Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07
The process of confronting the crimes and legacy of the Third Reich in Germany and Austria has been a long and difficult one. This course will look at a number of key films and directors from the past seven decades to examine the changing discourse and shifts in representation of the Nazi legacy in Germany and Austria. The course will proceed chronologically, encompassing both fiction and documentary film, offering the opportunity to compare and draw connections between films from different periods and of diverse genres.
|Session||First Sub Session||Credit Points||30 credits (15 ECTS credits)|
|Campus||Old Aberdeen||Sustained Study||No|
The process of confronting the crimes and legacy of the Third Reich in Germany and Austria has been a long and difficult one. In West Germany this process began in earnest following the 1968 student revolution, with a younger generation questioning the role that their parents had played in the Second World War. In Austria, the process of coming to terms with the Nazi legacy took substantially longer to get underway, and it is only over the past thirty years that the country's view of its role during the Third Reich has shifted decisively from that of victimhood to complicity, prompted by the Waldheim affair of 1986-88. The discussion about the Nazi past in the Federal Republic of Germany has further evolved following German re-unification in 1990. In both Germany and Austria, filmmakers have played a central role in the postwar era in reflecting the ongoing process of confronting a difficult and disturbing past. This course will look at a number of key films and directors from the past seven decades to examine the changing discourse and shifts in representation of the Nazi legacy in Germany and Austria. Students will be encouraged to draw on criticism of the individual films and relevant memory studies scholarship in order to develop their understanding of major developments since 1945 with regard to filmic representations of the Nazi past in Germany and Austria. The course will proceed chronologically, encompassing both fiction and documentary film, and students will be encouraged to work comparatively and draw connections between films from different periods and of diverse genres.
We will begin by looking at the first film made in postwar Germany, Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers Are Among Us, 1946) by Wolfgang Staudte, and its depiction of the immediate aftermath of the war and of the Holocaust. We will proceed to analyse Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (Veronika Voss, 1982) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and its portrayal of the pervasive culture of forgetting in postwar Germany. We will consider an exemplary Austrian documentary film which explores the climate of silencing and repression surrounding personal culpability and involvement in the Nazi war machine and in the Holocaust: Ruth Beckermann’s documentation of the self-exculpatory strategies of former Wehrmacht soldiers in Jenseits des Krieges (East of War, 1996). In the Austrian context, we will also look at Robert Schindel and Lukas Stepanik’s Gebürtig (2002), which charts the problematic return of the protagonist, a Holocaust survivor, to his hometown of Vienna in the late 1980s. The treatment of the Holocaust in the new Berlin Republic will be examined through Margarethe von Trotta’s Rosenstraße (2003). We will proceed to look at a documentary film which details the fraught endeavour of confronting a family legacy of National Socialism, with Malte Ludin’s 2 oder 3 Dinge, die ich von ihm weiß (2 or 3 Things I Know About Him, 2005) serving as an exemplary case study here. The phenomenon of the “comedic turn” in German fiction films about the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler will be explored through Dani Levy’s Mein Führer (My Führer, 2007). The course will conclude with a recent treatment of the Nazi legacy, Christian Petzold’s film Phoenix (2014), which comments on the insufficient confrontations with the legacy of Nazism in early postwar Germany through its engagement with earlier cinematic styles, such as that of the rubble film. Additional films may be added to the course to supplement the programme outlined above. On completion of the course, students will have gained knowledge and understanding of the various ways in which German and Austrian cinema since 1945 has both reflected and shaped the evolving discourse on the Nazi legacy.
Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.
One 2500-word essay (50%), one 2000-word essay (40%), seminar assessment mark (10%).
There are no assessments for this course.
Written and oral feedback.