case western reserve university



Wer fremde Sprachen nicht kennt, weiss nichts von seiner eigenen.

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Mini-Symposium Program Schedule

Free and open to the public

Both evenings events will be held in

Clark Hall, Room 309

11130 Bellflower Road, Cleveland

Visitor Parking: metered parking along Bellflower Road, metered lot on corner of Ford and Euclid and Visitor Central Garage located under Severance Hall, entrance on East Blvd.

MONDAY, April 4th

Film Screenings (German originals with English subtitles for both films)

Refreshments will be served

4:30 pm

2 or 3 Things I Know about Him (2 oder 3 Dinge, die ich von ihm weiß) (Ludin, 2005; 85 minutes)

In this documentary, German director Malte Ludin examines the impact of Nazism in his family. Malte's father, Hanns Ludin, was the ambassador to Slovakia during the Third Reich. He signed deportation orders that sent thousands of Jews to Auschwitz. Hanns Ludin was executed for war crimes in 1947.

7:00 pm

Last to Know
(Jeder schweigt von etwas anderem) (Bauder und Franke, 2006; 72 minutes)

This intense and very moving documentary features 4– out of approximately 250,000 – former political prisoners in East Germany. Nearly 20 years after the fall of the Wall, it is still difficult to answer the questions of their children and friends and come to terms with a very personal and painful past. This film has been called the "documentary counterpart to The Lives of Others"

Tuesday, April 5

4:30: reception
5:00-7:00 Talks and Discussion

Susanne Luhmann, University of Alberta

check back for talk details


Elke Heckner, UC Berkeley

"The New Televisuality of German Suffering                            (Dresden, March of Millions, and Die Gustoff)"

In the latest effort to reclaim the German experience of displacement and bombardment at the end of the Nazi period, the Blockbuster TV docudramas Dresden (2006), March of Millions (2007) and Die Gustloff (2008) have articulated new rules of public engagement with the tainted war experience of German civilians at the end of WW II. Most notably, the docudramas break with a cinematography infused by the guilt-and-shame paradigm, as exemplified by Wisbar’s 1959 anti-war film Darkness fell on Gotenhafen.  To the dismay of some critics, Dresden, March of Millions and Die Gustloff have even restored cinematic pleasure by savoring the drama intrinsic to these tainted histories, channeling it into the genre of event-TV. They can afford to do so, it seems, because their directors, especially Roland Suso Richter and Kai Wessel, pledged to tackle this controversial history through a non-revisionist lens. However, critics remained skeptical of whether the new televisuality of German trauma has much to contribute to a critical rethinking of these highly charged chapters in public memory. At issue is, predictably, whether this televisuality effectively parts with the various mythologies of German victimhood claimed by revisionist discourses of the expellee generation and the political right wing.

Laurel Cohen-Pfister, Gettysburg College

What Will Be Remembered? Stasi Victoms in Germany Memory Culture: Jeder schweigt von etwas anderem (Last To Know, 2006)

What remains of Stasi victim memory in Germany today? This question drives Laurel Cohen-Pfister's examination of the 2006 documentary Jeder schweigt von etwas anderem (Last to Know). Labeled the documentary counterpart to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Other, 2006), the film probes the after-effects of political imprisonment in the GDR on its protagonists Anne Gollin, Utz Rachowski, and the Tine and Matthias Storck and the silence across three generations that surrounds the victims' experience. Their narratives reflect memory challenges facing Stasi victim biographies. They reveal in their very particularity much about contemporary German memory culture and what is considered important, relevant, and usable for a post-Wende German identity. The focus on familial memory of Stasi victim crimes addresses the difficulty in transferring contested memory in a unified Germany when East German biographies meet in the West with general disinterest, and in the East, in the particular case of Stasi victims, withincreasing resistance as ostalgicsentiments gain ground.

Laurel Cohen-Pfister, Associate Professor of German at Gettysburg College, writes on  memory politics in contemporary German culture. Her articles on the reevaluation of Germanwartime suffering, women and war, generational perspectives on the past, and the memory culture of eastern Germany have appeared in journals and anthologies such as The Forum for Modern Languages, The Germanic Review, and German Literature in a New Century: Trends, Traditions, Transformations, Transitions (2008). She is co-editor of the volumes Generational Shifts in Contemporary German Literature (with Susanne Vees-Gulani, 2010), and Victims and Perpetrators: 1933-1945 and Beyond. (Re)Presenting the Past in Post-Unification Culture (with Dagmar Wienroeder-Skinner, 2006). 







About the symposium:

The current wave of German films dealing with the Nazi past and the German Second World War experience, as well as the crimes committed against citizens by the East German state via the Stasi brings the discussions about German history and identity into the 21st century. The films aim at answering general familial and societal questions – how do we remember family members that committed crimes, how those that were victims?, Can we always distinguish clearly between perpetrators and victims?, What do and what should older generations communicate to younger generations?, How important is the past for present identity?, In how far is societal memory different from personal memory?, What can and cannot be publicly commemorated? Two documentary film screenings and three talks by leading German studies scholars will help us understand the new attitudes to the past and the role film plays in explaining them.