The first feature film from a vanquished nation, Wolfgang Staudte's Murderers Are among Us (Mörder sind unter uns, 1946), repeatedly equates the physical destruction of German cities with psychic devastation, suggesting how heavily the past weighed on some, though not all, of the nation's survivors. As the rubble on the streets and the destruction in a returned soldier's mind, material damage and mental wreckage, become intertwined, the compensatory narrative suggests that both have been caused by outside forces. By scrutinizing the prominent role of rubble in the so-called rubble film, this essay historicizes the myths at work in Staudte's famous exercise in this vein and suggests their afterlife in present-day revisitations of the German war experience.

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