The Schmooze

Friday Film: Selective Memory in East Germany

The East German anti-Nazi films “The Murderers Are Among Us,” “The Gleiwitz Case,” “I Was Nineteen,” and “Naked Among Wolves” have all been released on DVD before, but now they are being released together in a box set. Naturally, the juxtaposition of the four films invites comparisons. While “Murderers” and “Gleiwitz” are interesting, “Nineteen” and “Wolves” stand out as truly exceptional. Frustratingly, nearly all of the films are scarred by Soviet ideology.

“The Murderers Are Among Us” (1946) was the first film made in Germany after the war. It was shot on location amid the rubble of Berlin. The plot follows an alcoholic doctor who is haunted by a war crime committed by his former captain, who is now a successful industrialist. The doctor becomes obsessed with killing the war criminal. Watching this film is a bizarre experience, because the doctor was played by actor Ernst Wilhelm Borchert, who had in fact been a Nazi party member. I couldn’t stop thinking about the absurdity: “Wouldn’t the character Borchert is playing hunt down the actual Borchert?”

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Friday Film: Selective Memory in East Germany

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