In the latest effort to publicly reclaim the German experience of displacement and bombardment toward the end of the Nazi period, the TV docudramas Dresden (2006), March of Millions (2007), and Die Gustloff (2008) have articulated a new set of rules of cinematic engagement for the tainted war experience of German civilians. This article explores the tensions between the new televisuality of German suffering and the persisting charge of revisionism leveled by some journalists and scholars at the blockbuster TV docudramas. Drawing on Aleida Assmann's deconstruction of the seemingly irreconcilable opposition between invocations of German wartime suffering and expiation of war guilt, the article shows that these charges do not account for the new frameworks of filmic representation, which specifically challenge the revisionist legacy. By examining the possibilities and limits of this televisuality for critical approaches to history and film, the article argues that the docudramas are engaged in rewriting the old generational contract, which until recently was tacitly bound by the guilt-and-shame paradigm, and in creating democratic mythologies and the ethos of reconciliation.
Elke Heckner; Televising Tainted History: Recent TV Docudrama (Dresden, March of Millions, Die Gustloff) and the Charge of Revisionism. New German Critique 1 February 2011; 38 (1 (112)): 65–84. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2010-023
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