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Deutscher Löwenherz
German theatrical release poster
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Produced by Bernd Eichinger
Written by Bernd Eichinger
Starring Xavier Schmidt

Marian Zimmerman
Robert Jaeger
Felix Weiss
Gunther König

Sebastian Voigt
Studio German National Film
Release date(s) July 5th 1997
Running time 175 minutes
Country Germany
Language German
English (dub)

Deutscher Löwenherz, translated to English as German Lionheart, is a German animated war film commissioned by the government of the Socialist Republic of Germany to present an accurate film biography of the life of FDJ Cadet Richard Müller.

The film was written and produced by Bernd Eichinger and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The duo also went on to create Der Untergang (Downfall), another (live-action) historical film depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's assassination. Löwenherz introduces child voice actors Xavier Schmidt as Richard Müller, a cadet of the Free German Youth who becomes martyred after his death at the hands of Nazis; and Gunther König as Reinhard Neuburg, Müller's Kaderleiter. The film was released on July 5th, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Müller's death. Löwenherz was animated by Georg Errinsen.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. An English dubbed version was released in North America on July 7th 1997, the 51st anniversary of the Battle of Gera. The dub was produced and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.


The film begins in the year 1934 in the city of Gera, Nazi Germany. A couple are in a Nazi registration office, registering the birth of their first child. The Nazi official asks what the child's name is to be. The new mother replies that his name is to be Richard Ludwig Müller. The official states that everything is in order. He salutes the parents, and they reciprocate before hurrying out of the room.

Fast forward to 1937. At the age of three, young Richard's parents begin teaching him in secret about communism, instilling the ideology within him. Richard understands and readily absorbs this.

Another jump in time to 1939. Five-year-old Richard is now being taught the tenets of Nazi ideology. He is told by his parents to perform the Nazi salute to all his teachers and friends at school, but to never lose his faith in communism. At school he is seen with his classmates saluting the Nazi flag.

In yet another jump, Richard's parents are rejoicing. The Führer has been assassinated and chaos has erupted in Berlin as communists struggle to seize power. Richard's parents and their associates begin planning a revolution in Gera.

The montage continues with shouts of 'Rot Front!' as the communist revolutionaries rise up against the Nazi administration of Gera in 1940. They succeed, and the mayor and city council surrender. The North German flag is raised to the top of the town hall's flagpole. Nazi flags and symbols are torn down and blown up.

Finally, in 1943, Richard is registered by his parents with the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ), North Germany's newly formed youth organisation. Richard is assigned to the new 5th Kinderkader. He is given his first uniform. He tries it on and shows it off before his parents. They applaud loudly.

The next day is the first meeting of the 5th Kinderkader. Richard meets Kadermentor Colonel Alfred Gauss of the German Red Army. Richard and his new comrades elect their Kaderleiter after several icebreaker and physical activities. Reinhard Neuburg is elected. Gauss begins teaching the Kader military formations. He makes references to Ancient Rome and Napoleonic France. Richard is thoroughly interested.

When Richard returns home, he recounts the day to his parents at the dinner table. His father approves of Gauss teaching his son such advanced topics at such an early age. His mother worries about whether he'll be able to keep up.

To be completed


Character German voice actor English voice actor
Richard Müller Xavier Schmidt
Samantha Hemel at 5 years old
Paula Korus at 3 years old
Wendy Derickson
Richard's mother Marian Zimmerman Amy Lawson
Richard's father Robert Jaeger Alfred St Clair
Colonel Alfred Gauss Felix Weiss Victor Constable
Cadet Reinhard Neuburg Gunther König Henriette Daniels
Gruppenleiter Johann Luitpold Sebastian Voigt Anton Kreuz