Germany’s dark history sets it apart from its neighbors, but in more recent years Germany has also become famous for confronting its history with honesty in art and culture. The following three films are excellent examples of German films made about some of the dark moments in its national history. We recommend them to both our German students and to anyone interested in Germany’s history.
The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte)
Michael Haneke (2009, Germany), Amazon
A subtle and eerie look at the tensions beneath the surface in a small, ordinary German town before World War I. A series of small but escalating acts of violence take place, and it seems that the town’s children know more than they are saying. Michael Haneke, the director, has said the film “is about the roots of evil.”
Downfall (Der Untergang)
Oliver Hirschbiegel (2004, Germany), Netflix
A meticulous re-creation of the last days of the Nazi regime from inside Hitler’s bunker. An unsettling look into the mind of Hitler and those closest to him as they realized that the end had come for them.
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Der Baader Meinhof Komplex)
Uli Edel (2008, Germany), Amazon
Based on the true story of a group of young Germans who rebelled against their country in the 1970s. Filled with rage at their elders who had supported the Nazis and disgusted with the transformation of these barely reformed fascists into pillars of the new American-led order, these more radical hippies became domestic terrorists, leading to a series of bombings and other acts of violence.