“Schattmann” and the Representation of Jewish Experience in the Cinema of the GDR

Film marathon and book presentation with Lisa Schoß and Knut Elstermann (in German)

Black and white image shows two people in winter clothes, each pressing a black office bag against their body.

Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann (1): Der Freitagabend. 1972 (The pictures of the witness Schattmann (1): Friday evening. 1972)

As part of the Jewish Film Festival Berlin | Brandenburg (JFBB), the JMB will screen the entire four-part television film Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann (The Pictures of the Witness Schattmann) from 1971/1972, and present Lisa Schoß’s book Von verschiedenen Standpunkten. Die Darstellung jüdischer Erfahrung im Film der DDR (From Different Perspectives. The Representation of Jewish Experience in the Cinema of the GDR). This event is a preview of the exhibition Another Country. Jewish in the GDR, which will open at the JMB in September 2023.

Past event

Map with all buildings that belong to the Jewish Museum Berlin. The W. M. Blumenthal Academy is marked in green

Where

W. M. Blumenthal Academy
Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin
Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

The Television Film

Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann, GDR 1971/1972, TV series, Director: Kurt Jung Alsen

The four-part television film Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by writer, painter and Auschwitz survivor Peter Edel. Alternating between different time periods, it tells the story of Frank Schattmann and his family – of the German-Jewish Berlin milieu, of experiencing discrimination and persecution, of politicization and resistance, torture, deportations, the concentration and extermination camps, of liberation and return, of the post-war years and life after surviving.

It is framed by the Globke trial (Globke was Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery under Adenauer), which the judiciary of the GDR conducted in absentia in 1963. The film is both extraordinary and characteristic of the GDR in its tension between ideological references and the very personal story of a survivor of the Shoah. Every time the US series Holocaust was aired on West German television, it was deliberately countered on GDR television with Schattmann – unlike in the FRG, no “help” was needed.

The Book

Lisa Schoß: Von verschiedenen Standpunkten. Die Darstellung jüdischer Erfahrung im Film der DDR (From Different Perspectives. The Representation of Jewish Experience in the Cinema of the GDR)

In retrospect, historians have attested that the GDR's greatest liability was its failure to come to terms with the Shoah – although, or perhaps precisely because, anti-fascism was its leading political discourse. In fact, until 1989, it was possible to talk about fascism and anti-fascism while simultaneously remaining silent about the crimes committed against the Jewish population (and other minorities). At the same time, a complex reckoning with Germany's crimes can be discerned in the art and culture of the GDR, including a multifaceted representation of Jewish experiences.

Lisa Schoß analyzes these experiences and in doing so, casts light on actors both in front of and behind the camera. For it was they who, using their own experiences and often in conflict with political ideology, added Jewish perspectives to the discourse on anti-fascism.

Blue and black book cover with black and white photo

Book cover of Lisa Schoß: Von verschiedenen Standpunkten. Die Darstellung jüdischer Erfahrung im Film der DDR (From Different Perspectives. The Representation of Jewish Experience in the Cinema of the GDR); Verlag Bertz + Fischer

The Author

Lisa Schoß is a literary and cultural academic whose research is at the interface of Jewish studies and contemporary visual history. In 2020, she obtained her doctorate on the representation of Jewish experiences in DEFA feature films and GDR television productions. She works in partnership with the Selma Stern Center for Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg as well as freelance.

In cooperation with the Jewish Film Festival Berlin | Brandenburg (JFBB) and the DEFA Foundation.

Black and white photo of woman with half-length straight hair looking friendly into camera.

Lisa Schoß, photo: privat

2–
3.30 pm
film: Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann, Part 1 Der Freitagabend
(Friday Evening) (78 mins)
3.30–
4.30 pm
book presentation: Lisa Schoß in conversation with Knut Elstermann
5–
6.35 pm
film: Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann, Part 2 Der Entschluss
(The Decision) (92 mins)
6.45–
8 pm
film: Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann, Part 3 Die Wiederkehr
(The Return) (72 mins)
8.10 –
9.40 pm
film: Die Bilder des Zeugen Schattmann, Part 4: Die Vorladung
(The Summons) (87 mins)
A man with a gray shirt and a dark sweater looks friendly into the camera.

Knut Elstermann, photo: Jochen Saupe

ellow-pink-green graphic with leaves and flying birds.

Cultural Summer at the Jewish Museum Berlin

Cultural Summer 2024: 14 Jul to 24 Aug 2024
Events
Jazz in the Garden mit Noëmi Waysfeld – 28 Jul 2024
Jazz in the Garden mit Udi Shlomo – 11 Aug 2024
Berlin Secrets – Let’s Talk about Sex! The Long Night of Museums 2024 – 24 Aug 2024
Digital Content
Cultural Summer 2022: Video recording
Cultural Summer 2021: Video recordings
Cultural Summer 2017: Audio and video recordings

Where, when, what?

  • WhenSun 18 Jun 2023, 2 pm
  • Where W. M. Blumenthal Academy
    Fromet-und-Moses-Mendelssohn-Platz 1, 10969 Berlin Postal address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
    See location on map
  • Entry fee

    8 €, reduced rate 5 €; ticket is valid for the entire event

  • Language German

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