“Geschichtspornografie” im ZDF: “Ein bisschen Nazi spielen”

Mit einer internationalen Konferenz greifen die Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb, das Holocaust Research Centre at Royal Holloway, University of London sowie das Kulturwissenschaftliche Institut Essen neueste Erkenntnisse der “Täterforschung im globalen Kontext” auf. Vom 27. bis 29. Januar 2009 diskutieren Wissenschaftler aus mehreren Staaten über die Täterforschung.

Unter anderem wurde auch die fehlende Darstellung der Täter in den deutschen Medien nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg thematisiert. Dazu sagte Wulf Kansteiner von der State University of New York at Binghampton, „the non-existence of perpetrator history on German TV was one of the preconditions for the success of the ZDF division for contemporary history. In the 1990s, Knopp and his associates started to fill the void by pursuing concepts of Nazi history and Nazi crimes that had had a long tradition in other realms of German historical culture. These concepts had often been alluded to on TV but never been developed in detail by ARD and ZDF, especially not in prime time.

However, as Knopp and Co. started to visualize conventional perceptions of Hitler and his henchmen as the primary perpetrators of war and genocide, they relied extensively on visual documents crafted by the Nazis themselves. The films and photos would be digitally remastered and integrated into slick, fast cut sequences of eyewitness testimony, animation, and restaged historical scenes. The resulting documentaries filled a long-existing gap in Germany’s visual culture and gave ZDF an edge in the competition with increasingly successful commercial TV networks.

But the films accomplished a lot more. By combining explicit, politically correct anti-Nazi messages with much more ambivalent visual products celebrating Nazi power, Knopp and Co. invited their viewers on an unprecedented ride. The ZDF audience was offered a chance to play Nazi while remaining (safely?) grounded in Germany’s mainstream, anti-totalitarian historical culture.

Opfer und Täter werden gleichgestellt

Die „ZDF media revolution had some problematic consequences for the representation of ordinary perpetrators“, betonte Kansteiner, der in diesem Zusammenhang von „Geschichtspornografie“ sprach. „Part of Knopp’s innovation consisted of a shift in emphasis from addressing traditional historiographical problems – why did the Nazi catastrophe happened – to pursuing much more emotionally driven questions – how did it feel to experience the Nazi era, how did it feel to be a victim or a perpetrator. That shift required evocative editing techniques which, among many other consequences, put a premium on the emotional, not the historiographical content of eyewitness testimony. One of the highlights of Holokaust, for instance, is the testimony of a perpetrator who starts crying in front of the camera while sharing with the viewers the nonsensical insight that the killings might have stopped if he had informed his superiors.21 The producers did not see any need to correct him and thus both perpetrators and survivors appear as victims of history and equally deserving of our empathy.

Paper des Referenten: „Visual Wunderjahre: German Television and the Disappearance of the Nazi Perpetrators“

Siehe auch: Täterforschung im globalen Kontext: Blick auf moralische Umformatierung richten