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German-Chinese Co-Production Plans John Rabe Movie

Following in the Hollywood footsteps of World War II Nazi-turned-hero Oskar Schindler, fellow Third Reich follower John Rabe is to be the subject of a new $20 million (14.2 million euro) Tinseltown blockbuster.

John Rabe stands with other ex-pats from the Nanjing International Safety Zone Committee

John Rabe, third from left, with the ex-pats who helped save Chinese lives

Rabe, a German businessman and Nazi, was part of a group of expatriates who set up a safety zone for Chinese refugees in the Japanese city of Nanking during the slaughter of at least 150,000 Chinese civilians and the rape of tens of thousands of women.

Filming of Rabe's story is expected to begin in the next few weeks and will be directed by German Florian Gallenberger, a student of director Wim Wenders and the winner of the best live action short film Oscar in 2001. The film will be a Chinese-German co-production between Huayi Brothers and Hofmann and Voges Entertainment.

There is no news at present as to who will play Rabe in the screen adaptation of the German's extensive diaries, which will be filmed in Shanghai and Nanjing, the modern name for Nanking.

Hundreds of thousands saved

Rabe, born in Hamburg in 1882, was a business representative for Siemens in Nanking from 1931.

Japanese troops arrive in Nanjing

Japanese troops killed thousands during the massacre

In December 1937, he set up the Nanjing International Safety Zone Committee with a group of foreign friends, which saved hundreds of thousands of local residents in one month during the notorious massacre. Rabe sheltered thousands of Chinese refugees in his own house over the course of the massacre and protected them from being killed.

The announcement of the film comes just weeks after the John Rabe House Development Fund was set up in Nanjing as part of the 3-year-long "Germany and China -- Moving Ahead Together" campaign.

The charitable fund will seek to generate revenue to support the John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall, and John Rabe International Research and Exchange Center for Peace and Reconciliation.

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