Helmut Dietl
Helmut Dietl, Ulrich Limmer
SCHTONK! poster


Schtonk is a word made up by Charlie Chaplin for the "The Great Dictator", a satire on Hitler's Germany. Dietl’s SCHTONK! was a satire on contemporary German society, in response to the big publication fiasco of "Hitler’s diaries" a forgery ordered by an editor of the popular STERN magazine in 1983. In '86 I worked on an episode of Dietl's and Patrick Süskind's series "Kir Royal" – another social satire – and I had a lot of fun. The script of "SCHTONK" was one I wish I had written and I am especially troubled by the fact that I can’t remember why I left the project during preproduction. But neither of my colleagues, Benedikt Herforth and Harald Turzer – from VOYAGER – who continued with the production, can recall why I abandoned them. I will definitely find out as soon as I retire and start psychoanalysis. But I remember well an extensive location scouting in Hamburg, searching for the office of the weekly EXPRESS and the shipyard that would refurbish the CARIN II, the yacht that belonged to Gestapo founder and Luftwaffe leader Hermann Göring. I also remember endless discussions with Helmut. That is the only explanation for the story boards with a few scattered scenes that I had begun to draft. There is a lot of interesting design material on the SCHTONK! page on Benedikt’s site.



The largest and hardest to find item of the movie was the yacht CARIN II, which was built in 1937 in Hamburg to be offered by the "Reich’s Automobile Industry Association" to Hermann Göring. After the war the vessel passed to the Royal Navy and was baptized "Royal Albert". At the end of the 60s it reverted juridically to Göring’s wife Emmy, who sold it in 60s to a German industrialist to be bought in ‘78 by the journalist Gert Heidemann, companion of Göring’s daughter Edda and intermediary in the case of the fake Hitler diaries. We managed to find out that after the scandal and the conviction of Heidemann the Carin II was seized by the Deutsche Bank and sold to a rich Egyptian businessman and was anchored at Hurghada on the Red Sea.


The script began with the takeover of the Reich’s Chancellery by the Red Army and the rumour – controversial at the time – of a failed attempt to cremate the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun, by the Führer's guards. Dietl's intention was to use merciless satire to provoke even the German anti-fascists. I wasn’t in Germany when the movie opened, but I think he succeeded.




I still cannot say why I left the SCHTONK! project, which I liked so much, but from this postcard dated 2.7.91, sent by Benedikt and Harald from Hamburg to Athens, I conclude that at least we parted colleagially.