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Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter: War, Genocide and “Condensed Reality”

David Wildermuth

By most accounts, the March 2013 television event Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (UMUV) marks an important milestone in the evolving cinematic treatment of the Third Reich, World War II, and the Holocaust. Winner of the Goldene Kamera for best television film of 2013, UMUV could boast such positive reviews and sensational viewer ratings as few other television films in the almost seventy-year existence of the Federal Republic. Frank Schirrmacher, co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, credited the film with ushering in “a new phase of the cinematic-historic treatment of National Socialism,” specifically praising Nico Hofmann, the film’s producer, for his “seriousness, attention to detail, and uncompromising” approach to the film. The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised it as “epochal” and “awaking the war in its entire monstrosity.” Der Spiegel lauded the film as “a new milepost of German cultural remembrance,” for posing “the most important [entscheidende] question for those born after: “how would I have acted?” Even Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, weighed in on the film, praising the film’s emphasis on the subjective perspectives of the protagonists. His argument for the innate power of the cinematic medium over the written word was echoed by screenwriter Stefan Kolditz, who asserted that the film—like all films—represents, “condensed reality.”

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