Berlinale unveils new evidence of founder's Nazi past

Berlinale unveils new evidence of founder's Nazi past

Researchers have discovered that Alfred Bauer (right), founder and director of the Berlinale, had been a senior official in the Reich cinema administration. He was accompanied here by actress Sophia Loren and American journalist Elsa Maxwell

Share September 30, 2020 10:19 am Share Berlinale unveils new evidence of its founder's Nazi past Agence France-Presse BERLIN – The Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday presented new detailed revelations about its founder's decades-long hidden Nazi past and director for 25 years.

Researchers have thus discovered that Alfred Bauer, founder and director of the Berlinale from 1951 to 1976, had been a senior official in the Reich cinema administration.

This administration was created in 1942 by the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, in order to tightly control German film production.

Mr. Bauer, by his functions, thus “contributed to the functioning, the stability and the legitimization” of the Nazi regime, deplored the festival in a press release.

It was the weekly Die Zeit that made the first revelations in January about Mr. Bauer's past, leading the festival management to rename one of its awards and request an independent study from the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich (IfZ).

In particular, the IfZ obtained evidence of Mr. Bauer's membership of the Nazi Party and his fascination with the Nazi SA militia.

The founder of the Berlinale would also have played a key role in monitoring actors, producers and other members of the film industry, according to the Institute of History.

After the German surrender, Mr. Bauer managed to cover up this past, going so far as to present himself as a resistance fighter during interrogations carried out by the Allies.

Berlinale co-director Mariette Rissenbeek called “alarming” the latest evidence and the efforts made by Mr Bauer after World War II to conceal his role under the Third Reich despite the campaign of ” denazification ”led by the Allies.

This information “constitutes an important element in the process of understanding the Nazi past of cultural institutions founded after 1945”, she added.

Ms Rissenbeek called for further investigation into the roots of the German film industry and its links to the Nazi regime.

Mr. Bauer died in 1986 at the age of 74. The prize that bore his name was awarded at the Berlinale to the French director Alain Resnais or to the Chinese Zhang Yimou.

The Berlinale is with Cannes and Venice one of the main film festivals in Europe.

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