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A Past Misremembered? Depictions of Jewish Persecution under National Socialism in East German Cinema

Ward, Elizabeth Margaret (2014) A Past Misremembered? Depictions of Jewish Persecution under National Socialism in East German Cinema. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Throughout its existence, East Germany’s ruling Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) never officially acknowledged any direct or inherited responsibility for the crimes committed on its territory between 1933 and 1945, instead choosing to recast itself as both victim and victor of fascist oppression through the foregrounding of political persecution. This interpretative framework undoubtedly resulted in the marginalisation of the fate of Jews under National Socialism in East German historiography and memories of the past. However, by focusing on East German cinematic engagements with National Socialist racial persecution, I seek to challenge the assertion that films depicting Jewish victimhood were unwelcome or even taboo in the German Democratic Republic. By combining close readings of five films – 'Ehe im Schatten' (Maetzig, 1947), 'Sterne' (Wolf, 1959), 'Lebende Ware' (Luderer, 1966), 'Jakob der Lügner' (Beyer, 1974) and 'Die Schauspielerin' (Kühn, 1988) – with an analysis of the films’ production files, I unravel the complex status of films dealing with Jewish persecution produced in a country which consistently privileged narratives of political persecution above racial victimhood.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: German Democratic Republic East Germany Cinema Film DEFA Holocaust
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds) > German (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ms E M Ward
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 08:07
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2015 12:31
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9060

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