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ZDF Enterprises co-produces new post-WW II history documentary 'Lawless'

Mainz, January 13th, 2021

Filming has completed on a new documentary, Lawless (2 x 50’, 1 x 50’ Special), chronicling the horrific brutality and crimes committed in Germany during 1945-1949 as the country lay in ruins, following the end of World War II.

Co-produced by ZDF Enterprises and produced by Februar Film for ZDFinfo and ZDF.History, the series was filmed in a dozen different locations in Germany. 

Leading experts such as the American historian and author, Scott Krause, and Russian historian and human rights activist, Nikita Petrov, along with criminal investigators take a look at some of the most notorious criminal cases of the post-war era, in both West and East Germany. Examining that turbulent four year period from a new angle, the series paints an intriguing, as well as shocking, portrait of life in a war torn society where self-preservation overrules moral and ethical considerations.

Ralf Rueckauer, Vice-President of ZDFE.unscripted, said: “Historical documents, archive footage, interviews with witnesses, new material filmed at crime locations and reenactments combine to make Lawless a documentary that audiences will find compelling and emotional.”

Traumatised from the war, many thousands are homeless and displaced, hunger is rife and criminality is at an all-time high. Rape and murder in the ruins of bombed-out cities, theft and extortion as everyone is out for themselves. Perpetrators during this period include the Gladow-Gang, a criminal organisation of around 70 members, led by a 16 year old boy, Werner Gladow, were responsible for the most brutal robberies in Berlin. Willi Kimmritz also stands out having raped over 30 women and murdered 4 in a 3 year period.

The series looks at high-profile murders linked to black market trading with members of the occupying forces. The killing of 37-year-old Zenta Hausner, who was heavily involved in illegal dealings with US military personnel, shocked locals. Known as the ‘Queen of Garmisch’, Hausner played on all sides, with smugglers as well as military commanders. She knew too much and paid for it with her life.

Lawless, available from ZDF Enterprises as a two part series or a one-off special, is currently in post-production and will deliver in spring 2021.


About ZDF Enterprises
ZDF Enterprises was founded in 1993 as a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest and most renowned TV broadcasters in Europe. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the worldwide sale of programs, the making of international coproductions, the acquisition of licenses as well as the merchandising of strong program brands in its own name, for the ZDF, and for third parties. ZDF Enterprises has successfully established itself as an independent market player on the German and international stage. Bound into a strong group, the company manages the largest German-language stock of programs in the world and, next to this, a continuously growing portfolio of international productions consisting of series and miniseries, TV movies, documentaries and children’s programs. In the course of the development and diversification process carried out up to now, many business fields in the television and media domains were made accessible in the ZDF Enterprises group. Thus ZDF Enterprises can provide a comprehensive, full-service offering today, and covers every step in the chain of origin and exploitation of successful TV programs, from development to production and up to the marketing of TV licenses, merchandising rights, online rights and much more.

Contact ZDF Enterprises
Christine Denilauler (Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, D-55127 Mainz/Germany, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, Fax: +49 6131-9912130, e-mail:,


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany