Die Teufelsanbeter
(The Devil Worshippers)

Directed by Marie-Luise Droop (1920)
Based upon a book by Karl May


     Carl de Vogt (Kara ben Nemsi)

     Meinhard Maur (Hadschi Halef Omar)

     Bela Lugosi



Kara ben Nemsi, the brave world traveler, and his faithful companion, Hadschi Halef Omar, ride through Kurdistan to the Mosul. On the way they come to a town of Jesidi that soldiers have destroyed. The only survivor, crouching next to the site of the still smoking wreckage, tells them the story of her ill-fated people. Jesidi, or devil worshippers, are a secret sect, and are rumored to worship the principle of evil in the form of an angelic peacock. It is said that during their celebrations in the shrine of Sheik Adi, the cult performs wicked crimes. Because of that they are equally hated by Christians and Mohammedans.

Kara ben Nemsi learns that the ruler Wali has sworn to destroy the alleged devil-worshippers, but in reality the raid on peaceful Jesidi townspeople is to enrich his own pocket. Kara ben Nemsi promises to the crying old woman that he will return her captured relatives. But he has come too late to rescue all the innocents, because Melike, the holy Jesid Pir Kamek's beautiful granddaughter, has died in prison. The evil Pasha had told her in her cell of the death and funeral of her lover.

A punishment has been passed over the remaining Jesidi: Pir Kamek must carry the coffin of his dead granddaughter on his back through the city, and anyone who helps him will be severely punished. Despite the Wali's rage, his young nephew, the young officer Nassyr Bej, had secretly fallen in love with the dead girl, and he can not bear to watch Pir Kamek break down under the weight of the coffin. Meanwhile, the Pasha suspects that the remaining Jesidi have escaped punishment so he has them buried up to their necks in the glowing desert sands. In this way he hopes to "burn out" their idolatry.

Kara ben Nemsi and Hadschi Halef rescue Pir Kamek and free the prisoners. They then ride over the Mosul and warn the enraged Wali of the consequences of his cruel acts. Nevertheless, when the soldiers catch Nassyr Bej, the Wali tears off his epaulettes and orders his execution. But before the execution can take place, a fierce wind arises and blows down a minaret from which a shattered brick injures the Pasha. The Pasha then learns that the Anatolian military judge will be inspecting the Wilajet, and the Pasha must flee for his life. He needs money and decides to attack the remaining Jesidi and burn down their village.

Kara ben Nemsi and Hadschi Halef arrive at the village ahead of the Wali to warn them of his coming. That night, the Jesidi hold their mysterious celebration, and Kara ben Nemsi descends with the Emir into the catacombs where the oldest emblems of God are on the altar. In the meantime, Nassyr Bej falls in the defense of the Jesidi. The Wali, in a blind rage, storms down to the catacombs where Pir Kamek pulls the Wali down with him onto the blazing depths of the altar. The rest of the regiment want to utterly destroy the Jesidi, but Sheik Adi and the Emir make peace.

My sincere thanks to the KARL MAY VERLAG for the use of these rare photos and filmscript.

No copies of Die Teufelsanbeter are known to exist.