Reflecting on the Present Burdened by the Past: German-Polish Relations in Robert Thalheim's Film Am Ende kommen Touristen (2007)

in German Politics and Society
Author: Meghan O'Dea
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This article discusses the portrayal of German-Polish relations in Robert Thalheim's 2007 film Am Ende kommen Touristen. Situated within present day Oświęcim, Poland—more commonly known as Auschwitz, the historical site of Nazi perpetration—Touristen shifts viewer attention toward contemporary concerns surrounding historical memories of Auschwitz and the present day transnational encounters at the memorial site. This article discusses memory constellations as well as the intercultural and intergenerational issues depicted in the film. By showing how the past still continues to affect contemporary relationships between Germans and Poles, the film calls for continued engagement and dialogue to work through the shared past in the European present. This article furthermore discusses the status of Touristen as a “third wave” Holocaust film that distances itself from cinematic, historical reconstruction on a visual and narrative level by rather focusing attention on the pieces of the past that continue to affect contemporary German-Polish relationships.