German filmmakers take control of their nation's Nazi past





Nazi storm troopers and tanks heading through the streets or even the sudden appearance of the Fuhrer at mass rallies would seem to be at odds with modern Berlin, which since the implosion of communism more than 18 years ago has become one of Europe's most vibrant capitals. But in recent years, the German capital has emerged as a major backdrop for a wave of new films and TV documentaries exploring the horrors of the Third Reich which have underscored the moves by German filmmakers to take control of their history 75 years after Hitler's rise to power.

The flood of movies and documentaries have included stories about an elite Nazi school as well as the life and times of propagandist Joseph Goebbels with the themes of many of the movies also making a break from the portrayal of the Second World War and the Nazis by British and Hollywood directors.
In addition there has been a movie about a rebellion by Jewish prisoners' wives and women forced to work as prostitutes for Germany's wartime army along with an at times chilling documentary- interview with Hitler's wartime secretary, Traudl Junge in Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary.

German-born Marc Rothemund's Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which is about two young students, Scholl and her brother, Hans, who were members of the White Rose resistance group during the Nazi years, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.
More controversial was Jewish director Dani Levy's Mein Fuehrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler, a comedy about the Nazi leader that met with scorn from some critics. Swiss-born Levy has lived in Berlin since 1980.

That said, however, new films about the Nazi leader have been a feature of the recent raft of movies produced in Germany and have helped to shed fresh light on the country's National Socialist history.
Indeed, it was Der Untergang (The Downfall) by Hamburg-born director Oliver Hirschbiegel portraying Hitler sinking into madness during his final 12 days trapped in his Berlin bunker that helped to spark a new debate in Germany about the terror and hate unleashed by the Nazis.

The Downfall's Oscar nomination in 2005 was sign of how "we attempt to bring a new perspective to German history," said Hirschbiegel....


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