This docudrama is based, in part, on Arnold Zweig's book The Axe of Wandsbek that tells the story of a riot on Sunday, July 18, 1932 in Altona (a Hamburg suburb). Brown-shirts looking for a fight marched into a neighborhood in Altona that was known to be leftist. The march provoked chaos, the police were called in, and 16 people were killed, almost all of them socialists or communists. Afterwards four communists were charged and sentenced to death, an execution carried out in 1933 with an axe. One of the four was a 19-year-old named Bruno Tesch, the one most clearly innocent of the charges against him. Tesch's story is featured in this docudrama, along with another story about a butcher named Albert Teetjen who was called on to execute four other communists in 1938 when the normal executioner was sick. Author Zweig discovered that a butcher had committed suicide after doing exactly what Albert Teetjen did in 1938, and putting two and two together, came up with the rest of his story. This film uses a combination of historical footage and interviews (with architect Albert Speer, participants in the 1932 riot, people who knew Tesch, and others) to provide a documentary complement to the fictionalized account of the events leading to Teetjen's death.
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