By Sander L. Gilman (auth.)
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Extra resources for Jewish Frontiers: Essays on Bodies, Histories, and Identities
To get news about the world outside and inside, he watched and listened only to Western TV and radio.
The idea of such a ﬁlm being written by a Jew—for in the GDR, as Becker and his father were officially designated “victims of fascism”—had speciﬁc positive (and therefore potentially exploitative) implications. One had social advantages, a pension, and visible status in the society of the GDR, a sort of affirmative action for survivors, but one was also perpetually labeled as the victim. In early feature ﬁlms in the GDR, there had been a few exceptions to the rule that one did not represent the “victims of fascism” but rather the heroes of socialism.
Here, Max Becker’s demand for a tale about a heroic Jew is of importance: ﬁrst, the desire to tell the story for the Jews, but especially to tell that story within the traditional heroic role that the Jews were rarely if ever cast after the war. Victims were not heroes. And the tales of Jewish heroism, as in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, were only marginally part of the narrative of state socialism. The contrast was somber, heroic, and serious. Nazis, as in the communist writer Bodo Uhse’s Lieutenant Bertram (1943), one of the classic antifascist novels read in the GDR, could be the stuff of satire in the GDR, but neither the victims nor the defenders of freedom and state socialism could be represented in this manner.
Jewish Frontiers: Essays on Bodies, Histories, and Identities by Sander L. Gilman (auth.)