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An Interview with Alice Schwarzer on Leni Riefenstahl

Henriette Löwisch

Alice Schwarzer’s name is synonymous with the second-wave women’s

movement in West Germany, and when she picks a fight, the odds are a

shouting match will follow. Admired by some, reviled by others, West Germany’s

best-known feminist has often used controversy to amplify the

activist journalism she has pursued since the late 1960s. She is opinionated,

combative, and unpredictable—attributes all reflected in her 1999 essay on

Leni Riefenstahl, which the interview below revisits. Her sympathetic portrayal

of the filmmaker met with criticism, which is certainly consistent with

the affinity toward ambivalence Schwarzer has demonstrated throughout

her career as an author, activist and talk show celebrity.

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