5-2 | Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/10.17742/IMAGE.TGVC.5-2.4 | Stehle PDF

This essay dis­cuss­es the appear­ance of chil­dren in films that nego­ti­ate the lega­cies of West left-wing Ger­man and glob­al ter­ror­ism. The four films dis­cussed in this essay depict chil­dren in Schiefla­gen (askew posi­tions), but use these images to cre­ate rather dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal mes­sages. In Deutsch­land im Herb­st (1978), Die bleierene Zeit (1981) and Innere Sicher­heit (2000), chil­dren are melo­dra­mat­ic devices that con­vey a sense of nation­al tragedy, nos­tal­gia for “inno­cence,” and/or a nation­al­ly cod­ed sense of hope. As opposed to rep­re­sent­ing such an uncan­ny mix­ture between melo­dra­mat­ic vic­tim and nation­al sym­bol, chil­dren in the recent film col­lab­o­ra­tion Deutsch­land 09 (2009) are the face of the present. Deutsch­land 09 depicts chil­dren as dis­con­nect­ed from Ger­man his­to­ry, which relieves them of the bur­den of nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion and, as a result, offers a poten­tial for a less nor­ma­tive and more diverse per­spec­tive on Germany’s his­to­ry and present. While their miss­ing con­nec­tion to nation­al his­to­ry leaves them to appear detached and con­fused, this con­fu­sion can be read as a search for dif­fer­ent under­stand­ings of his­to­ry and belong­ing in twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry Germany.

Cet arti­cle exam­ine la représen­ta­tion des enfants dans des films qui trait­ent du legs du par­ti gauchiste de l’Allemagne de l’ouest et du ter­ror­isme inter­na­tion­al. Les qua­tre films analysés mon­trent des enfants en pos­tures cri­tiques (Schiefla­gen), mais utilisent ces images pour trans­met­tre des mes­sages poli­tiques rad­i­cale­ment dif­férents. Dans Deutsch­land im Herb­st (1978), Die Bleierene Zeit (1981), et Innere Sicher­heit (2000), les enfants sont des out­ils mélo­dra­ma­tiques qui com­mu­niquent un sens de tragédie nationale, de nos­tal­gie pour l’ « inno­cence », et/ou un sen­ti­ment d’espoir nation­al. D’autre part, au lieu de représen­ter un mélange inquié­tant entre vic­time mélo­dra­ma­tique et sym­bole nation­al, les enfants dans le récent film Deutsch­land 09 (2009) se font sym­bol­es du présent. Deutsch­land 09 mon­tre des enfants décon­nec­tés de l’histoire alle­mande, ce qui les soulage du fardeau de la représen­ta­tion nationale, et par con­séquent offre la pos­si­bil­ité d’une per­spec­tive moins nor­ma­tive et plus var­iée sur l’Allemagne des livres d’histoire ain­si que sur l’Allemagne d’aujourd’hui. Bien que leur détache­ment face à l’histoire nationale les représente comme décon­nec­tés et per­dus, cette déroute peut se lire comme une quête inter­pré­ta­tive du sens de l’histoire et de l’appartenance à l’Allemagne du vingt-et-unième siècle.

Maria Stehle | The Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee, Knoxville

Askew Positions—Schieflagen:
Depictions of Children in German Terrorism Films

The online ver­sion of the British paper Dai­ly Mail calls the US Amer­i­can film Extreme­ly Loud and Incred­i­bly Close (2011) “the worst film ever to be nom­i­nat­ed for Best Pic­ture at the Oscars”[1] and tries to explain this nom­i­na­tion by the fact that the film address­es one of the most trau­mat­ic events of our times, the ter­ror­ist attacks of 9/11, by fol­low­ing the search of a boy for traces of his father who was killed in the attacks. The main com­plaint in this par­tic­u­lar review does not refer to the way in which the film address­es the after­math of the 9/11 attacks; it focus­es on the por­tray­al of the child, which the review­er calls “obnox­ious,” “con­trived,” and “triv­i­al­iz­ing.” Two years pri­or to the pre­mier of this film, the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed film by Aus­tri­an direc­tor Michael Haneke, Das weiße Band (The White Rib­bon, 2009), was released. Set just before the out­break of WWI in a small Ger­man vil­lage, the town’s chil­dren are the “ter­ror­iz­ers.” Most pop­u­lar media reviews read these abused and sup­pressed chil­dren as rep­re­sent­ing a gen­er­a­tion of Ger­mans that would lat­er sup­port Nazi Ger­many.[2] The sub­ti­tle of the film, “eine deutsche Kindergeschichte”—“a Ger­man children’s sto­ry,” fur­ther empha­sizes what makes this film excep­tion­al: it is a children’s sto­ry in that it depicts the lives of chil­dren but tells a very bru­tal, fright­en­ing tale full of mys­tery and sus­pense.[3] These two con­tem­po­rary and pop­u­lar films offer rather dif­fer­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tions of chil­dren and ter­ror and/or ter­ror­ism. Nonethe­less, both films choose chil­dren as cen­tral pro­tag­o­nists to address the top­ics of ter­ror­ism and ter­ror in a broad­er sense. In both films, the chil­dren also appear to be some­what uncan­ny and unpre­dictable; at the same time, the child character(s) are clear­ly nation­al­ly cod­ed and intri­cate­ly tied to nation­al his­to­ries and futures, be it in a search for nation­al heal­ing and recov­ery in post 9/11 Amer­i­ca or as a fore­bod­ing sign of Germany’s Nazi atrocities.

Nation­al cod­ings of child-char­ac­ters in ter­ror­ism films pose a more gen­er­al ques­tion about what roles child pro­tag­o­nists play in cin­e­mat­ic depic­tions of vio­lence, trau­ma, and ter­ror­ism. More specif­i­cal­ly of inter­est to this essay are depic­tions of chil­dren in films about polit­i­cal ter­ror­ism and its after­math in the Ger­man con­text. While schol­ar­ly dis­course has grap­pled with Ger­man ter­ror­ism films in gen­er­al, espe­cial­ly fol­low­ing the inter­na­tion­al suc­cess of the film Der Baad­er Mein­hof Kom­plex (Baad­er Mein­hof Com­plex, 2008),[4] not many researchers have addressed the appear­ance of chil­dren, in spite of the fact that chil­dren are rather promi­nent in Ger­man films that depict the effects of left-wing ter­ror­ism. In this essay, I argue that chil­dren in ter­ror­ism films are the embod­i­ments of dif­fer­ent kinds of Schiefla­gen, a term tak­en from the title of a short film from the col­lec­tion Deutsch­land 09. I use Schiefla­gen to describe the “askew posi­tions” that child char­ac­ters take in the con­text of these nar­ra­tives; the term also allows me to explore how, through such child char­ac­ters, films address the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion that ter­ror­ism and vio­lence cre­ate in twen­ti­eth and twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry Ger­many. The films inter­pret these Schiefla­gen—and their impli­ca­tions of Ger­many, Ger­man his­to­ry, and nation­al identity—rather dif­fer­ent­ly. After first dis­cussing three films that link child char­ac­ters direct­ly to Germany’s nation­al past and iden­ti­ty, the sec­ond part of this essay focus­es on the col­lab­o­ra­tive film project Deutsch­land 09, which com­pli­cates the con­nec­tion between rep­re­sen­ta­tions of chil­dren and nation­al his­to­ry in its depic­tion of chil­dren as detached from Germany’s past. This detach­ment means that rather than sym­bol­iz­ing a nation­al past, present, and future, the child char­ac­ters in Deutsch­land 09 pose ques­tions about belong­ing and progress that go beyond the nation­al per­spec­tives sug­gest­ed in pre­vi­ous ter­ror­ism films.

I under­stand “ter­ror­ism films” as Ger­man films that nego­ti­ate the lega­cy of West Ger­man ter­ror­ism, main­ly left-wing ter­ror­ism in the 1970s and ear­ly 1980. The ear­ly twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry saw a wave of such films, most famous­ly Der Baad­er Mein­hof Kom­plex (2008), but oth­ers include Baad­er (2002), Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In, 2000), the docu-dra­ma Todesspiel (1997), and the doc­u­men­tary Black Box BRD (2001). In parts, this renewed inter­est in the main­ly home-grown ter­ror­ism that shook West Ger­many in the 1970s and into the 1980s is a result of the dis­cus­sions sur­round­ing glob­al ter­ror­ism and the kinds of pol­i­tics it pro­duced in the after­math of the 9/11 attacks. These films about the lega­cies of Ger­man ter­ror­ism are also part of a wave of so-called “her­itage films” (Koep­nick, 2002, 2004) that rene­go­ti­ate the Ger­man past in the after­math of uni­fi­ca­tion in—in some cas­es Hollywood-style—fiction and non-fic­tion films of the 1990s and ear­ly twen­ty-first century.

In this con­text, Deutsch­land 09—13 Filme zur Lage der Nation (Ger­many 09—13 Films About the State of the Nation), released in 2009, plays a spe­cial role. Nei­ther her­itage film nor explic­it­ly a film about left-wing ter­ror­ism, the film-project posi­tions itself in the his­tor­i­cal con­text of Ger­man ter­ror­ism films by direct­ly ref­er­enc­ing one of the most ambi­tious Ger­man film clas­sics, Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn, 1978). As a col­lab­o­ra­tion between film­mak­ers of the New Ger­man Cin­e­ma, among oth­ers Kluge and Fass­binder, Deutsch­land im Herb­st explored the effects of left-wing ter­ror­ism in West Ger­many in an essay­is­tic for­mat. While in Deutsch­land im Herb­st, the con­tri­bu­tions by the dif­fer­ent film­mak­ers are inter­con­nect­ed and edit­ed togeth­er to cre­ate one artis­tic prod­uct, Deutsch­land 09 presents thir­teen dis­tinct short films that set out to sur­vey the state of the Ger­man nation in the after­math of 9/11. In both film projects, the appear­ance of chil­dren is high­ly loaded with mean­ing; how­ev­er, the two films use chil­dren to cre­ate rather dif­fer­ent kinds of nation­al trajectories.

To offer a crit­i­cal exam­i­na­tion of the role of child pro­tag­o­nists in Ger­man ter­ror­ism films, I first con­tex­tu­al­ize my more detailed dis­cus­sions of four Ger­man films about ter­ror­ism with­in a more gen­er­al dis­cus­sion of child pro­tag­o­nists in film. Then I sur­vey images of chil­dren in two West Ger­man films, Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn, 1978) and Die Bleierne Zeit (Mar­i­anne and Julianne, 1981), and in a more recent Ger­man film, Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In, 2000). The fol­low­ing, more detailed, dis­cus­sion of Deutsch­land 09 (2009) allows me to argue that some of the films in this col­lab­o­ra­tive film project offer new inter­pre­ta­tions of the Schiefla­gen ter­ror and ter­ror­ism pro­duces. In the films from the 1970s and 1980s as well as in Petzold’s Innere Sicher­heit, chil­dren are the ulti­mate vic­tims of ter­ror; at the same time they embody—and are bur­dened with carrying—a nation­al hope for a bet­ter, more peace­ful and demo­c­ra­t­ic future. Child pro­tag­o­nists are a melo­dra­mat­ic device that cre­ates a sense of fear and tragedy, and nos­tal­gia for a kind of “inno­cence” as well as a nation­al­ly cod­ed sense of hope. Sim­i­lar­ly, the chil­dren depict­ed in Deutsch­land 09 are heav­i­ly loaded sym­bols. But rather than pre­sent­ing this pecu­liar mix­ture between melo­dra­mat­ic vic­tim or sym­bol for a (poten­tial­ly) bet­ter nation­al future, they are the curi­ous faces of a Ger­man present: a wealthy coun­try that nonethe­less strug­gles with pover­ty; a mul­ti­cul­tur­al coun­try that empha­sizes inte­gra­tion and edu­ca­tion, but strug­gles with vio­lence and racism; a coun­try that search­es for its his­to­ries while strug­gling to get away from it.

Deutsch­land 09 aims to depict, rather gen­er­al­ly, “the state of the nation,” which means that the con­nec­tion between child­hood, ter­ror­ism, and trau­ma in Deutsch­land 09 is much more ten­u­ous than in the oth­er films I am dis­cussing in this essay. But the ques­tion of nation­al and glob­al ter­ror­ism serves as a per­ma­nent under­cur­rent, because most of the short films under­stand Germany’s cur­rent “state” in close con­nec­tion to twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry his­to­ry, a his­to­ry that could be told as a sto­ry of vio­lence and ter­ror. The films also sit­u­ate Ger­many in a glob­al con­text, which includes the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks and their after­math. The chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 do not appear as vic­tims of ter­ror or as the poten­tial agents who could over­come a vio­lent or ter­ror­ist nation­al past, rather they func­tion as reminders that ques­tions of social jus­tice and inclu­sion mat­ter in a glob­al­ized world.

What unites the rather dif­fer­ent depic­tions of chil­dren dis­cussed in this essay is the fact that chil­dren and young adults play impor­tant roles in films about ter­ror­ism and/or nation­al trau­ma. In her essay on chil­dren in film, fol­low­ing psy­chol­o­gist Adam Phillips, Karen Lury states that “the child is […] per­haps the essen­tial ‘sub­ject’ in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture, roman­ti­cized and pathol­o­gized” (Lury,307). In this read­ing, what is often cod­ed as sym­bol­iz­ing “inno­cence” in the fig­ure of a child, comes to stand for a cer­tain kind of essen­tial­ism (see also Lee Edel­man, No Future 2–3).[5] The roman­ti­ciz­ing depic­tion of chil­dren on the one hand and of child­hood as pathol­o­gy on the oth­er hand is direct­ly relat­ed to this essen­tial­ism. Chil­dren can stand for some­thing pure and, at the same time, for some­thing fun­da­men­tal­ly evil and threat­en­ing. The child con­tains an essence that one can­not under­stand; some­thing about the child remains uncan­ny. When such child­hood images are com­bined with trau­ma, they pro­duce images of chil­dren as vic­tims, poten­tial­ly so severe­ly dam­aged by the past that they become uncon­trol­lable and dan­ger­ous. In the face of trau­ma, how­ev­er, chil­dren can also sym­bol­ize hope for a bet­ter, inno­cent and untaint­ed, future.[6]

This ten­sion in the depic­tion of chil­dren in cin­e­ma relates to a fur­ther point Lury stress­es: name­ly that images of chil­dren and child­hood often serve an inher­ent­ly con­ser­v­a­tive and nor­ma­tive agen­da (see Edel­man). Chil­dren sym­bol­ize a het­ero­nor­ma­tive under­stand­ing of time and progress, of human­i­ty and repro­duc­tion.[7] Judith Hal­ber­stam fol­lows a sim­i­lar log­ic in In a Queer Time and Place when she argues that devel­op­ing a queer sense of time and place means to posi­tion one­self out­side of the het­ero­sex­u­al repro­duc­tive cycle, which places par­ent­hood and the tasks com­mon­ly asso­ci­at­ed with being a par­ent at the cen­ter of a log­ic of time, progress, and a “cycle” of life. Child­hood, then, sig­ni­fies a stage that leads to matu­ri­ty and childbearing/rearing. Lury insists, how­ev­er, that at the same time as the child embod­ies a con­ser­v­a­tive under­stand­ing of life, progress, and time, some­thing about the image and the fig­ure of the child remains uncon­tain­able, espe­cial­ly when it comes to cin­e­mat­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of child­hood. This often has to do with a rather vague con­struc­tion of the agency of the child on screen—and I might add intention—that turns the child into some­thing “dis­rup­tive, impos­si­ble, unin­tel­li­gi­ble” (Lury 308). Fur­ther, while the child stands for a nor­ma­tive cycle of life, he or she, espe­cial­ly when trau­ma­tized, under threat, or oth­er­wise in a com­pro­mised posi­tion, also always sig­ni­fies the dis­rup­tion of such a cycle and the threat to nor­ma­tive under­stand­ings of order that comes with such a disruption.

Fur­ther, and this is cru­cial for the fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions of child­hood and trau­ma, the dis­rup­tive qual­i­ty of the child is often enhanced by the fact that child pro­tag­o­nists remain large­ly silent (see Trn­ka, 9). When the child on the screen does not speak, his or her agency and inten­tion is a blank screen for pro­jec­tion. The image of a silent, but trau­ma­tized or hurt child trig­gers strong emo­tion­al respons­es in the view­ers: parental pro­tec­tive­ness and sad­ness but also fear of what might become of such a child. Rather than affirm­ing a sense of a pre­dictable life cycle the gaze of these silent­ly star­ing chil­dren cre­ates a loom­ing sense of insta­bil­i­ty. Chil­dren in Ger­man ter­ror­ism films embody this ten­sion between progress and hope and a feel­ing of insta­bil­i­ty and uncon­trol­lable dan­ger. The films dis­cussed in the fol­low­ing nego­ti­ate ques­tions of nation­al his­to­ry and nation­al belong­ing via this very tension.

The main his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ence point for most Ger­man ter­ror­ism films is the cul­mi­na­tion of left-wing ter­ror­ist vio­lence in West Ger­many in 1977. Paul Cooke sum­ma­rized the so-called “Ger­man Autumn” as

a peri­od of three months in 1977 that saw an increase in vio­lent attacks by    the urban ter­ror­ist group Rote Armee Frak­tion, or Red Army Fac­tion (RAF), cul­mi­nat­ing in the deaths of its found­ing mem­bers Jan-Carl Raspe, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baad­er in their high-secu­ri­ty prison Stammheim, as well as one of the group’s high-pro­file kid­nap vic­tims, the indus­tri­al­ist Hanns-Mar­tin Schley­er. (Cooke 328)

In her more detailed account of the events and devel­op­ments lead­ing up to this cul­mi­na­tion of vio­lence, Nora Alter stress­es the inter­na­tion­al con­text that influ­enced the actions and the per­cep­tion of left-wing ter­ror­ism in 1970s West Ger­many (Alter 46-48). She fur­ther describes an “atmos­phere of para­noia and self-cen­sor­ship” that “grew dra­mat­i­cal­ly, with the media play­ing ful­ly into the hands of the gov­ern­ment” (Alter 50). This atmos­phere is cru­cial for any attempt to under­stand what Alter describes as “cul­tur­al respons­es” of the time. In order to exam­ine the dis­cours­es in the after­math of the events of 1977, “a thor­ough analy­sis […] ought to exam­ine the inter­play between uncon­scious trau­ma and con­ven­tion­al taboo” (53), which includes the com­plex rela­tion­ship between under­stand­ings of the Ger­man Autumn and Germany’s Nazi past. Eric Kliger­man, sum­ma­riz­ing Miri­am Hansen, points out that “the Ger­man Autumn oper­ates in the crevices of his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, where a ‘col­lec­tive work of mourn­ing ensues’ (18)” (15), and sug­gests that visu­al­ly, the “the icon­ic images from the death camps […] are repeat­ed­ly rein­scribed in these films’ nar­ra­tives,” which “func­tion as the trig­ger for both left-wing activism and polit­i­cal enlight­en­ment” (15). Ger­man ter­ror­ism films, there­fore, are—even when they do not direct­ly ref­er­ence the Holocaust—always also cul­tur­al respons­es to a dis­course about Germany’s vio­lent past and Germany’s poten­tial for a demo­c­ra­t­ic future. In addi­tion to this nation­al dis­course, in a post-9/11 world, films about ter­ror and ter­ror­ism par­tic­i­pate in glob­al dis­cus­sions about polit­i­cal vio­lence, ter­ror, and security.

Many film schol­ars have described the film project Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn, 1978) in detail and, gen­er­al­ly, cred­it it for its inno­v­a­tive con­cep­tu­al approach as well as the abil­i­ty to cap­ture a cer­tain cul­tur­al and polit­i­cal atmos­phere. Cook summarizes:

Framed by doc­u­men­tary footage of the funer­als of Schley­er and the RAF ter­ror­ists, the film uti­lizes a range of forms, from World War II news­reels, melo­dra­mat­ic nar­ra­tive sequences, real and staged inter­views, stills of paint­ings and poems, voiceover com­men­taries, and frag­ments of clas­si­cal and pop­u­lar music, in an attempt to cap­ture what its cre­ators per­ceived to be a col­lec­tive hys­te­ria that had tak­en hold of soci­ety at the time. (Cooke 329)

While, accord­ing to Cooke, the film argues for col­lec­tive mourn­ing,[8] he also stress­es that it offers a rather com­plex pic­ture of the polit­i­cal ques­tions at hand and that it con­tains moments of irony and self-reflex­iv­i­ty. This is also achieved through the “hybrid­i­ty” of the film, its mean­der­ing between fact and fic­tion (see Alter 56). This hybrid form allows the film as a whole to present the Ger­man Autumn as a series of “unre­solved events” that remain open and ambiva­lent (see Alter 59).

Alter fur­ther empha­sizes the ambiva­lent mes­sage that the film sends in regards to gen­der (68–71). Women are depict­ed as rev­o­lu­tion­ary vic­tims of the state; at the same time, their sup­pressed vio­lence is used in the gory ser­vice of the state. This prompts Alter to restate one of the ques­tions the film asks: “Is it equal­ly impor­tant for new gen­er­a­tions to ques­tion their moth­ers as well as their fathers?” (71). The ques­tion of moth­ers and sons, of gen­er­a­tions and mem­o­ries, is a the­mat­ic thread that weaves itself through the film. The ter­ror­ists are the sons and daugh­ters of a gen­er­a­tion that came of age under the Nazis. This his­tor­i­cal fact is stressed from the begin­ning of the film, when it opens with a let­ter Hans-Mar­tin Schley­er wrote to his son while he was a pris­on­er of the RAF. This let­ter is fol­lowed by a quote from a “moth­er,” who, dur­ing wartimes, sim­ply calls for the vio­lence to stop. The next, and by far the longest, sequence is Fassbinder’s con­tri­bu­tion, which promi­nent­ly fea­tures a con­ver­sa­tion between him—or his screen self—and his mother.

The only instance of a child pro­tag­o­nist fea­tur­ing some­what promi­nent­ly on screen is the boy who attends the funer­al of Raspe, Baad­er, and Ensslin in the final seg­ment of the film (fig. 1). As Alter points out, the child seems vul­ner­a­ble, threat­ened, and “always alone,” and he is “nev­er iden­ti­fied” (72). The assump­tion that view­ers can make is that the child is Ensslin’s orphaned son. The film, accord­ing to Alter’s read­ing, does not sug­gest that the “bad moth­ers” are to blame, but that they can be under­stood as a symp­tom of a nation in cri­sis. The final image of the film is of a women who leaves the funer­al with a lit­tle girl, try­ing to catch a ride with one of the many cars leav­ing the grave­yard through the autumn forest—a for­est filled with police sur­veil­lance (fig. 2). Alter reads the shot of the anony­mous moth­er and child who walk away from the funer­al as a sym­bol of “nur­tur­ing moth­er­hood” (Alter 74). This read­ing is sup­port­ed by the image that pre­cedes the funer­al seg­ment: a draw­ing of an unborn child in the womb.[9] In this read­ing of the final sec­tion of the film, chil­dren, in need of nur­tur­ing moth­er­hood, point to the neces­si­ty and maybe urgency for the cre­ation of a bet­ter future. At the same time, there is some­thing uncan­ny about these chil­dren since they, once again, wit­ness vio­lence, oppres­sion, and death. It is not clear at the end of the film whether this cycle of vio­lence can and will be bro­ken by this new gen­er­a­tion of (Ger­man) chil­dren and their mothers.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Just like their moth­ers, these silent chil­dren appear to be lost. They observe, but their faces do not only project a sense of inno­cence; they also show pain, hurt, and lone­li­ness. In either case, the film stress­es the impor­tance of these silent, anony­mous, chil­dren by giv­ing them a promi­nent place in the end­ing sequence. This places them in the cen­ter of the melo­dra­mat­ic mood with which the film con­cludes, empha­sized also by the final song’s promi­nent but ambiva­lent line: “the last and final moment is yours that agony is your tri­umph.”[10] The boy who is leav­ing the funer­al in a car (fig. 1)—a scene depict­ed in black and white, pre­sum­ably from actu­al doc­u­men­tary footage—contrasted with the child walk­ing away with her moth­er in her bright red sweater and long, float­ing pink skirt, are the two poles that sym­bol­ize the nation­al Schieflage that Ger­many finds itself in and they set the final tone of the film: fear and tragedy and a very vague sense of a stub­born grasp for hope for a bet­ter future.

Com­pared to the brief appear­ance of chil­dren in Deutsch­land im Herb­st, film schol­ars have dis­cussed the role of chil­dren in Von Trotta’s rather con­ven­tion­al­ly melo­dra­mat­ic fic­tion film Die Bleierne Zeit (Mar­i­anne & Juliane, 1981) in much greater detail. The film tells the sto­ry of two sis­ters, Juliane, a jour­nal­ist and fem­i­nist activist, and Mar­i­anne, who decides to leave her fam­i­ly and join a ter­ror­ist group. The film is, maybe first and fore­most, a film about ques­tions West Ger­man fem­i­nists faced in the 1970s. Rather than relat­ing the images of child­hood to the treat­ment of Ger­man ter­ror­ism in the film, schol­ars most­ly focus on the rela­tion of chil­dren to the fem­i­nist mes­sage of the film.[11]

Von Trotta’s film con­nects her com­plex dis­cus­sion of ter­ror­ism to ques­tions of fem­i­nist activism and social respon­si­bil­i­ty in gen­er­al. The film’s nar­ra­tive fur­ther com­bines the fight for legal­iza­tion of abor­tion (as made explic­it in an ear­ly scene in the film, where Juliane par­tic­i­pates in a demon­stra­tion against “para­graph 218,” the law against abor­tion), one of the main agen­das of West Ger­man fem­i­nists in the late 1970s, with a dis­cus­sion of (fem­i­nist) moth­er­hood. Mar­i­anne leaves her son Jan with his father when she decides to go under­ground. Her hus­band, in turn, leaves the child with Juliane, claim­ing he has to go abroad for a tem­po­rary job assign­ment. Rather than depart­ing for his assign­ment, how­ev­er, he com­mits sui­cide and Juliane has to decide what to do with the child. Juliane, fem­i­nist jour­nal­ist and activist, had made a con­scious deci­sion not to have chil­dren her­self. Much of the dra­mat­ic ten­sion of the film then results from the ten­sion between the two sister’s life choic­es, as a con­se­quence of both their strict Chris­t­ian upbring­ing in 1950s West Ger­many and their polit­i­cal con­vic­tions. Juliane, for exam­ple, sug­gests that the turn to vio­lence in her sister’s activism can be explained as a reac­tion against her pre­vi­ous choic­es to have a child and a rather tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly and mar­riage. The silent child in the film is not only depict­ed as the vic­tim of his ter­ror­ist moth­er and of oth­er chil­dren who attack him once they find out who his real moth­er is. He also con­verts his fem­i­nist aunt to a com­mit­ted moth­er and thus becomes a con­vey­or of hope for a dif­fer­ent, both less vio­lent and more nur­tur­ing future. Nonethe­less, the boy’s gaze is the gaze of a hurt, trau­ma­tized, and sad child.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Hofer fur­ther points out that Juliane’s choice to take care of Jan is trig­gered by his attempt­ed mur­der. In the final scene, Mar­i­anne is back in her study, but as Hofer describes, “set in con­trast to the open­ing sequence, Juliane is last seen not alone in her study but with Jan. She sits behind her desk, the type­writer in front of her, sug­gest­ing that she has resumed her work as a jour­nal­ist” (Hofer 51). Susan Linville offers a sim­i­lar inter­pre­ta­tion: “If Jan is a metaphor for his gen­er­a­tion […] then Juliane's care for and exem­plary guid­ance of the boy would also seem a par­a­digm of women's larg­er roles in enabling the cul­ture to remem­ber, grieve, and evolve” (108). Through­out the film, the shots of the main­ly silent child pro­tag­o­nist empha­size his role as a vic­tim, as an accuser, and as a chal­lenge for the (female) pro­tag­o­nists. His gaze asks for expla­na­tions of the past and insists that he deserves a bet­ter, more secure and more peace­ful future. In this way, the silent boy plays a rather sim­i­lar role to the chil­dren at the end of Deutsch­land im Herb­st. He is a melo­dra­mat­ic vic­tim who forces Juliane to both con­front the past and work towards a bet­ter future. The image of the child rip­ping apart a mug-shot of his moth­er and the pro­longed shot of a train ride illus­trate these two func­tions of the child pro­tag­o­nist (figs. 3 and 4). This turns Jan into a rather ambiva­lent car­ri­er of hope: a deeply hurt and trau­ma­tized child that needs to be pro­tect­ed and nur­tured in the hope that he can over­come the trau­ma. Jan embod­ies the Schieflage of the Ger­man nation in that he remains an uncan­ny child: he does not laugh or play, rather he sulks and stares. The ques­tion of whether Juliane’s deci­sion to care for the child can “heal” him and, in effect, help to cre­ate a future for Ger­many, remains unanswered.

In con­trast to the two films dis­cussed above, where chil­dren present obsta­cles for the main char­ac­ters or serve as sym­bols in an over­ar­ch­ing argu­ment, Petzold’s Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In, 2000), released twen­ty years lat­er than Bleierne Zeit, makes an ado­les­cent child, the daugh­ter of two for­mer ter­ror­ists, the cen­tral pro­tag­o­nist. Her par­ents are for­mer left-wing ter­ror­ists who live under­ground and—unsuccessfully—try to cre­ate a secure future for their daugh­ter Jeanne. Since the parent’s plight dri­ves the plot of the film, the film is often read as a cri­tique of the lega­cy of the 1968ers. The teenag­er Jeanne is por­trayed as a vic­tim of her par­ents’ life choic­es and her agency is con­struct­ed only in ten­sion with and in response to her par­ents. Ste­fanie Hofer focus­es on this read­ing of the film:

The State I Am In cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly scrutinize[s] the life of an ado­les­cent girl, Jeanne, who must come to terms with her par­ents’ ter­ror­ist past. At the film’s out­set, we find the fif­teen-year-old girl in Por­tu­gal. She is on the run with her parents—the ex-ter­ror­ists Hans and Clara—who dream of a bour­geois life in Brazil. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for the trio, the mon­ey required for their transat­lantic trav­el is stolen, and the fam­i­ly must return to Ger­many. (39)

Hofer reads the sym­bol­ism of the film as sug­gest­ing “that it is Hans' and Clara's [the par­ents’] past-life fights for polit­i­cal free­dom that have iso­lat­ed their daugh­ter from soci­ety and the real world” (39). Hofer’s read­ing focus­es on Jeanne’s choice to cre­ate a future for her­self either by sev­er­ing the ties with the past/parents or by devel­op­ing a con­struc­tive rela­tion­ship to this past (Hofer 39–40). Hofer con­cludes that “Petzold's por­tray­al of gen­er­a­tions and gen­er­a­tional con­flict is high­ly para­dox­i­cal” (40). Jeanne “walks with hang­ing shoul­ders as if afflict­ed with the bur­den of her parent's past, doomed to suf­fer what one might con­sid­er a trans­gen­er­a­tional trau­ma that Jeanne has unwit­ting­ly inher­it­ed” (Hofer 41). Espe­cial­ly towards the end of the film, when Jeanne is sub­ject­ed to what she per­ceives as “ques­tion­ing” by her par­ents, her par­ents are aligned with Nazi tac­tics and the fam­i­ly is depict­ed as the small­est ter­ror­ist unit (Hofer 41–42). This means that the film could also be read as a film about the ter­rors of the nuclear fam­i­ly unit. In the case of this fam­i­ly, the ter­ror they expe­ri­ence is height­ened by their sit­u­a­tion in the “under­ground,” but the con­flicts between par­ents and ado­les­cent child are much more gen­er­al­ly applic­a­ble. The emo­tion­al inten­si­ty of the film lies in its abil­i­ty to desta­bi­lize the secu­ri­ty of the fam­i­ly unit.

While this inter­pre­ta­tion makes the film rather time­less and not specif­i­cal­ly Ger­man, Pet­zold does locate his pro­tag­o­nists very explic­it­ly with­in a Ger­man con­text. In using clips from Night and Fog, for exam­ple, “Pet­zold shows the Holo­caust to be the cen­ter­piece for the for­ma­tion of the 68er's gen­er­a­tional iden­ti­ty” (Hofer 43). The end­ing, accord­ing to Hofer, sig­ni­fies free­dom for Jeanne (52), free­dom from her inter­de­pen­den­cy and loy­al­ty to her cor­rupt and cor­rupt­ible par­ents. Not look­ing at the car-wreck that pre­sum­ably killed both of her par­ents, she stares off into an unknown future (fig. 5). This free­dom, so Hofer, is not cod­ed pos­i­tive­ly. Jeanne will become a poor orphan, sim­i­lar to her boyfriend Hein­rich in the film (Hofer 52–53). With this bleak end­ing, Petzold’s film shows that Ger­many remains haunt­ed by the vio­lence of the past and the silence around it (Hofer 53). The child is a vic­tim of this past, car­ries this bur­den with­in her, and serves as a sym­bol for the (im)possibility of a bet­ter future.

Even though Jeanne is the main pro­tag­o­nist, she does not speak much and when she talks she usu­al­ly con­ceals more than she reveals. When her father con­fronts her and calls her strange and closed off, she responds with a ques­tion: “liebt ihr euch wieder?” (“do you love each oth­er again?”) The film turns silence into an actu­al theme on screen. The father sug­gests to Jeanne that if you find your­self ques­tioned by the author­i­ties, all you have to do is remain silent and it will dri­ve them mad. Jeanne uses this strat­e­gy, rather suc­cess­ful­ly, with her par­ents. This means that silence in the film not only cre­ates images of a lost, lone­ly, and dis­turbed ado­les­cent, silence is also scru­ti­nized as a polit­i­cal strategy.

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Jeanne’s pres­ence on screen cre­ates sim­i­lar ques­tions to the films dis­cussed above. She often stares in an accusato­ry, but also search­ing, vul­ner­a­ble, and in some scenes, des­per­ate­ly hope­ful way (fig.6). Die Innere Sicher­heit does, as the Eng­lish title might sug­gest, depict the “state” Ger­many is cur­rent­ly in as stuck between an unre­solved past and—possibly as a result—an unclear future. The teenag­er, who is start­ing to devel­op an inter­est in rela­tion­ships and sex and strug­gles with her depen­dence on her par­ents, is a sym­bol for unstop­pable change. She is grow­ing up (fast) and she wants to grow up, but, due to her par­ents’ life under­ground, her grow­ing up, i.e., going out and meet­ing boys, puts the whole fam­i­ly unit in dan­ger. This leads to a con­clu­sion that echoes Hofer’s inter­pre­ta­tion of the film as para­dox­i­cal, how­ev­er, this para­dox, or Schieflage, as I call it, appears to be a trope in Ger­man ter­ror­ism films that depict chil­dren: chil­dren embody the dis­rup­tion of secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty; at the same time their pres­ence sig­ni­fies the urgency for a secure fam­i­ly unit and the need for a more peace­ful future.

The films dis­cussed so far deploy images of child­hood and chil­dren to address ques­tions about Germany’s past and future. In that sense, their lives are under­stood with­in a rather con­ven­tion­al tem­po­ral matrix: the het­ero-nor­ma­tive time­line of com­ing of age is trans­posed onto a nation­al sense of progress and his­to­ry. The uncan­ny child serves as a reminder of the vio­lent past and as a vague, ques­tion­able sign of hope for the future. They use child char­ac­ters as dri­ving forces in vio­lent and (melo)dramatic nation­al nar­ra­tives. The chil­dren sig­ni­fy lives and, by exten­sion, a nation, in an askew posi­tion, a Schieflage. This Schieflage is depict­ed as a result of a nation­al con­text: Germany’s Nazi past and of the vio­lent polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in the 1970s.

The chil­dren depict­ed in Deutsch­land 09, a col­lab­o­ra­tive film project that con­sists of thir­teen short films, do not occu­py a clear posi­tion in a lin­ear, nation­al his­to­ry; rather, their uncan­ny pres­ence marks a dis­rup­tion of a nation­al, his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly note­wor­thy since the idea of the film project, and its assign­ment for the par­tic­i­pat­ing film­mak­ers, was to depict Germany’s, i.e., a nation­al “state.” While the short films do not focus on one spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal con­text, as a “remake” of Deutsch­land im Herb­st, the film project as a whole offers a com­plex pic­ture of the effects of glob­al ter­ror­ism and, with vague ref­er­ences to Ger­man ter­ror­ism, Germany’s cur­rent “state.” Paul Cooke describes the project itself:

In August 2007, Tom Tyk­w­er and the Ger­man tele­vi­sion chan­nel NDR (Nord­deutsch­er Rund­funk) brought togeth­er a group of well-known    film­mak­ers to dis­cuss an omnibus film project that would explore the state of the nation in the first decade of the new mil­len­ni­um, years in which the indus­try has enjoyed lev­els of suc­cess at home and abroad it has not expe­ri­enced for decades. (327)

Cooke notes that while in direct ref­er­ence to Deutsch­land im Herb­st, Deutsch­land 09 is clear­ly a very dif­fer­ent film, “most obvi­ous­ly in struc­tur­al terms”:

While the for­mer inter­weaves the work of its var­i­ous artists, the lat­ter con­sists of a series of self-con­tained short films, each iden­ti­fied by an indi­vid­ual title and film­mak­er. How­ev­er, crit­i­cal recep­tion of Tykwer’s project failed to notice the the­mat­ic links between the two films, as well as the numer­ous aes­thet­ic echoes which allow us to explore key con­ti­nu­ities as well as impor­tant dif­fer­ences between these two moments in the devel­op­ment of Ger­man cin­e­ma. (328)

Cooke insists that “despite its struc­tur­al dif­fer­ence to the ear­li­er film, on a the­mat­ic lev­el, Tykwer’s Deutsch­land 09 sim­i­lar­ly presents a Ger­man soci­ety in cri­sis, pro­voked by numer­ous fac­tors, not least of which, the film sug­gests in its strongest echo of Deutsch­land im Herb­st, is the government’s per­ceived over­re­ac­tion to the threat of ter­ror­ism” (Cooke 332).

Cooke’s read­ing of the film reveals that its dif­fer­ent con­tri­bu­tions have a much more shaky rela­tion­ship to the past than the oth­er films dis­cussed above. They dis­play, as Cooke describes it a “lack of faith … in the cer­tain­ties of the past, even as they are nos­tal­gi­cal­ly invoked” (340). Cooke under­stands the film’s pol­i­tics as post­mod­ern, but with an opti­mistic twist: “while the film evokes the tra­di­tion of the New Ger­man Cin­e­ma, it fails to main­tain the polit­i­cal cer­tain­ties of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, high­light­ing impor­tant dif­fer­ences between these two moments in film his­to­ry. Most obvi­ous­ly, Deutsch­land 09 points to the poten­tial for a more pos­i­tive inter­pre­ta­tion of Ger­man society’s present direc­tion in its inclu­sion of voic­es that were either exclud­ed or spo­ken for in Deutsch­land im Herb­st” (341). The films do indeed include voic­es that the oth­er films dis­cussed here do not include, and while the over­all image that the films cre­ate of Ger­man soci­ety is cau­tious­ly hope­ful, its mes­sage remains utter­ly con­fused and some­what cyn­i­cal. Such con­fu­sion and cyn­i­cism sur­face in the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of chil­dren. The chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 are not insert­ed into the life-cycle of the fam­i­ly or their nation. In most films, they appear as par­ent-less, search­ing, argu­ing, float­ing (even lit­er­al­ly so), or lost. They embody rather con­tem­po­rary askew posi­tions, Schiefla­gen that result from the fact that lin­ear his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives and causal­i­ties appear to have lost their pow­er to explain “the state of the nation.”

The short film that opens the col­lec­tion, “Erster Tag,” (First Day) shows a child wak­ing up in her home alone in the morn­ing. The girl talks to her moth­er, who is already at work, on the phone briefly before she heads out to school. This short film main­ly depicts a real­i­ty of many chil­dren in Ger­many today, a real­i­ty far from the tra­di­tion­al fam­i­ly where a stay-at-home moth­er has pre­pared break­fast before she sends her child off to school. Aside from offer­ing a rather neu­tral, almost doc­u­men­tary-like treat­ment of a social real­i­ty, the shots of the win­dow and the ear­ly morn­ing sky do invoke a sense of nos­tal­gia and lone­li­ness (fig. 7). These feel­ings, how­ev­er, are not con­nect­ed in any way to his­tor­i­cal or nation­al events. The film, there­fore, remains an attempt to show the mun­dane cycle of every-day-life of many chil­dren, not just in Ger­many, today.

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Gefährde­ter” (Endan­gered) tells a sto­ry based on the case of Andrej Holm, a uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor in Berlin who was accused of par­tic­i­pat­ing in van­dal­ism of lux­u­ry cars in 2007 and was pros­e­cut­ed as being a mem­ber in a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion. “Gefährde­ter,” offers one of the most direct ref­er­ences to Ger­many in Autumn. The top­ic of this short film is state-sur­veil­lance, state-ter­ror, and in gen­er­al, the treat­ment of peo­ple who are con­sid­ered to be a threat to the state. In “Gefährde­ter,” the inter­ac­tions with his chil­dren show that the main pro­tag­o­nist, who is tak­en into cus­tody under false accu­sa­tions, is a com­pas­sion­ate and lov­ing father who deeply cares for his chil­dren. In this sense, the injus­tice and bru­tal­i­ty of his unjus­ti­fied incar­cer­a­tion is enhanced by the fact that he is tak­en away from his har­mo­nious domes­tic life, his wife and his chil­dren. The depic­tion of the domes­tic as a space of har­mo­ny under threat by the state stands in con­trast to Ger­many in Autumn, where the domes­tic has become a space of sus­pi­cion and psy­cho­log­i­cal as well as phys­i­cal violence.

Fatih Akin’s con­tri­bu­tion to Deutsch­land 09, “Der Name Murat Kur­naz,” (The Name Murat Kur­naz) tells the true sto­ry of a young Turk­ish man who was cap­tured and tak­en to Guan­tanamo Bay as a ter­ror­ist-sus­pect. Denis Mos­chit­to plays Murat Kur­naz who is inter­viewed by a jour­nal­ist (fig. 8). The clos­est com­par­i­son to Deutsch­land im Herb­st would be the inter­view with Horst Mahler, the for­mer RAF attor­ney, in his prison cell. The inter­view Akin shows, how­ev­er, is staged and takes place in a hotel room. Fur­ther, rather than get­ting lost in pseu­do-philo­soph­i­cal ram­blings like Mahler, this inter­view is a straight for­ward con­ver­sa­tion about the young man’s expe­ri­ences, his inter­pre­ta­tion of the action (or miss­ing action) that Ger­man politi­cians took, and his out­look into the future. An impor­tant part of the inter­view address­es Murat’s peti­tion of Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship. This cre­ates the most inter­est­ing ten­sion in the film between, on the one hand, Murat’s sense of belong­ing in Ger­many and his deep dis­ap­point­ment with the Ger­man state, espe­cial­ly then for­eign min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier, who refused to free Murat from Guan­tanamo, in spite of the fact that “Stein­meier muss gewusst haben, dass ich gefoltert wurde” (Stein­meier must have known that I was tor­tured). The film, sim­i­lar to “Gefährde­ter,” shows an inno­cent vic­tim. It address­es the press­ing human­i­tar­i­an issue of tor­ture in the post 9/11 con­text, and it involves a con­ver­sa­tion about reli­gion and the role of Islam in Murat’s sur­vival of extreme psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal tor­ture. While the con­tent of the inter­view is bleak, the sense of hope comes from the fact that Murat is speak­ing, that he is speak­ing up and has vowed to do that in the future.

This fic­tion­al inter­view, which is in large parts based on a real inter­view, does not fea­ture a child pro­tag­o­nist but rather a young man. His depic­tion as vul­ner­a­ble, soft-spo­ken, and inno­cent, how­ev­er, alludes to images of trau­ma­tized chil­dren on screen. Aside from the depic­tion of Ger­many as a state that clos­es its eyes even when know­ing about tor­ture, but at the same time as the coun­try that Murat wants to belong to, the film con­tains a sec­ond ten­sion: while Murat appears to be a peace­ful, reli­gious man, the ques­tion of whether such mea­sures vis-à-vis per­ceived ter­ror­ists cre­ate more ter­ror­ism is an under­cur­rent in the inter­view. How could one not emerged scarred and angry from such an expe­ri­ence? This turns him into a “child” as defined above—innocent and vul­ner­a­ble, but poten­tial­ly so severe­ly harmed that he could turn into a threat, to him­self and or oth­ers. Murat Kur­naz’ place with­in Ger­man nation­al his­to­ry, how­ev­er, remains contested.

The con­tri­bu­tion by Nico­lette Kreb­itz, “Die Unvol­len­dete” (The Unfin­ished) fea­tures Helene Hege­mann, a six­teen-year old Ger­man author, who land­ed a sur­prise suc­cess with her nov­el Axolotl Road­kill (2010) last but not least due to the accu­sa­tion of pla­gia­rism. In the film, Helene arranges a meet­ing with (the ghosts of) Susan Son­tag and Ulrike Mein­hof in a rather emp­ty Berlin apart­ment (fig. 9). In her con­ver­sa­tion with her two dead (poten­tial) heroes, she quick­ly becomes dis­il­lu­sioned. She is look­ing for a pur­pose, for a polit­i­cal call­ing, for ener­gy that will allow her to “mal echt ver­suchen Poli­tik zu machen, die Welt zu ret­ten, was weiss ich” (to real­ly get into pol­i­tics, save the world, I don’t know). In a col­lage from real texts and inter­views by Mein­hof and Son­tag, both char­ac­ters fail to offer Helene any guid­ance and both get lost in their own wordy and lofty dis­cours­es, Mein­hof is talk­ing about class strug­gle and patri­archy and Son­tag about the pow­er of art and soul and wis­dom. Helene feels that they should have met since they might have been able to learn from each oth­er, pos­si­bly made the right com­bi­na­tion. In the morn­ing, both char­ac­ters sim­ply van­ish and Helene is left where she start­ed, with­out guid­ance or orientation.

Helene embod­ies a cur­rent state—she is not depict­ed as a vic­tim, but as a teenag­er look­ing for guid­ance that the old­er gen­er­a­tion can­not offer her. Helene is not placed in a specif­i­cal­ly Ger­man con­text. Rather, her attempt to bring Mein­hof and Son­tag togeth­er aims to place Ger­many in a transna­tion­al frame of ref­er­ence. Helene in the film does not pose ques­tions about the future. In her post-punk appear­ance and atti­tude, she rather looks like a pro­po­nent of a “no future” atti­tude. Her attempt to con­nect to the past and, pos­si­bly derive a plan of action for her­self based on these fig­ures from the past, fails.  As Son­tag and Mein­hof van­ish, Helene mum­bles “ich glaube nicht, dass ich mir aus irgen­det­was etwas mache […]. Aber es ist ein­fach einges­per­rt in seinem Kinderz­im­mer zu leben” (I don’t think that I care about any­thing. But it is easy to live locked away in ones children’s room).

Fig. 9

Helene shares some char­ac­ter­is­tics with Petzold’s fic­tion­al char­ac­ter Jeanne. How­ev­er, rather than depict­ing this ado­les­cent teenag­er as unable to envi­sion a life for her­self that is untaint­ed by her parent’s past, Helene miss­es any kind of famil­ial attach­ment. She is look­ing for a con­nec­tion to her “moth­ers,” to her (fem­i­nist) his­to­ry, but fails to find it. The Helene Hege­mann char­ac­ter embod­ies a Schieflage that comes from a dis­con­nec­tion to the past and to (fem­i­nist) politics.

Sylke Enders’ “Schieflage” (Askew Posi­tion) the film that gave this essay its title, fol­lows a jour­nal­ist, her­self moth­er of two chil­dren, on her vis­it to a children’s soup kitchen. The jour­nal­ist wants to do a report on the chil­dren and Rolf (pre­sum­ably a social work­er) who runs the facil­i­ty, but the inter­view some­how falls short of her expec­ta­tions. Rolf strug­gles to find words to describe what he is doing and can­not answer more prob­ing ques­tions about how he makes sure that the chil­dren who show up in fact need his help. He ends the con­ver­sa­tion by insist­ing that every­thing is a lot more com­pli­cat­ed than he just made it sound.

As the jour­nal­ist is about to leave with her team, she can­not find her wal­let and accus­es one of the chil­dren, a boy named Jo who lives with his psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly dis­turbed and pos­si­bly addict­ed moth­er, to have stolen it. The child runs away as Rolf and the jour­nal­ist run after him only to find out lat­er that the jour­nal­ist had sim­ply left the wal­let in her car. This scene could be read as a ref­er­ence to Andreas Dresen’s film Nacht­gestal­ten (Night Fig­ures), where a busi­ness­man accus­es an African boy to have stolen his wal­let only to find he had left it behind at the counter him­self. Instead of the racial pro­fil­ing that under­lies the businessman’s per­cep­tion, “Schieflage” shows a form of social pro­fil­ing. The child, how­ev­er, by run­ning away as if he was a guilty thief, plays with or into the adult’s per­cep­tion. The shaky cam­era pans over the faces of the chil­dren, often shows Jo, an approx­i­mate­ly twelve year old boy with dyed, black hair, and Rolf, who looks tired and tense except when he is with the chil­dren. The film also offers a glimpse into the life of the jour­nal­ist and her two chil­dren as they fight in the car and as they fail to express grat­i­tude for an expen­sive birth­day par­ty their moth­er orga­nized for them.

The chil­dren in this film address an often-mar­gin­al­ized issue in con­tem­po­rary Ger­many: the gap between rich and poor in Ger­many. Beyond sim­ply con­trast­ing the real­i­ties of the chil­dren, the film also makes a com­par­i­son: while Jo is depict­ed as a silent, intro­vert­ed, and sen­si­tive child (fig. 10), the jour­nal­ists’ chil­dren are obnox­ious and loud (fig. 11). The chil­dren, how­ev­er, share a sense of sad­ness. Chil­dren in this short film embody the dis­con­nec­tion between the social real­i­ties of chil­dren grow­ing up in Ger­many today. What con­nects these chil­dren, who seem to live worlds apart, to each oth­er, how­ev­er, is the sense that they them­selves are—or at least feel—lost.

Fig. 10

Fig. 11

The short film “Eine demokratis­che Gespräch­srunde zu fest­gelegten Zeit­en” (A Demo­c­ra­t­ic Dis­cus­sion Group at Set Times) might be one of the most inter­est­ing con­tri­bu­tions to Deutsch­land 09. In what could be read as a nod to Fassbinder’s episode in Ger­many in Autumn, where the Fass­binder char­ac­ter dis­cuss­es democ­ra­cy with his moth­er, or oth­er parts of the 1978 film that address the fail­ure of West Ger­man democ­ra­cy, a group of chil­dren come togeth­er to make deci­sions in a demo­c­ra­t­ic way. This con­ver­sa­tion is facil­i­tat­ed and struc­tured, and, to a cer­tain extent chore­o­graphed by their teacher, which indi­cates the sec­ond frame of ref­er­ence here, the school film.[12] What might be most notable in the con­text is that sim­i­lar to many school films, the teacher is a white female who teach­es a class with a major­i­ty of chil­dren with migra­tion backgrounds.

The goal of this round­table con­ver­sa­tion is to edu­cate the chil­dren about demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es, to teach them how to argue, how to reach a com­pro­mise, and to decide what is fair. The idea is that every child can “entschei­den, stim­men, abstim­men” (decide, vote, elect). The first issue is set­tled quick­ly: the chil­dren find it unfair that their Turk­ish peers get to take a day off for Bayram (a gen­er­al term for a nation­al or reli­gious hol­i­day), while the oth­ers have to attend school. The com­pro­mise is that the class will go on an excur­sion that day.

Fig. 12

Fig. 13

The sec­ond issue up for dis­cus­sion is the sug­ges­tion that the class nev­er play dodge ball again since it always seems to lead to fights; a long con­ver­sa­tion with var­i­ous sug­gest­ed solu­tions fol­lows. The class reach­es what seems to be a fair con­sen­sus only with the very active par­tic­i­pa­tion of the teacher, who sug­gests that one of the boys, who most chil­dren accuse of being the insti­ga­tor of the fight­ing, should get anoth­er chance. In this sense, what sets out as a demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ver­sa­tion, turns into adult inter­ven­tion, main­ly because the chil­dren seem to be inclined to agree on rather harsh sanc­tions for one of their peers. In addi­tion to this inter­est­ing twist in the con­ver­sa­tion and in what was sup­posed to be a demo­c­ra­t­ic process, the cam­era work of the film is most note­wor­thy. The cam­era often lingers on the faces of the chil­dren and cap­tures their very sub­tle facial expres­sions as the dis­cus­sion takes place (figs. 12 and 13). The children’s faces express both, an earnest attempt to resolve the issues at hand and bore­dom and frus­tra­tion with going through the motions as the teacher dic­tates them.

Aside from a rather iron­ic depic­tion of the demo­c­ra­t­ic process, the fact that many of the chil­dren in this demo­c­ra­t­ic con­ver­sa­tion, pre­sum­ably, come from a Mus­lim back­ground, adds anoth­er polit­i­cal dimen­sion to the film. The film, pos­si­bly unin­ten­tion­al­ly so, asks the ques­tion of whether in a post-9/11 world, such a delib­er­ate edu­ca­tion to democ­ra­cy should be a mod­el or if teach­ing democ­ra­cy is, as it appears at cer­tain moments of the film, an illu­sion. The ques­tion of whether these chil­dren can or should be Germany’s demo­c­ra­t­ic future is implic­it in this film. What becomes clear, how­ev­er, is that regard­less of their “edu­ca­tion,” these chil­dren change the face of Germany.

Dani Levy’s “Joshua” is prob­a­bly the most com­pli­cat­ed film of the col­lec­tion since it plays with film gen­res like the absurd com­e­dy, ref­er­ences oth­er films and filmmakers—most notably to Woody Allen, and choos­es a humor­ous approach to a seri­ous issue: the bleak mood that many Ger­mans find them­selves in, the fear that dri­ves them, and the ques­tion of what kind of “ther­a­py” might help to devel­op a more pos­i­tive out­look on the future. In choos­ing a Jew­ish protagonist—similar to Fass­binder in Ger­many in Autumn, the film­mak­er appears to play himself—and the­ma­tiz­ing the awk­ward­ness with which that non-Jew­ish Ger­mans react to their Jew­ish Mit­bürg­er (fel­low cit­i­zens), oth­er than the oth­er films in this col­lec­tion, this film does direct­ly ref­er­ence the Ger­man past. Levy places his screen self in a coun­try haunt­ed by its past; how­ev­er, this awk­ward rela­tion­ship to Jew­ish­ness and the issue of bleak­ness is very much framed as an issue of con­tem­po­rary Ger­many, it is Germany’s state in 2009. The psy­chol­o­gist Levy sees pre­scribes a pill, “ein deutsches Heilmit­tel,” (a Ger­man rem­e­dy), that leads to what Levy per­ceives as hal­lu­ci­na­tions. Levy expe­ri­ences a Ger­many where every­one is friend­ly and hap­py, but even­tu­al­ly, this Ger­many turns into an absurd night­mare: as Levy twirls his son around when he picks him up from school, the boy starts to float away (fig. 14). Levy com­plains to the psy­chol­o­gist, but he insists that Levy does not suf­fer from hal­lu­ci­na­tions but rather that he sees a “andere Wahrheit” (a dif­fer­ent truth). The psy­chol­o­gist insists that the pills are not drugs, since you don’t even need a pre­scrip­tion for them; Levy’s mind is the drug.

On his search for his child, Levy ends up in trou­ble with the police, and, escap­ing the police van, he runs past a group of men, marked as Mus­lims, who plan a ter­ror­ist attack on Berlin’s cen­tral train sta­tion as they sit around in the park. All the while, his son is float­ing high above the city, past most of Berlin’s major landmarks.

Dur­ing one of his stops, the child lands on Angela Merkel’s lap dur­ing a meet­ing. At the end of the film, as Levy storms into his psy­chol­o­gists’ office, he inter­rupts a ses­sion with Angela Merkel. The psy­chol­o­gist tells Merkel that “Deusch­land ist mehr als die Summe sein­er Einzel­teile. Deutsch­land ist eine Idee” (Ger­many is more than the sum of its parts. Ger­many is an idea), upon which Merkel asks, with a sad face, “was für eine Idee?” (what kind of an idea?) .

Fig. 14

Fig. 15

The float­ing child could be read as a metaphor for the future that escapes Levy’s grasp, for a future that he can­not have or cer­tain­ly not con­trol, espe­cial­ly since at the end of the film, his son lands in the midst of a Neo Nazi gath­er­ing, in “the first Nation­al Social­ist vil­lage in Ger­many,” where he is crowned the new leader of the move­ment. As part of the meet­ing, the cam­era shows a group of chil­dren, most notably a young girl with blond braids, singing a macabre song about death (fig. 15). While Joshua remains inno­cent­ly clue­less through­out his jour­ney, this singing child depicts the uncan­ny, evil child in a com­bi­na­tion between sweet inno­cence and uncon­trolled vio­lence and death. Obvi­ous­ly, this scene in the vil­lage ref­er­ences Germany’s past and express­es the fear of a return of his­to­ry in the future. How­ev­er, more than a sym­bol for the future, the child float­ing away and the Jew­ish child crowned as a Nazi leader sig­ni­fies the father’s fear of and dis­trust in the Ger­many he finds him­self liv­ing in and the Ger­many that his child is grow­ing up in. Ger­many in Levy’s film is in a Schieflage between the wish and hope for a more cheer­ful, friend­ly, coun­try that allows for child-like dreams and hap­pi­ness and a Ger­many full of somber, psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly dis­turbed peo­ple haunt­ed by their past and their presents. His­to­ry in “Joshua” is not a point of ori­en­ta­tion that deter­mines the tra­jec­to­ry of a nation. His­to­ry min­gles with the present and becomes a tan­gled mess in Levy’s hal­lu­ci­na­tions about the state of the nation.

The chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 give a face to what Russ­ian-Ger­man writer and cul­tur­al com­men­ta­tor Wladimir Kamin­er has sug­gest­ed, name­ly that Ger­many in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry is “eine wun­der­bare Illus­tra­tion des men­schlichen Scheit­erns” (a won­der­ful illus­tra­tion of human fail­ure).[13] Kamin­er describes Ger­many as a coun­try that is in a con­stant state of try­ing to improve and rein­vent itself, but con­tin­u­ous­ly fails at this very attempt. The chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 embody these attempts and their “won­der­ful” fail­ures. Child­hood in these films is not a sym­bol­ic state that con­nects the past with a long­ing for or promise of a bet­ter future; rather, the chil­dren embody the fail­ures of nor­ma­tive under­stand­ings of (nation­al­ly cod­ed) repro­duc­tion and progress. Deutsch­land 09 address­es press­ing ques­tions like racism, pover­ty, neo-Nazism, polit­i­cal fear and para­noia in a 9/11 world, and the future of fem­i­nism. The chil­dren who give faces to these issues, how­ev­er, do not offer any answers. They stare at what they expe­ri­ence as a Ger­man present, as the state of things. This inter­pre­ta­tion does not imply that Deutsch­land 09 presents a pes­simistic pic­ture of “the state of the nation,” but it refrains from offer­ing any sug­ges­tions for an opti­mistic out­look. Beyond that, tak­en togeth­er, the films ques­tion whether a nation­al per­spec­tive makes sense to begin with, since nation­al his­to­ries and con­texts do not appear to offer any sense of orientation.

Eric Kliger­man asserts that by “jux­ta­pos­ing and blur­ring the bor­ders between dif­fer­ent trau­mat­ic images and dis­tinct moments of his­to­ry,” film­mak­ers like “Alexan­der Kluge, Rain­er Fass­binder, Volk­er Schlön­dorff, Mar­garethe von Trot­ta, and, most recent­ly, Chris­t­ian Pet­zold sub­mit […] unique his­to­ries to a series of prob­lem­at­ic yet illu­mi­nat­ing dis­tor­tions” (13). While Kliger­man main­ly exam­ines the films’ rela­tion­ships to the Holo­caust and the Nazi past, the above dis­cus­sion about depic­tions of chil­dren begs the ques­tion of what role images of chil­dren might play in fur­ther illu­mi­nat­ing such prob­lem­at­ic dis­tor­tions between trau­mat­ic pasts and presents. The image of the child on screen lends itself to depic­tions of Schiefla­gen, because, as stat­ed above, while child char­ac­ters project a sense of hope, some­thing about the silent child, the trau­ma­tized child, or the con­fused child remains uncan­ny and uncon­trol­lable. Chil­dren in Deutsch­land im Herb­st, Die Bleierne Zeit, and Die Innere Sicher­heit rep­re­sent a nexus between past and future. At this nexus, the silent chil­dren embody a Schieflage between nation­al melan­cho­lia, despair, and hope. These rep­re­sen­ta­tions are prob­lem­at­ic in that the chil­dren embody nation­al progress; they become essen­tial­ized sym­bols of his­tor­i­cal time and nation­al progress. At the same time, sim­i­lar to the ter­ror­iz­ing chil­dren in Das weiße Band, some­thing about these trau­ma­tized chil­dren remains uncan­ny. It is not clear if, because they are chil­dren, they can or will break with what the films con­struct as a Ger­man his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry or if, for the very same rea­son, this his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry will inevitably continue.

Deutsch­land 09 depicts chil­dren as dis­con­nect­ed from any kind of his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry, which relieves them of this prob­lem­at­ic bur­den of his­tor­i­cal, nation­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Detached from clear fam­i­ly struc­tures and from any sense of what nation­al and his­tor­i­cal progress might mean, the chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 give a face to an askew and unsta­ble present. In that sense, the images of chil­dren in Deutsch­land 09 offer a poten­tial for a less nor­ma­tive and more diverse per­spec­tive on “Germany’s state.” Rather than employ­ing the uncan­ny child as a tool to refer to a specif­i­cal­ly Ger­man bur­den of his­to­ry that prob­lem­at­i­cal­ly min­gles past and present, the films use uncan­ny and in some cas­es play­ful ele­ments of images of chil­dren and child­hood to pose ques­tions about pover­ty, racism, and social and polit­i­cal exclu­sion. In Deutsch­land 09, Germany’s Schieflage is not pri­mar­i­ly or only caused by a specif­i­cal­ly nation­al prob­lem, but by glob­al imbalance.

Dis­cus­sions about Germany’s rela­tion­ship to its vio­lent past, nation­al iden­ti­ty, and nation­al­ism are ongo­ing. While, for rather dif­fer­ent rea­sons, some claim that it is time that Ger­many and Ger­mans devel­op a “nor­mal” nation­al­ism and move away from claim­ing a spe­cial sta­tus based on its past, oth­ers warn against such nor­mal­iza­tions since they might res­ur­rect dan­ger­ous (Ger­man) nation­alisms and/or allow for revi­sion­ist under­stand­ings of his­to­ry. A selec­tive dis­cus­sion of depic­tions of chil­dren in ter­ror­ism film and their rela­tion to debates about Germany’s past and nation­al iden­ti­ty reveals sub­tleties and prob­lem­at­ic aspects in visu­al and nar­ra­tive nego­ti­a­tions of Germany’s his­to­ry and nation­al tra­jec­to­ry. My dis­cus­sion of Deutsch­land 09 fur­ther shows that attempts to cre­ate cin­e­mat­ic nar­ra­tives of Ger­many that do not fol­low a lin­ear, his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ry do not nec­es­sar­i­ly cre­ate uncrit­i­cal depic­tions of a Ger­many that has “over­come” its past and has devel­oped a more pos­i­tive atti­tude towards nation­al iden­ti­ty. Rather, Deutsch­land 09 shows that a visu­al sur­vey of Germany’s “state” in 2009 can pro­duce a com­plex set of images that embeds dis­cus­sions about nation­al iden­ti­ties, vio­lence, and social injus­tice in a glob­al context.

Works Cited

Abel, Mar­co: “Imag­ing Ger­many: The (Polit­i­cal) Cin­e­ma of Chris­t­ian Pet­zold,” in: The Col­lapse of the Con­ven­tion­al: Ger­man Film and its Pol­i­tics at the Turn of the Twen­ty-First Cen­tu­ry, eds. Jaimey Fish­er and Brad Prager, Detroit: Wayne State Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2010. 258–84. Print.

Alter, Nora: “Fram­ing Ter­ror­ism: Beyond the Bor­ders.” Pro­ject­ing His­to­ry: Ger­man non­fic­tion cin­e­ma, 1967-2000, U of Michi­gan Press, 2002. 43–75. Print.

Brelo­er, Hein­rich. Todesspiel, 1997, TV Pro­duc­tion. DVD.

Cooke, Paul: “The long shad­ow of the New Ger­man Cin­e­ma: Deutsch­land 09Deutsch­land im Herb­st and nation­al film cul­ture.” Screen 52:3 (Autumn 2011). 327–42. Print.

Daldry, Stephen. Extreme­ly Loud and Incred­i­bly Close, 2011, Warn­er Bros.

Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), Var­i­ous Direc­tors, 2009 X-Filme. DVD.

Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn), Var­i­ous Direc­tors, 1978 Filmver­lag der Autoren. DVD.

Edel, Ulli. Der Baad­er Mein­hof Kom­plex, 2008, Con­stan­tin Film Pro­duc­tions. DVD.

Edel­man, Lee. No Future: Queer The­o­ry and the Death Dri­ve. Durham: Duke UP, 2004. Print.

Elsaess­er, Thomas. New Ger­man Cin­e­ma: A His­to­ry. New York: Pal­grave, 1989. Print.

Fachinger, Petra. “Fatal (In)Tolerance? The Por­tray­al of Rad­i­cal Islamists in Recent Ger­man Lit­er­a­ture and Film.” Sem­i­nar 77.5 (Novem­ber 2011): 646–60. Print.

Hal­ber­stam, Judith. In a Queer Time and Place. NYU Press, New York: 2005. Print.

Haneke, Michael. Das weiße Band: Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Rib­bon), 2009, X-Filme Cre­ative Pool. DVD.

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Linville, Susan E. Fem­i­nism, Film, Fas­cism. Women's Auto/ Bio­graph­i­cal Film in Post­war Ger­many. Austin: Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas Press, 1998. Print.

Lury, Karen: “The child in film and tele­vi­sion: intro­duc­tion.” Screen 46:3 (Autumn 2005): 307–14. Print.

Pal­frey­man, Rachel. “The Fourth Gen­er­a­tion: Lega­cies of Vio­lence as Quest for Iden­ti­ty in Post-uni­fi­ca­tion Ter­ror­ism Films.” Ger­man Cin­e­ma Since Uni­fi­ca­tion. Ed. David Clarke. New York: Con­tin­u­um, 2006. 11–42. Print.

Pet­zold, Chris­t­ian. Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In), 2000 Schramm Film. DVD.

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Image Notes

Fig­ure 1: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn), 1978 Filmver­lag der Autoren

Fig­ure 2: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land im Herb­st (Ger­many in Autumn),1978 Filmver­lag der Autoren

Fig­ure 3: Mar­garete von Trot­ta, Die Bleierne Zeit (Mar­i­anne and Juliane),1981 Bioskop Film

Fig­ure 4: Mar­garete von Trot­ta, Die Bleierne Zeit (Mar­i­anne and Juliane),1981 Bioskop Film

Fig­ure 5: Chris­t­ian Pet­zold, Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In), 2000 Schramm Film

Fig­ure 6: Chris­t­ian Pet­zold, Die Innere Sicher­heit (The State I am In), 2000 Schramm Film

Fig­ure 7: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 8: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 9: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 10: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 11: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 12: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 13: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 14: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

Fig­ure 15: Var­i­ous Direc­tors, Deutsch­land 09: 13 Kurze Filme zur Lage der Nation, (Ger­many 09: 13 Short Films about the State of the Nation), 2009 X-Filme

End Notes

[1] http://​www​.dai​ly​mail​.co​.uk/​t​v​s​h​o​w​b​i​z​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​-​2​1​0​2​3​7​2​/​E​x​t​r​e​m​e​l​y​-​L​o​u​d​-​A​n​d​-​I​n​c​r​e​d​i​b​l​y​-​C​l​o​s​e​-​f​i​l​m​-​r​e​v​i​e​w​-​E​x​t​r​e​m​e​l​y​-​l​o​n​g​-​i​n​c​r​e​d​i​b​l​y​-​c​r​a​s​s​.​h​tml

[2] See for exam­ple the New York Times Review by A.O. Scott “Whole­some Hamlet’s Hor­ror Sends a Jolt to the Sys­tem”: “Do the math: it’s 1914. In 20 or 30 years, what do you sup­pose these chil­dren will be up to?” http://​movies​.nytimes​.com/​2​0​0​9​/​1​2​/​3​0​/​m​o​v​i​e​s​/​3​0​w​h​i​t​e​.​h​t​m​l​?​p​a​g​e​w​a​n​t​e​d​=​a​l​l​&​_​r=0

[3] I would also sug­gest read­ing these kinds of rep­re­sen­ta­tions of chil­dren in ref­er­ence to the tra­di­tion of fairy tales, anoth­er form of often uncan­ny and vio­lent children’s sto­ry. Fur­ther, of course, an analy­sis of hor­ror films would be very fruit­ful in this con­text. In films of the New Ger­man Cin­e­ma, chil­dren often play cru­cial sym­bol­ic roles, see for exam­ple Wen­ders’ Alice in den Städten or his lat­er film Him­mel über Berlin that repeats Handke’s poem “als das Kind Kind war…”.

[4] See Trn­ka, 2007. This film also offers an inter­est­ing depic­tion of chil­dren and moth­er­hood; how­ev­er, in the con­text of this argu­ment, the main­ly indi­vid­u­al­ized per­spec­tive of this film does not add much to the discussion.

[5] For more dis­cus­sions on child­hood and film/TV Lury refers to the Screen con­fer­ence in 2004, see: http://​tech​.dir​.groups​.yahoo​.com/​g​r​o​u​p​/​t​h​e​d​i​n​o​s​a​u​r​a​b​y​s​s​/​m​e​s​s​a​g​e​/​1​779

[6] A very good con­tem­po­rary exam­ple for such an uncan­ny child is the depic­tion of Carl, the child in the TV dra­ma “The Walk­ing Dead” (AMC, 2010- ongoing).

[7] In order to make this point, Lury quotes Lee Edelman’s Queer The­o­ry and the Death Dri­ve.

[8] In ref­er­ence to Thomas Elsaess­er, New Ger­man Cin­e­ma 260.

[9] A fur­ther ref­er­ence to chil­dren can be found in Schlöndorff’s Die Stille nach dem Schuß (The Leg­end of Rita, 2000). Towards the end of the film, Rita gets preg­nant and this preg­nan­cy seems to sug­gest that she might be able to final­ly enter a “nor­mal” life. In this film, how­ev­er, any such hopes are disappointed.

[10] The song “Here’s to you” by Joan Baez.

[11] See, for exam­ple, Sil­ber­man, Linville, or Hofer.

[12] See, for exam­ple the Hol­ly­wood film Dan­ger­ous Minds, the Ger­man TV pro­duc­tion Ghet­tokids, or the French film The Class, dis­cussed in Stehle Ghet­to Voic­es, 90–91.

[13] http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​2​f​P​B​a​q​o​0​804.

This arti­cle is licensed under a  Cre­ative Com­mons 3.0 License although cer­tain works ref­er­enced here­in may be sep­a­rate­ly licensed, or the author has exer­cised their right to fair deal­ing under the Cana­di­an Copy­right Act.