Film Screening The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns) (1946), dir. Wolfgang Staudte

The Murderers Are Among Us © DEFA © DEFA

Thu, 01/30/2020

Goethe-Institut Washington @ The Liz

1377 R St. NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20009

The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns)
Written and directed by Wolfgang Staudte.
90 min. 1946, pre-GDR East Germany, in German with English subtitles.


1945: Berlin - a city in ruins. Susanne Wallner returns home after surviving imprisonment in a concentration camp. She walks back into her old apartment, only to find that it's now occupied by Dr. Mertens, a military surgeon. Susanne and Dr. Mertens must share the apartment. Meanwhile, Mertens encounters Brückner, his former captain, whom he believed to be dead. Brückner, who had ordered the shooting of more than 100 civilians during the war, is now a successful businessman. Mertens is determined to take justice into his own hands - Susanne, however, believes a war criminal of such great magnitude must be brought to justice in a court of law, not as a private matter of vigilantism.

The Murderers Are Among Us was the first film shot in Germany after the end of World War II. It was the first Trümmerfilm - a term encompassing a film subgenre in which rubble-laden cities after the war were prominently featured. It was also first film to address concepts of Denazification (Entnazifizierung) and Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past), both of which were - and continue to be - discourses approaching the topic of Germany taking responsibility for World War II and the Holocaust.

There will be an introduction before the film and a discussion after the film.
RSVP Wolfgang Staudte was born October 9, 1906, in Saarbrücken. Starting in 1926, he appeared as an actor onstage in various theaters throughout Berlin. In 1933, however, his permission for stage-acting was revoked, so he began making short films, working as a sound-dubbing artist, announcing for radio, and working small jobs in film. By 1941 he had directed his first studio short film, Ins Grab kann man nichts mitnehmen (You Can't Take Anything to the Grave With You), and in 1942 his feature film debut Akrobat Schö-ö-ön premiered. After World War II, he worked for DEFA, shooting Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers Are Among Us). The East German film studio accepted his script, although in the West it was rejected. Staudte continued to work in television and film until his death in 1984.

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