Children of no Importance
Peter, Lotte, and Frieda are illegitimate and have been packed off to foster parents. But the Zielke family is only interested in money. The father drinks, beats Peter, and eventually forces him to go out to work. When Lotte dies of pneumonia, Peter tells the health authorities the truth – that her real cause of death was exhaustion. The children are removed from the Zielke home. Frieda is taken in by a friendly miller and his wife, while Peter ends up with an unmarried lady. Then Peter’s biological father, a river boatman, shows up and asserts his right to have Peter work for him on board the boat ... Child labour and corporal punishment in the service of parental rights. The basis for making the film was an official report from a society for the protection of children against exploitation and cruelty, and socially committed director Gerhard Lamprecht brought to light a deplorable state of affairs that was widespread in the Weimar Republic. Unlike the romanticised depictions of child poverty in the US, featuring waif-like child stars such as Jackie Coogan, Lamprecht, the humanist son of a prison padre, combined his portrayal of blatant childhood misery with a call for reform.
Source: 68. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Catalogue)