Murderers Among Us (Die Mordor Sind Unter Uns) - What an Appropriate Movie Title
Die Mordor Sind Unter Uns by Wolfgang Staudte
This is an original draft by David Mayes. Not meant for citation.
Thinking of movies such as Murderers Among Us in modern day America provides an American with a justified hatred of the World War II Germans. This hatred is stymied by the presentation of a German soldier who suffers post-war depression and constantly wishes he could have prevented the killings of so many innocent people. A German, from 1946, presented with this same film may have many of the same feelings of hatred as a modern American, but a select few may feel a sense of betrayal or unjust condemnation.
To picture oneself as a 1946 German citizen, one must decide if they are a German who was loyal to Hitler and the Nazi regime or one who is filled with regret and cannot stand the thought of what happened at the hands of their own countrymen. These two types of people would have a completely different view point. The loyalist group may feel hatred towards the movie and its director because they may believe their people are being shown in an undeserved negative light. The people who believe that their countrymen committed atrocities may support the film and hope that it shows the two sides of the German people and soldiers.
The loyalist group would most definitely be a blind follower of the Nazi regime and would believe that every action that occurred during wartime was just and necessary to cleanse the world and to create a superior race of citizens. Murderers Among Us make it clear that the German soldiers acted wrongly and that the soldiers should be ashamed for what they did. Of course the loyalist people may not like this viewpoint and may wish the film did not exist.
The other group of Germans may feel as if such a film shows that a general stereotype is not useful when dealing with any group of people. This group of Germans may all be Germans, even proud Germans, but that does not mean they supported every single action that the German army took part in. A film like Murderers Among Us provides that split by showing the group of people who believed nothing was wrong by providing a character who went on with his daily life as if he had committed no wrongs, in Commander Ferdinand Brueckner, while also presenting the side of the people who either served in the Nazi regimes and have to live with daily nightmares and regret or those who simply did not believe the actions were correct, in Doctor Hans Mertens.
Being a modern day American brings different feelings to the table though. As an American, one will remain upset and hatred will always remain towards all who were involved in the senseless mutilation and execution of an entire race of people. As a modern person, one has forgotten some of the emotion and may feel distanced from the situation because the action seems more like a nightmare, horror film, or fairy tale gone wrong instead of a tale of an important era in history.
It is a well-known fact that the American army eventually opposed the German army; this causes an immediate dislike of the enemy’s people. The Americans may joke about stereotypes that are given to the ‘Jew hating Germans’ but it has been said that stereotypes are based on fact, which gives a bad name to any person who may be German or of German descent. A film like this may have just brought the Americans hatred back to the front of their mind. The American person may also be softened by a film of this caliber because, as said before, Murderers Among Us presents the side not explored by any American made books or movies. This side shows how volumes of the Germans were truly sorry for what had happened and are full of regret for all the number of orders they may have felt compelled to follow.
The role of a modern person may make the feelings towards this movie even more different from those of a 1946 German person. As a modern being living in the twenty-first century the 1940’s seem like such a distant place and time with such foreign people and thoughts. The amount of time that has passed from then and now has created an emotional chasm between the holocaust and modernists. While there are still many people who are affected by the events of the holocaust it is not as fresh in the public’s memory as it was in 1946. For this reason, it is easy to see how different responses would be for each person.
For a person living in 1946, the Holocaust was fresh in their memory and the pain was still felt by a majority of the world. There were numerous loyalist and even more commanders who went on living life after the war, as if nothing happened, believing they were justified in their wartime actions. There were others who thought German people were not all the same and wanted to prove it. Being a modern day American creates an entirely different response to such a movie as this. This may be because the time difference and the lack of memories from the time period.
Die Mordor Sind Unter Uns. Wolfgang Staudte. Film.
Fehrenbach, Heide. Cinema in Democratizing Germany: Reconstructing National Identity After Hitler. 1995. University of North Carolina Press.
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