Carrying out the research

Within the historical context outlined above, the present study aims to answer three main questions. In the first place, which narrative forms and cinema-tographical means do the selected films use to represent the war experience Secondly, how did the critics react to the war films Thirdly, on the basis of the cinematic representations of the war and the reactions they received, what can be said about the process of coming to terms with the war These questions will be discussed specifically in...

Chapter arrangement

This book has been set up thematically, which enables me to study how different directors captured certain aspects of the war, and if and how a cinematic approach of the same theme changed over time. It is very interesting to compare a navy film such as Unsere Emden from 1926 with the remake done in 1932, Kreuzer Emden, however short the intervening six years may seem. The Weimar Republic was subject to major changes in these years. The same is true for the press reactions to both films. During...

Complex representations

Another criterion for critical appreciation was consequence of style. Most of these war films, however, were stylistic hybrids, containing all kinds of footage archive material, constructions and fiction. When the filmmakers combined these images, the aim was usually to create as realistic an effect as possible. In accordance with the notion of New Objectivity, realism was highly appreciated by the critics, if it was not too revealing. The use of different kinds of footage, however, often...

Comradeship heroism and nationality

The representations of the violence of war inspired many critics to make political statements, and this was also true for the characters in the films. The analyses of the films showed that the characters, including their actions and motives, represented certain meanings and values. The three main categories of meaning in which these actions and motives were placed - by the critics as well - are comradeship, heroism and nationalism. How these were then judged often dependend on the ideological...

Contents

The aftermath of the First World War 11 Research into war films film historians 16 Cultural historians Eksteins, Winter and Mosse 21 Chapter 1 'Lehrreich und am sant' - Historical films in the German film industry during the First World War 36 From relative stability to crisis 53 Chapter 2 'Die Legende von der Unschuld' - Films about the run-up to the war, especially 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem The Weimar Republic and the Kriegsschulddebatte 60 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand 63...

Critical reception of

There is an abundance of source material about 1914, at least as far as film reviews are concerned. 1914 is quite different from what the other two films discussed above may have been. The director of 1914 apparently meant to make a serious historical production, and, accordingly, based his film on source material that had received official approval. This also meant that most critics did not approach this film the way they would have done any other film. In several reviews, it is clear that the...

Critical reviews

The reviews of both films strongly focus on the romantic nature of the films. Reactions to the relations between England and Germany are woven into the reviews. The scenes of sea battles and their historical reliability are dealt with only indirectly. Neither was there much controversy where the political tendencies of the films were concerned. Reactions in the press indicate that U9 Weddigen, in particular, was a rather sentimental film.102 The female roles especially, including Hella Moja who...

Criticism mythologisation and intertextuality

It should hardly come as a surprise that the critical appreciation of these films varied. This was not only due to the fact that the films were rather different, but also because of contextual aspects. Unsere Emden received reasonably positive reviews. This was mainly due to the objective approach to the past, or because it was, as the Film-Kurier put it, 'ein sachlich verfilmter Admiralstabs-bericht' produced by 'Fanatiker der Sachlichkeit'.27 The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung also judged the...

Die Legende von der Unschuld

Films about the run-up to the war, especially 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand The Weimar period was characterised by numerous burning questions which each in their turn, or simultaneously, troubled public opinion. One of these was receiving attention almost constantly the negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Versailles and the issue linked to them, that is, the question whether or not Germany was to blame for the outbreak of the First World War. In order to prove that Germany did not...

Film Culture in Transition

Double Trouble Chiem van Houweninge on Writing and Filming Thomas Elsaesser, Robert Kievit and Jan Simons (eds.) Writing for the Medium Television in Transition Thomas Elsaesser, Jan Simons and Lucette Bronk (eds.) Between Stage and Screen Ingmar Bergman Directs Egil Tornqvist The Film Spectator From Sign to Mind Warren Buckland (ed.) Film and the First World War Karel Dibbets and Bert Hogenkamp (eds.) A Second Life German Cinema's First Decades Fassbinder's Germany History Identity Subject...

Film in the Weimar Republic

After the war, a period began in which cinema attendance was extremely pop-ular.91 This development could also be seen elsewhere in Europe, its cause probably having something to do with the widespread feeling of war fatigue.82 If going to the cinema had already been popular on the eve of the First World War, after the war it turned out to be a popular leisure activity, even for the middle classes.83 Also, the status-boosting effect of cinema attendance coincided with the gradual recognition of...

From relative stability to crisis

Despite the fact that the second half of the 1920s remained full of unrest, it was nevertheless the most stable period of the republic. This was due to political and economic factors, such as the 1925 election of Paul von Hindenburg as president of the republic. The embodiment of German heroism during the First World War and new political beacon for the right had been put forward as a candidate for the second round by the right-wing parties. Von Hindenburg's victory had made the republic more...

German film industry during the First World

The outbreak of the First World War gave a new impulse to the development of a national film industry. Germany closed its borders to its enemies, gradually putting most of its competitors in the film industry out of business,22 after a brief initial period when all kinds of exceptions crossed the border.23 The Kinematograph reported on the new situation as follows Vor ca. drei Tagen schon sind die franz sischen Staatsangeh rigen der grossen Pariser Firmen Pathe, Gaumont usw. nach ihrer Heimat...

History and tragedy

The two story lines in Tannenberg are closely interrelated. The first story paints the general historical picture of the Battle of Tannenberg at a macro-level, while the second story line is at micro-level, showing the events in and around the manor of landowner captain Von Arndt and his family and servants.127 The film opens with a reference to the current situation with images of the Tannenberg monument at dusk. With this reference, the film itself is incorporated into the commemoration cult,...

Index of Names

Abel, A. 291 Albers, H. 177, 294 Alberti, F. 67, 298 Allen, R. 17 Andersen, L. 293 Andra, F. 45 Arna, L. 292 Arnheim, R. 36 Arno, S. 296 Asther, N. 177 Auen, K. 115 Balasz, B. 36, 54 Barnay, M. 296 Bassermann, A. 65, 291 Bayern, R. von 98 Becce, G. 40, 292,299 Becker-Sachs, C. 200 Begas-Sohn 115 Benjamin, W. 19 Benzler, D. 299 Berchtold, L. 71, 85 Berger, M. 51 Betz, H-W. 36, 82 Bienert, G. 296 Bismarck, O. von 42, 47, 161 Blasco Ibanez, V. 49 Bloch, E. 19 Blythe, S. 106 Bolvary, G. von 194...

Info

The first instance of a serious film review practice came with the establishment of a number of specialist periodicals, Der Kinematograph (1907), the Erste Internationale Film-Zeitung (1908) and Lichtbildbuhne (1908).18 The first and latter remained influential for a long time, while the Film-Zeitung was already shut down in 1920. Other important specialist periodicals that appeared after the First World War were Film-Kurier, Reichsfilmblatt and Der Film. These periodicals covered news and had...

Introduction

The aftermath of the First World War 'The war experience is an ultimate confirmation of the power of men to ascribe meaning and pattern to a world, even when that world seems to resist all patterning.'1 This quotation from Eric John Leed's No man's land puts the main concern of the present study in a nutshell, that is, the problematic nature of ascribing meaning and form to an unprecedented historical experience, the experience of the First World War. It is the reflection of research into...

Motherhood and fatherland

Comparing the descriptions of the contents of Das deutsche Mutterherz and DFDT, we can say that the character of Regine is much more complex than that of Frau Erdmann. The latter only had the role of mother, as is already indicated by the title, with no less than five children. The fact that Regine Vollrath has only one son leaves 'room' for other roles, such as that of friend (of the colonel) and nurse. The roles of these two women can also be taken as symbols, the more so since the titles of...

Myths

The question whether the war films offered a reliable perspective on the war was not the central issue in this study, but it has been discussed implicitly. For example, the themes of the films were placed in their historical or historiographical contexts. The aspect of historical reliablity was mostly discussed by allowing the contemporary critics to speak for themselves. Among the film narratives about the war, there were those in which the war was mythologised. In historical myths,...

Notes to Chapter

1 Film-Kurier 23 December 1926 (-e-). From a review of Unsere Emden. The line continues with '(dagegen unser Sch tzengraben- und Materialkrieg )'. 2 In this chapter, navy films are taken to mean those historical films that deal with the First World War, unless indicated otherwise. Comical navy films, the so-called 'Milit rklamotten' such as Die eiserne Braut (Carl Boese, 1926) were also very popular. 3 Cited by Michael Epkenhans, 'Die kaiserliche Marine im Ersten Weltkrieg Weltmacht oder...

Political context

As we saw earlier, the meaning of 1914 as a controversial film had already been pre-figured by the problems created by the censorship authorities. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that the censor made a name for him self in this way. Due to the various vicissitudes surrounding German or foreign films, the need arose in the early nineteen thirties, especially with the right-wing political parties Zentrum, DVP, DNVP and NSDAP, to review, that is, sharpen up, the 1920...

Preface and Acknowledgements

People have often wondered why I chose to spend so much time of intensive research on a subject so loaded with violence and human suffering. In daily life I am known as someone more interested in harmony and balance than in conflict and extremes. Maybe my fascination for historical events of violence originated from the need to understand how people can cope with such tragic and extreme experiences. War is the situation which produces the greatest upheavals in the life of individuals as well as...

Press sources

The various 'voices of the press' which are discussed in this study cover the political spectrum from the communist left to the National Socialist right. On the extreme left wing, I have chosen Die Rote Fahne (1918-1933) and Die Welt Am Abend (1926-1933), published by Willi M nzenberg. While the former was the party newspaper for the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, the latter was connected to the Internationale Arbeiterhilfe - the Leninist M nzenberg had been connected to the Unabh ngige...

Representations of the First World War in German films of the Weimar period

The translation of this book was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Front cover illustration Conrad Veidt in Die andere Seite Back cover illustration Hermine Sterler and Helga Thomas in Deutsche All photographs Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv Berlin Original title Filmfront Weimar, 1998, Hilversum, The Netherlands Translated by Hans Veenkamp Cover design Kok Korpershoek, Amsterdam Lay-out japes, Amsterdam isbn 90 5356 598 1 (hardcover) isbn 90 5356 597 3 (paperback)...

Screening the war

What was actually shown to the audiences during the war years It emerges from the two main specialist film periodicals, Kinematograph and Lichtbildb hne, that the film industry adjusted almost immediately to the changes after the first days of August 1914.55 People were generally aware that they would be asked to fulfil new tasks.56 In the impending years of war, audiences would need images that provided up-to-date information, stirred up patriotism and a fighting spirit, as well as images that...

Somme and Douaumont monuments for the unknown soldier

Someone looking for the name of Heinz Paul in film chronicles on the Weimar era will search in vain. Nevertheless, this former officer was one of the most important directors of German war films.89 As he was not included in the lists of artists of the Weimar era, the same fate awaited him as did his war films. Apart from a number of feature films on World War I, he also shot three war documentaries Somme (1930), Douaumont (1931) and Tannenberg (1932). Douaumont is the most documentary film of...

Tannenberg without Von Hindenburg

An interesting event preceded the opening of Tannenberg, which took place late September 1932. The film had been shot in the summer of that same year. Partly, it was shot at the Ufa Studios in Babelsberg, while the open air shooting took place in East Prussia and in the Masur Lakes area, the areas where the actual battle had been fought.115 Originally, the film was due for release on 26 August 1932, the day on which the eighteenth anniversary of the Battle of Tannenberg was to take place....

The battle at the Somme

Notwithstanding the criticism, there was one exceptional scene that was generally considered very impressive. This scene did not concern the filmic representation of the battles at Tannenberg, Ypres or Douaumont, but that of the battle at the Somme, which most critics considered the cinematographical high point and emotional epicentre of the film. Although the Somme sequence was practically equal in length to the Douaumont sequence (13 minutes), it turned out that most critics had not only...

The beginning of the war

Protagonists in films are usually presented through characteristic features. The first sequence shows with which characteristics the director(s) associated the protagonist of Germany or the German people. After the opening caption 'Im Segen des Friedens bl hten ' there are images of vast farmlands with a cart taking farmers to their work (these images are similar to the opening sequence of Tannenberg) industrial areas with images of smoking chimneys, factories, rotating machines, a steam engine...

The military in film

It turned out to be inevitable that films about a controversial past - still so fresh in people's memories - were followed very closely. Namenlose Helden (1925) and Volk in Not (1926)106 were among the first war films after 1918 to depict the battlefields. The latter was not the only war film to see the light of day in 1926. It was followed by Feldgrau, Das Deutsche Mutterherz, Brandstifter Europas, Ich hatt'einen Kameraden and Die versunkene Flotte. Nevertheless, these individual films...

The War Experience

Let us give some thought to the war experience itself for a moment. Besides the question how the social circumstances of the time played a role in coming to terms with the war, this of course also depends on the nature of the experience. The experience of the war was new in nearly all respects, not only because of the confrontation with the enormous casualty figures, but also because of the way the war was conducted. The offensive strategy which led to an almost static defensive line of...

The Weimar Republic and the Kriegsschulddebatte

On Wednesday 21 January 1931, an extraordinary event took place. In the Tauentzien-Palast, one of the oldest cinemas in Berlin-Sch neberg, Richard Oswald's film 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand premiered.3 Both the director and the film (and its run-up) already enjoyed some measure of fame.4 The premiere sparked so much interest that many visitors had to be disappointed. The audience included a large number of officials members of the Prussian federal government, senior civil servants,...

Zensur der bse Engel

In October 1930, Richard Oswald began shooting 1914 in the Ufa studios at Babelsberg. Since the subject was a sensitive one, both nationally and internationally, he had at an early stage asked the Foreign Ministry for help. He did not not just want official approval of the script, so that he would be covered against any objections from the powerful censorship authorities, he also wanted the ministry's advice on this historically complicated issue. It is not known how exactly the ministry...

Emil Ludwig and the Kriegsschuldfrage

The book Juli 14, published in 1929 by Rowohlt publishers, was at least as controversial as Oswald's film. It appears that, while the film credits do not actually refer to the book, the writers of the screenplay, Heinz Goldberg and Fritz Wendhausen, had at least allowed themselves to be inspired by Ludwig's book. A report that appeared in Lichtbildbuhne of 12 September 1930 seems to underline this. It said that Oswald and Rowohlt had been negotiating about the production of a film version of...

Films about the German navy during the First World

The battle at sea was an important part of the war. After England had declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914 following the German army's violation of neutral Belgian territory, plans were afoot '(England) in die Knie zu zwingen', to force England to its knees. Two powerful weapons would be deployed to this end, the Zeppelin and the U-boat. Not surprisingly, expectations were high. Even before the war, the navy had gained a special place in the German consciousness. This national pride...

Neid Leid Trnen das ist der Krieg

Although male characters such as soldiers or marines dominated war films in numbers, female characters also played a substantial role. One need only think of the respective spouses of czar Nicholas II, in 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand, of Karl in Westfront 1918 and of troop captain Von Arndt in Tannenberg. Captain Liers's mother in Morgenrot, and the many lovers featured in nearly all war films either in the foreground or the background should not be forgotten. These characters often...

The battles of Lige Tannenberg and the Marne River

The first historical battle to be waged was the one with Belgium at the beginning of August 1914. In the original film, this battle scene was indicated by the intervening caption 'Siegesrauschen', which is lacking in the compilation film. The violation of Belgian sovereign territory, which according to international agreements would stay neutral, is not mentioned. In the film, the conquest of Belgium is confined to the battle of Li ge, one of the towns closest to the German border, circled by...

Cultural historians Eksteins Winter and Mosse

The lack of interest in German war films cannot simply be attributed to the limited number of films that have been preserved. True enough, more than half of them are lost, but those that are still there have hardly been examined. I have defined these films as war films because of the fact that the war plays a prominent role in the narrative, in other words, the characters' actions are in large part determined by the war. 'Documentary' films are films that explicitly take the war as their...

Research into war films film historians

The place of the war in literature, painting, monumental architecture, photography and postcard pictures has often been the subject of research.21 It is therefore all the more remarkable that the German war films from the Weimar period have largely been ignored. The period itself has been studied more often than nearly any other period in German history before the Second World War.22 More than thirty war films were made between 1925 and 1933. While this fact has been observed, it has never been...

Suffering and love in other war films

An extreme picture of reconciliation, this time between the Germans and the Russians, is painted in Volk in Not, a film by the Neff-Droop-Hegewald trio. Nowhere is the aspect of reconciliation as prominent as in this film, a fact that is due to the female protagonist. The film premiered in December 1925, which makes it the earliest war film of the Weimar period with the exception of Namenlose Helden. Incidentally, both films are lost. As indicated by the title, Volk in Not, with the subtitle...

Scapa Flow and the navy rebellion

In 1930, the year in which Somme and Westfront 1918 saw the light of day, the year also in which All quiet on the Western Front caused such a stir, Leo Lasko made the silent film Scapa Flow. Two years earlier, he had taken part in the production of Der Weltkrieg II. Leo Lasko worked both as a director and as a writer of screenplays.64 At first sight, the title of Scapa Flow does not appear to give much cause for controversy. It is the name of the British naval base near the Scottish Orkney...

Siegfried Kracauer

The German critic, essayist and journalist Siegfried Kracauer is one of the best-known experts in the field of Weimar film culture. His standard work, From Caligari to Hitler, written during his American exile shortly after the Second World War, and based on his experience as a film journalist with the Frankfurter Zeitung, is unrivalled in its comprehensiveness and depth. Kracauer saw film as an important symptom of the modern age, an age marked by the all-pervasive influence of metropolitan...

Realism and antiwar tendencies in four films

Films such as Namenlose Helden 1925 , Westfront 1918 1930 , Die andere Seite 1931 and Niemandsland 1931 , like the war documentaries, can be related to New Objectivity. Westfront 1918 especially showed 'striking similarities to the basic doctrine of the New Objectivity', according to Kracauer.2 These four films represent another approach to the war than has been discussed so far. Lacking archival footage, or making only limited use of it - with the exception of Namenlose Helden, which appeared...

Credits Weimar War Films

M music mostly at the premiere seen by the author in the Bundesarchiv Filmarchiv Berlin BAB . The credits are based on the Illustrierter Film-Kurier, censorship reports cr and film journals, in particular Reichfilmblatt Rfb and Kinematograph Kin . Missing credits are due to the fact that the information could not be found in these or other sources. Besides the distribution firms mentioned other company's also distributed these films. 1914. Die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand D Richard Oswald P...

The battles at Verdun and the Somme

While Langemarck, according to Huppauf, was mainly associated with the myth of youth and nationalism, the battles at Verdun and the Somme symbolised the technological war machine and the genesis of new, modern man i.e. the male .70 The battles that took place around fort Douaumont near Verdun and at the Somme were connected in a military and strategic sense, both were fought in 1916 and they partially overlapped. The plan to capture Douaumont, which was considered the strongest fortification in...

The battle of Ypres the myth of Langemarck

Battle Langemarck

The battle of Ypres or Langemarck, as the Germans wished to call it October-November 1914 marked a second tragedy for Germany. In the compilation film, the scene begins with the caption 'Die neu gebildeten Freiwilligen-Korps wurden Mitte Oktober zum entscheidenden Stoss in Flandern eingesetzt', which is followed by a map of Ypres and its surroundings. Next, we see an interesting sequence of constructed images that mark a significant departure from the rest of the film, especially in terms of...

The Uboat films

Die versunkene Flotte and U9 Weddigen Die versunkene Flotte premiered on 8 December 1926 in Berlin, exactly two weeks before Unsere Emden. It was brought into circulation in no less than fifteen Berlin cinemas, showing the kind of enthusiasm that the producers expected the film to generate with the general public.80 Judging from reviews, the screenings were indeed a success. The T gliche Rundschau had serialised the book with the same title on which the film was based in June of the same...

Husbands coming back home Feldgrau and Heimkehr

On 11 November 1918, the armistice was signed, ending the war in strictly military terms. People began to get to terms with the economic, political and social misery into which the country had been plunged. For many people and in an almost literal sense, the war had not yet ended. One of the major problems that many families, relatives, wives and parents experienced was the uncertainty about whether their loved ones were still alive. Jay Winter devotes an entire chapter in his Sites of memory,...

The war scene

The enemy in Westfront 1918 is always portrayed as an anonymous figure. In the fighting scenes, we see him as a group. Sometimes we only hear the enemy, for example when a screaming French soldier is dying a slow and painful death on the barbed wire. While the image of a writhing soldier was cut from Namenlose Helden by the censor, here sound can create the suggestion of the same image - an effect that is sometimes stronger than the actual image itself. In accordance with Gollbach's anti-war...

Bufa and

The year 1917 saw the establishment of the Bild- und Filmamt Bufa on 30 January and the Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft Ufa on 18 December. Bufa became an umbrella organisation for all governmental and military film and press agencies. The production company was supervised by the Foreign Ministry's military section and concentrated on producing documentaries on military action and propaganda feature films.41 During the war, Bufa was responsible for the establishment of hundreds of small...

Fort Douaumont at Verdun

The two sequences devoted to these battles were originally part of Der Weltkrieg II and have also been preserved in the compilation film. The battle of Verdun takes up a sequence of approximately thirteen minutes in the film, with the emphasis on the fighting around fort Douaumont. The battle has been placed in a narrative framework, and it has been filmed from a German perspective. The sequence begins with the preparations for a shelling of enemy positions, then continues with the actual...

Notes to Introduction

Combat and identity in World War I Cambridge, etc. 1981, orig. 1979 x. 2 Please note, the object of study is films that were made after the First World War. For German films made during the First World War, see, among others Karel Dibbets amp Bert Hogenkamp ed. , Film and the First World War Amsterdam 1995 Hans Barkhausen, Filmpropaganda f r Deutschland im Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg Hildesheim, Z rich, New York 1982 however, this is mainly an institutional...

F.w. Boterman Oskar Spengler Und Der Untergang Des Abendlandes Cultuur Pessimist

Pearson, Reframing culture. The case of the Vitagraph quality films Princeton New Jersey 1993 Uricchio, W., 'Die Kulturfilm a brief history of an early discursive practice', in Usai amp Codelli ed. , 1990 356-378 Usai P.C. amp L. Codelli ed. , Before Caligari. German cinema 1895-1920 Prima di Caligari. Cinema tedesco, 1895-1920 Pordenone 1990 Virilio, P., War and cinema. The logistics of perception London, New York 1989 trans. of Guerre et Cin ma logistique de la perception,...

Literary context war literature

New Objectivity is often thought to have reached its high point round about 1929, but Namenlose Helden, Westfront 1918, Die andere Seite and Niemandsland were nevertheless part of this cultural context.4 Perhaps only its tone of voice changed after 1929. While it was an aesthetic practice in principle, realism fulfilled a different function and gained prestige in a time of social, political and especially economic upheaval. According to some commentators, including Michael Gollbach and Modris...

The surface ships

In the period from 1926 to 1933, three films were made about the role of battleships during or shortly after the war Unsere Emden 1926 , Scapa Flow 1930 , and Kreuzer Emden 1932 . For many people, these names had a mythical ring. While the historical ship Emden represented the triumphant advance of the German army at the beginning of the war, Scapa Flow called attention to the honourable defeat of the navy right after the war. These different moments captured on film provide interesting...

Lehrreich und amsant

Historical films in the period 1896-1933 For a long time, the historiography of German cinema, understood as a complex entity of industry, films, audience and criticism, has been oriented mostly towards the years following the First World War. General studies begin with a description of the first German film screenings, only to make a carefree jump across two decades to the 1920s, a period in which film as art was said to have flourished. Gradually, this historical gap is being closed....