hide-out. One of the officers is someone Sonja knows. She manages to persuade him to stop the search for the fugitive. As the battle continues, the number of Russian wounded nursed in the manor also increases. In addition, a group of Russian officers occupy the manor and use it as base. When the going gets tough, the Russian wounded need to be transported elsewhere. Sonja now decides to take the side of her former homeland, which does not imply that she takes a stand against her German blood relatives, and she moves along with them.

Von Arndt receives the message that his manor is now a Russian battle post and he sends Fritz to the manor with a missive. The people there will have to prepare for an attack. The young messenger narrowly escapes the Russians. Inside the manor, the people seek shelter in the basement. When Fritz runs after his escaped little dog during the battle, he is hit by a grenade. Von Arndt is mortally wounded, too. But, parallel to the general situation at the front, it does not take long before the Russians at the estate surrender, and it is returned to the Germans.

Basically, both storylines have similar structures, although the contents and cinematography differ substantially.128 At the same time, they balance one another. The historical story adds context to the fictional story and the relatively boring context story is perked up by introducing the suspense elements of the fictional story (spy, Fritz as a messenger, battle) and the drama (the wounded, Sonja's dilemma, the deaths of Fritz and Von Arndt). Samsonov's (suggested) suicide is the only element that may give the historical story some dramatic tension for a moment. Thus, both storylines together combine the emotional and the historic. The latter is also supported and explained extensively with pictures of maps indicating where the armies are at particular moments.129 This is also the only part in which documentary shots are shown.

Both stories constantly refer to one another. First we see the effects of the military policy on the population and how radically life changes for everyone, men and women, young and old. According to the critic of Germania the role of the young Fritz would make schoolchildren appreciate the film too.130 The events at the Von Arndt manor - particularly the coming and going of refugees and the Russian soldiers, wounded or not - reflected the general state of affairs at the front. More astutely than the historical story, this story shows the sacrifices the German people made. In fact, no fewer than two of the protagonists lose their lives in the battle. This is in sharp contrast with the losses suffered at the 'great' front. There, the number of German victims is relatively small compared to the number of Russians killed in action.131 Historical footage or reconstructed images of German victims are also exceedingly sparse in the film. By having victims primarily dominate the fictional story and having victors primarily dominate the historical story, both the sacrificial death and the victory are highlighted. This also relieved the makers of their 'task' to show too painfully realistic shots of 'real' Germans killed in action, which would not fit a victory chronicle like Tannenberg either.

The historical story is the dominant framework and the key thrust of the film. Not until the situation at the army command has been explained does the film show shots of the situation in and around the manor - time and again. The absolute durations of both stories also differ. Roughly, the duration ratio of the historical story to the fictional story is 3:2.132 This does not alter the fact that there is stronger emotional involvement in the fictional story than in the factional historical approach of the other story.

There is relatively little archival footage in the film and what archival footage there is, is shown exclusively in the historical story. Because of the sometimes big differences in image quality, they are easily recognisable as such for the viewer, particularly the images of advancing troops, reconnaissance airplanes, withdrawing German troops, ravaged villages and masses of Russian prisoners of war.

Another aspect of the film is the way in which the German and Russian parties have been pictured, this in connection with the question how the makers solved 'the Hindenburg problem' after the intervention of the censors. The presentations of the German and the Russian army commanders have been marked off accurately in the film by distinctive separate sequences which have a duration ratio of broadly 2:1. The Russian army commanders move around mainly within one space, a richly decorated ground-floor room in a manor where the official staff meetings are held.133 Contrary to the German party, we never see the Russian staff operate at the front line. This gives the impression that the German army commanders are more involved in the battle and consequently have a better grip on the situation. The latter particularly appears from the number of scenes in which we see how high-ranking officers observe the situation from a hill top with field-glasses and ordnance survey maps as if it were a 17th or 18th century battle scene. The German officers also display a wider variety of activities. A few elements have been added to the normal meeting that is similar to that of the Russians: a dinner, studying the ordnance survey maps and observing the battle scenes. Although they are always serious, this makes the Germans look relaxed. Despite their limited mobility, the Russians are also depicted as being 'in control'. With regard to the army commanders, the picture is in no way biased in the sense that it is anti-Russian. Also, the scene in which Samsonov's suicide is suggested has been filmed in a subdued way and without any sensation. The same attitude can be seen in the fictional scenes in which the Russians attack Von Arndt's manor and in the shots of the Russian front line activities.

Only one scene puts the Russians in a less favourable light.134 In its wooden condescending approach it strongly recalls the scene from Douaumont in which a bunch of sullen French soldiers are treated by the Germans with superior goodwill, once the fort has been attacked. In the corresponding scene in Tannenberg it involves the bravura that three low-ranking Russian officers show when they order a German publican to open up his pub and force him, after they have finished their meal and drunk vodka, to accept rubles from them:

Seht es Euch gut an, Alter, das wird jetzt Eure neue Währung. Überall gehen jetzt die deutschen Truppen zurück, nicht nur vor Rennenkampf. Verlass dich darauf, unser General Samsonow wird jetzt den Deutschen bald den Garaus machen.135

This scene also shows a shot in which a Russian announcement is stuck over the German mobilisation order, again as a mark of the Russian occupation. It occurs just before Paul von Hindenburg appears on the scene. It is in this scene that the viewer - after a shot of his photographic image - catches a glimpse of his live appearance, be it only from the back. The second time he clearly appears in the picture is in the scene in which general Hoffmann explains the strategic situation to Von Hindenburg and Ludendorff who are both taciturn. Finally, Von Hindenburg appears for the last time in a scene in which he follows the course of the battle from the 'Feldherrnhügel'. In all other cases an actor without dialogue is shown whose activities are highly limited. The historical Von Hindenburg is only shown on a photograph and, in the last scene, through a signature under a letter in which he announces the victory. Consequently, he has not disappeared entirely from the film, but his appearance is minimised. However, he does not speak at all. As a result, all the attention is focused on the other generals, like Ludendorff, Hoffmann, Grünert, Waldersee, Fleischmann Von Theissrück, Von Scholtz and Hell, who are shown prominently.

The fact that Von Hindenburg only features in the film minimally does not mean that he was 'obliterated' from the story - to the contrary. First of all, his name is inextricably bound up with this battle, no matter how limited the number of scenes is in which he appears. Secondly, the publicity around the problems with the censorship have forever appended his name to this film. Thirdly, his image is prominently pictured on the front page of the programme. And fourthly, he may be rarely featured in person in the picture, he does feature in two scenes through various letter texts. Basically, Von Hindenburg was primarily referred to. His 'indirect appearances' only increased the distance to his actual human figure. The film, therefore, certainly contributed to the mythologising of this war hero.

During the period preceding the release of the Tannenberg film, people reacted negatively to Von Hindenburg being played by an actor. Because of the intervention of the censors, this footage has disappeared almost completely. What is left, are only some pictures of Von Hindenburg himself; he had just been re-elected state president for the second time. The fact that it was disallowed to have Von Hindenburg played by an actor most likely had to do with the myth that had been built around this character, a myth that referred back directly to Tannenberg. The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, the voice of the world of the rich, the anti-republicans and Foreign Affairs, explicitly connected the film to this myth. The reviewer of this newspaper also presented an interesting theory on the meaning of historical myths in general:

... ein Mythos [the myth of Tannenberg, BK] hätte zerstört werden können. Jeder Mythos ist Ergebnis der Gefühlsgeschichtsschreibung eines Volkes, mit der es, unabhängig von Daten, Tatsachen und Armeestärken, die historische Wahrheit ans Licht hebt und - sagen wir es ruhig so - sie als Heiligtum der Sage unangreifbar bewahrt.136

Slightly further on in the article, the author adds to his theory:

Der Mythos eines Volkes irrt sich niemals. Und so trifft er auch hier [in the film, BK] mit gleichsam geschlossenen Augen das Richtige, was nachdenkliche, mühsamforschende, exakte Geschichtsschreibung erst beweisen muss...137

What still had to be proved was that Von Hindenburg and Ludendorff stood as a 'vereinigte Persönlichkeit' at the base of the battle. The author compares it to the Battle of Verdun, a battle that is not associated with, for instance, Von Falkenhayn but with the soldiers themselves. Verdun is simply referred to as 'Die Schlacht'. In the case of Tannenberg, on the other hand, victory, the liberation of East Prussia, the giant war booty and the great performance of the German army are not first and foremost, 'sondern der wertende Blick der gläubigen Begeisterung und Dankbarkeit trifft bei dieser Schlacht, wie sonst kaum je, die führenden Persönlichkeiten: Hindenburg und Ludendorff.'138

For the author, these basic elements are the criteria for his criticism. In other words: did the film succeed in representing the Battle of Tannenberg as a 'Sieg der Persönlichkeiten'?139 The answer is: partly. Not, however, because Von Hindenburg was hardly present as a person; the author actually thought that this was justified.

Denn nicht die Tatsache, dass Hindenburg heute Staatsoberhaupt ist, sollte Anlass zu der Vermeidung der Verfilmerei seiner Persönlichkeit gewesen sein, sondern seine historische Rolle als Feldherr von Tannenberg verpflichtet zu dieser Unter-lassung.140

Consequently, the author is surprised about the fact that Ludendorff is played by an actor, which embarrasses him highly. That is why he advocates a law'... zum Schutze des Mythos eines Volkes'.141

Such a theory on the role and the function of myths certainly was not new and, within a German context, can be traced back for instance to the ideas of Wagner, who also was of the opinion that the myth was a positive opposite of history and a better vehicle to tell the truth. The reason for this was, as the quoted author also indicates, the role of the irrational and the instinctive in the myth. In this way, the myth would gain direct access to the subconscious of the viewer.142 When applied to documentaries, this would mean that the essence of war would only be represented correctly when the films would appeal to emotion and the irrational. Not the facts mattered, but the 'Gefuhls-Geschichtsschreibung eines Volkes', i.e. the myth. Viewed from this perspective, war films could well be an expression of this paradox of fact and myth. Perhaps this mythical argument plays a part in the assessments of war films, too, along with the political-ideological argument, since these films, in themselves, are almost always dualistic - never entirely negative or positive.

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