Season 3 of critically-acclaimed German crime drama Babylon Berlin is now available in the U.S. and Canada on MHz Choice!

The History Behind BABYLON BERLIN Season 3




“The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality and stability.

The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”

– Bertrand Russell, “Freedom,” ed. by Ruth Nanda Anshen (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1940)

Every century is an epoch of transformation, innovation and brutality. The beginning of the 20th Century was a reaction to the Enlightenment with a cacophony of “isms” brewing in the cauldron stirred by Mussolini’s “fascism” (he coined the term in 1919) influencing the German version of National Socialism (“Nazism”) put into practice by Hitler. The perversion of Marx’s “socialist” doctrine by Lenin and Stalin after WWI eliminated the last Czar of Russia along with his family and substituted a “totalitarian[ism]” form of government. 

Season 3 of Babylon Berlin depicts Germany’s descent into political and economic hell. This is the result of the 1929 New York Stock Market Crash whose reverberations could be heard around the world. These seismic changes will sharply contrast the untouched luxury of the bourgeoisie and the Old Guard elites with the unprecedented squalor and suffering of das Deutsche Volk (the working class). The rising tide of National Socialism engulfs all German citizens with an expanse of danger and violence turning into totalitarianism and genocide for the glorification of the Third Reich.

“Die Goldene Zwanziger” in Germany is a booming era despite its crippling WWI reparation payments and demilitarization. Although Germany’s economy is booming because of foreign investments, the people naively invest their life savings and borrow more money from banking and lending institutions to buy shares in companies traded on the German Stock Market. They spend discretionary funds more freely on all aspects of the entertainment industry, which became an important revenue stream for many including studio owner Edgar Kasabian ‘der Armenier’ (Misel Maticevic) and his not so silent partner, American gangster Walter Weintraub (Ronald Zehrfeld).

Upon Weintraub’s release from prison, he and Edgar go to the studio where American investor Jo Bellmann’s (Bernhard Schuetz) movie is shooting with star Betty Winter., Meanwhile, Charlotte (Live Lisa Fries) makes several attempts to visit her friend, Greta Overbeck (Leonie Benesch) in prison. Greta refuses to see anyone and does not retract her original statement – at first. She becomes a willing pawn of Richard Pechtmann (Jacob Matschenz) and Horst Kessler (Julius Feldmeier), the two Nazis reporting to Rotenfuehrer Walter Stennes (Hanno Koffler) who duped her into connecting the fuse at the end of season two. Legal Aid lawyer Hans Litten (Trystan Puetter) attempts to overturn her sentence, but he is hampered by Councilor Wendt (Benno Fuermann) – Benda’s replacement. Charlotte (Live Lisa Fries) and Rath (Volker Bruch) investigate Betty Winter’s murder, suspecting her husband, Tristan Rot (Sabin Tambrea) who attempts to conjure her spirit in a masked and caped séance (reminiscent of Kubrick’s 1999 film, Eyes Wide Shut) presided over by the unscrupulous Dr. Schmidt (Jens Harzer). Dr. Schmidt is a proponent of controversial psychoanalytic theories and exercises a demonic power over his subjects. Continuing problems plague the completion of Betty Winter’s film as heavy financial losses result in costly delays. Enter Esther Kasabian, Edgar’s wife, an actress and singer (Meret Becker, a welcome surprise for Tatort: Streets of Berlin fans) who wants to return to her roots by re-shooting the film with her ideas and new songs.

At police headquarters, Charlotte must pass the test to become Assistant Inspector, but she is hampered by Chief Police Archivist and forensic expert, Leopold Ulrich who is stewing in  jealousy and lack of recognition.

A concurrent storyline involves Rath’s friend and former rooming house neighbor, journalist Samuel Katelbach (Karl Markovics) and their former landlady, Elisabeth Behnke (Fritzi Haberlandt). Hitler’s Brown shirts threaten the Jewish newspaper publisher of Katelbach’s articles by beating him and destroying his office even though he doesn’t know where Katelbach is hiding. Meanwhile, across town, Rath’s sister-in-law, Helga leaves his apartment with her son and takes up residence in the Nyssen family’s private residential hotel apartment leading to unforeseen events. Continuous problems befall Alfred Nyssen (Lars Eidinger) whose revenge has no limits. Taking advantage of the short selling on the NY Stock Exchange that leads to the unforeseen October 29,1929 Crash whose cataclysmic effects will be felt around the world for years to come, Nyssen feels overly confident that he will make a fortune. However, as foreign investors withdraw funds from the German Stock Market, he still believes that he will be able to buy back shares at a depressed price. The German Stock Exchange, Borse Frankfurt, formerly Frankfurter Wertpapierborse(FWB), is the world’s third oldest and 12th largest stock exchange with a market capitalization of US$2.37 trillion as of March 2023. The catastrophic effect of the market crash will create hyperinflation intensified by massive unemployment and homelessness. Enter Germany’s Saviors — the National Socialist Party to the rescue.

The destruction of pure, Aryan German values by corrupt and contaminated outside influences and people becomes a key theme of National Socialism. Antisemitism, anti-homosexuality and eugenics transform the NSDP (National Socialist German Worker’s Party) platform into a ruthless, violent mob instigated by the Russian-composed “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” propaganda, and later on with media/publishing censorship, films (Jud Suss, 1940).

Jewish exclusions from schools and employment opportunities are the harbingers of doom along with the destruction/looting of Jewish-owned businesses by Hitler Youth (Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938) in various cities.

The worst is yet to come.

“Political economics is when people wonder why they don’t have money.”

– Kurt Tucholsky, “Die Weltbuehne,” September 15, 1931, p. 393

EDITOR’S NOTE: We happily discovered Dr. Pearl Brandwein while reviewing MHz Choice subscriber feedback on our programs and, after reading a half dozen or so of Dr. Brandwein’s insightful reviews, all of us here at MHz Choice had the same thought: We need to get the good doctor to write for us! Enjoy! -MHz Choice

About the author:
A lover of Romance languages and cultures, Dr. Pearl Brandwein has a Certificate in French Culture and Civilization from the Sorbonne. She then earned both her Masters’ degree in French Language/Literature and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from New York University. Dr. Brandwein’s areas of academic expertise include the Renaissance and the Faust Figure in European Literature in addition to 19th and 20th Century Drama. Her other interests include writing about Holocaust Literature.

Dr. Brandwein began her teaching career at Princeton University followed by faculty positions at other academic institutions. In addition to French, she has also taught German, Latin, English Composition and ESL to corporate executives. After academia, she held numerous positions in the public and private sectors working as an Editor/Instructor/Administrator and as a PR professional and business communications executive directing editorial and marketing initiatives for EU clients.

She is a cineaste and a lover of Film Noir, Westerns and foreign films as well as a theatre and opera buff; she also attends concerts, lectures, ballet performances, museum and gallery exhibitions. In her rare spare time, she reads voraciously.


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