Das Leiden anderer Missachten - Disregarding the Pain of Others

Article (German)
Editor Amin Farzanefar




The notion that it is time to 'normalise' seems to be gathering momentum in Germany "that as a German, one always feels guilty and that one's representatives do nothing to relieve one of this sense" German peace prize winner Martin Walser. A casual and dangerous disregard of the pain of Nazi victims and their descendants is in no uncertain terms to be felt in German culture and in general public debate.

The Mitscherlichs wrote about the mechanics of repression in Germany already in the 1960's; the fact that forced labour was exploited in the Flick weapons industry, also went unnoticed by leading politicians of the 80's in the Flick party donations affair. Today nobody sees the hypocrisy when Flick's grandson on the one hand refuses to pay compensation to forced labourers but his art collection that was financed by the exploitation of slave labour in the Nazi weapons industry is exhibited in Berlin museums.

Even if reports and films about the Nazi past are to be seen every day somewhere on German Television, one should not remain uncritical about the nature of the communication. Although the entertainment film 'Der Untergang' (Downfall) is based on historical facts and archival film material, Bernd Eichinger (author and producer) doesn't actually make the position clear in his film that tells of the great and mighty, the Hitlers and Goebbels of history and how they fell. The concerns of ordinary German people are hardly mentioned, or of the course of war and the genocide.

Tanya Ury, Cologne, November 2004
English translation from German Tanya Ury

Filmri : ss
Studien zum Untergang der Erinnerung

(Blackout - Studies on the Downfall of Memory) in German only

ISBN: 3-89771-435-3
ca. 148 sides
Price: ca. 14 Euro
Published in mid June 2005a

The focus is on the man Hitler - and the victims are faded out.

4 Million viewers in only four weeks saw Bernd Eichinger's production of 'Der Untergang' (Downfall) with Bruno Ganz (Switzerland) as Hitler, making it the greatest German cinema success of recent years. This Hitler-as-human spectacle demonstrates less the case of Germany's renewed interest in researching its history, rather that a new and self-confident wave of intention to dispose of such interest has arisen. Nonetheless academics welcome this film for its educational merits and politicians are more than pleased to note this recent self-confidence; artists and producers rave over the apparent authenticity of their artwork but above all, in matters of German history, they are content to know that this German film puts Hollywood in its place. What the film actually shows - and what it doesn't show, or what by its absence is revealed that remains unspoken throughout the film -, this volume written in the main by Unrast authors, brings together deep and wide ranging impressions and an overview on these issues.

The questions raised go beyond the film itself to questions of: meaning(lessness), position taking and the concept of identification, authenticity, empathy, historical awareness and the seal of silence on the past.

“…It would be meaningful to learn not to disregard the pain of others. Tanya Ury searches in vain for positive points examples of this in the Eichinger Film that has been advertised as being an educational film. This film spectacle on the other hand, demonstrates the continuity of a tradition in its attitude of denial regarding the victims, once more confirmed in the recent Flick scandal regarding their conduct towards former forced labourers…”

Willi Bischhof (English translation Tanya Ury)

The Authors: Bindseil, Ilse - Quadfasel, Lars - Nöske, Thomas - Ruoff, Alexander - Schmidt, Birgit - Weyand, Jan - Ury, Tanya - Steyerl, Hito

Alternative Search title:
[Bischof, Willi : Filmriss. Studien zum Untergang der Erinnerung. Unrast-Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-89771-435-3]
(Blackout - Studies on the Downfall of Memory)