- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Two years after shocking revelations about the secret Nazi past of Berlin International Film Festival founder Alfred Bauer, the Berlinale will publish the findings of an independent study on Bauer the festival commissioned with the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ).
The Berlinale will also hold a public panel discussion on the study and its revelations Nov. 2 in Berlin.
Bauer helped found the Berlin festival, one of the world’s top-tier film events, and was director of the Berlinale from 1951 to 1976. But in 2020, just ahead of the Berlinale’s 70th anniversary, German newspaper Die Zeit published revelations about Bauer that indicated he had lied about his deep involvement in Nazi film propaganda.
As part of the Reichsfilmintendanz, the division set up by Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to promote the Nazis’ racist and anti-Semitic agenda, Bauer approved such films as Veit Harlan’s Kolberg (1945), a war drama meant to encourage the German population to fight the Allies to the last man. A Nazi file on Bauer from the time calls him a “devoted” member of the SA, the Nazi Party’s original paramilitary wing.
Following the revelations, the Berlinale dropped Bauer’s name from its Alfred Bauer Prize for cinematic innovation, replacing it with a new, neutrally named Silver Bear honor. It also commissioned the IfZ study, which published its preliminary findings in September 2020.
The full IfZ report concludes that Bauer was not an opponent of the Nazi regime, as he had claimed, but that he, to the contrary, contributed to the stabilization and the legitimacy of Hitler’s government through his role in official propaganda.
“In light of the new findings, the Berlinale management asked itself how the view of the founding years of the Berlinale has been altered as a result, but also whether Bauer’s Nazi involvement had an impact on the design of the festival,” the Berlinale said in a statement Friday. “The Bauer case is one of the research gaps in the historical processing of the post-war film industry.”
The full study, titled “Showcases in the Cold War. New Research on the History of the Berlinale in the Alfred Bauer era (1951–1976),” found that Bauer held “a significant position” in the Nazi propaganda machine and that he was able to conceal this involvement to continue his career in post-WW2 Germany. But, the report concludes, Bauer’s involvement with the Berlinale “did not lead to a Nazi ideological characterization of the festival program.”
In a statement, Berlinale festival co-directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said the report shone a new light on the festival’s past. “This confirms once again how essential it is to keep critically reflecting on one’s own history.”
The Berlinale and the IfZ will present their findings and hold a public panel discussion on the report Nov. 2 at 6:30 pm at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) in Berlin.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day