Date

5-4-2020

Description

This study focuses on the representation of secret police systems- the Gestapo in Nazi Germany and the Stasi in the German Democratic Republic- in post-reunification German language films. During the 1990s, the Stasi became one of the most prominent symbols of East German communism and oppression; the Gestapo, through emerging scholarship, became a subject of interest within the Nazi repression system. Perceptions of these systems have been affected not only by developing research but popular media. Films have a particular impact on public memory; their portrayal of the GDR and the Nazi State color the views held by those who never experienced the regimes and even those who had. This project explores the particular aspects of the Stasi and Gestapo seen in popular media by analyzing different post-reunification films in light of scholarly estimates of the actual organizations. Analysis of Stasi documents reveal an obsession with the use of informants; this obsession has been passed on to film, where informants are frequently the main contact between the Stasi and those they are observing. In the case of the Gestapo, recent research reveals that the apparatus relied heavily on denunciations from the general public, a fact that is often ignored or downplayed by films. More often than not, the conflicts portrayed are between the protagonist and a singular officer. The discrepancy between media portrayals of these systems reflects the warped memories developed in the years since their collapse and the ongoing struggle to define German identities in a reunified country.

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May 4th, 12:00 AM

The Spies Are Among Us: German Secret Police in Post Reunification Film

This study focuses on the representation of secret police systems- the Gestapo in Nazi Germany and the Stasi in the German Democratic Republic- in post-reunification German language films. During the 1990s, the Stasi became one of the most prominent symbols of East German communism and oppression; the Gestapo, through emerging scholarship, became a subject of interest within the Nazi repression system. Perceptions of these systems have been affected not only by developing research but popular media. Films have a particular impact on public memory; their portrayal of the GDR and the Nazi State color the views held by those who never experienced the regimes and even those who had. This project explores the particular aspects of the Stasi and Gestapo seen in popular media by analyzing different post-reunification films in light of scholarly estimates of the actual organizations. Analysis of Stasi documents reveal an obsession with the use of informants; this obsession has been passed on to film, where informants are frequently the main contact between the Stasi and those they are observing. In the case of the Gestapo, recent research reveals that the apparatus relied heavily on denunciations from the general public, a fact that is often ignored or downplayed by films. More often than not, the conflicts portrayed are between the protagonist and a singular officer. The discrepancy between media portrayals of these systems reflects the warped memories developed in the years since their collapse and the ongoing struggle to define German identities in a reunified country.