Though it was accepted as standard entertainment upon its first release, the German Jugend (Youth) has in recent years been perceived as an implicitly pro-Nazi tract. Adapted by Thea Von Harbou from a controversial 19th century play by Max Hulls, the story concerns a young girl named Annchen (Kristina Soderbaum), who from childhood onward has had her judgment warped by the self-righteous proclamations of a fanatical priest (Eugene Klopfer). After her first sexual experience, Annchen is so overwhelmed by guilt that she commits suicide, profoundly affecting the lives of those closest to her. Some critics have suggested that the film advises its audience to beware false prophets-except those wearing brown shirts and armbands, who will lead the populace from the opiate of religion to the glories of National Socialism. The fact that Jugend was directed by Kristina Soderbaum's husband Viet Harlan, one of the German film industry's leading torch-bearers for the Third Reich, has not been a point in its favor.
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