

Q: How did it work with Christian Friedel?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: Well, you could already tell in The White Ribbon what a fantastic actor he is. And I have to say: No one could have played Georg Elser even remotely like he does. Our first day of shooting already went so smoothly that we knew: We are like two brothers, steering a boat together. You just need to throw a look or a cue into the room, and at once everything moves in the right direction. It was the perfect symbiosis. In the run-up, I had only given a few keynotes to Christian concerning Elser, which he immediately understood and implemented.

Q: What can we learn from Georg Elser today?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: Moral courage. When do you reach the point where you say: ''I'm not going along with this anymore, I can't reconcile this with my conscience?'' That reminds me immediately of Edward Snowden. He, too, had observed over the years what was happening in an allegedly democratic system; this kept bothering him, until he got out and passed his information on to the public - even in the knowledge that this would put an end to his life as he knew it. He accepted having to be permanently on the run, being ostracised all over the world and living in fear of his life. Still, he stood up and said: ''This cannot be Concerning this inner urge, Snowden, this highly intelligent and sophisticated man, is not so unlike Elser.

Q: If now people buy a cinema ticket and watch the finished film what do they get for their money?

Oliver Hirschbiegel: You experience a fascinating personality, who surpasses himself. At the same time, you see a system that ruins the centuries-old traditions of a cultured people. And I believe, all this is told in such a way, that the viewer is not just staring unmoved at a museum piece, but gets swept into the story.


Q: What was your first reaction after reading the script? And how did you react when you were offered the title role?

Christian Friedel: The story had already captured me at the first reading. It was an interesting mixture of real historical events and fictitious interpretations. At first, I found it hard to put myself in the titular character's position, some things were alien to me. The casting had at first been concentrating on the interrogation scenes, and I found it exciting to focus on Elser's ''failure'', his pain, his anger and his determination. A part like this is a huge gift for any actor; it was clear to me, that I wouldn't be the only actor giving his all at the casting, and I didn't see much of a chance for myself, either. When I was finally accepted, I was simply flabbergasted and overjoyed.

Q: What attracted you most about the project?

Christian Friedel: The scope of character and development of the cinematic Georg Elser was extremely attractive. You meet him in his younger years as a freedom-loving, carefree ''Stenz'', musical and full of zest for living. His difficult relationship with his father, and his mother's strong religious faith are great points of friction for him. The gradual manifestation of his thoughts of having to act against the Nazis, up to the execution of his plan and the subsequent unlucky arrest, the torture and in the end the depression and the expiration of his joy of living - those are just terrifically exciting tasks for an actor.

Q: How was the work with Oliver Hirschbiegel?

Christian Friedel: Sometimes there are acts of providence, developments and encounters allowing you to take your artistic development to the next level. I am extremely grateful for being able to work with Oliver Hirschbiegel. He is deeply precise, demanding and a stickler for detail. Frequently we filmed scenes from different vantage points, and there was even room for improvisation. Besides, he is very good at leading a team and knows how to tell captivating, intense stories. And his experiences from America and England were very helpful in keeping the subject from coming across all portentous and heavy. For that might sometimes be a weakness of us Germans, that with all the gravity, we tend to lose the lightness of touch.

13 Minutes Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Oliver Hirschbiegel

Writing Credits

Fred Breinersdorfer

Léonie-Claire Breinersdorfer


Christian Friedel

Katharina Schüttler

Burghart Klaußner

Johann von Bülow

David Zimmerschied

Felix Eitner

Rüdiger Klink

Simon Licht

Cornelia Köndgen

Martin Maria Abram

Sebastian Fritz

Michael Kranz

Gerti Drassl

Lissy Pernthaler

Valentina Repetto

Anna Unterberger

Manfred-Anton Algrang

Michael Ehnert

Udo Schenk

Music by

David Holmes

Cinematography by

Judith Kaufmann

Category: EFA, European Film Award Nominee

Genres: Biography, Drama, War

Countries: Germany, Italy

13 Minutes Official Trailer

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