Rubble Film as Archive of Trauma and Grief: Wolfgang Lamprecht’s Somewhere in Berlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Since the 1960s critics have used notions of repression and amnesia to describe the difficulty Germans faced in dealing with the Third Reich and the Second World War. Most famously, Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich argued in their book The Inability to Mourn (1967) that in an attempt to shake off guilt the Germans blocked out any capacity for empathy and paid little attention to the losses of the victims of Nazism or their own for that matter.1 Observing an emotional rigidity in the postwar population, they concluded the Germans did not experience the melancholia or depression that in their view would have been the appropriate affective response to the collapse of the Third Reich, the loss of Hitler, and the confrontation with the Holocaust directly after the end of the war. While this psychoanalytical approach to postwar culture was able to draw attention to the unconscious effects of the past in the present, the Mitscherlichs’ focus on the suppression of guilt relied on an all too unitary notion of collective behavior and memory production. Moreover, their investment in a normative perspective of how the Germans should have dealt with the past prevented a further probing of the presumably absent affects of grief and depression. For decades to come, the interpretation of silence as an unconscious expression of moral uncertainty obscured an understanding of the traumatic consequences of mass death and destruction in the postwar population.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGerman Postwar Films
EditorsWilfried Wilms, William Rasch
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-230-61697-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-349-37504-2
StatePublished - 2008


  • affective response
  • music score
  • mass death
  • historical loss
  • representational language


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