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: 3897714353
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)


2009 (8.4. – 11.4) Article as lecture (English version): Disre­garding the Pain of Others, PCA Confer­ence, New Orleans (USA)

Scroll to Top