Dichtung und Wahrheit eines Stasi-Informanten in Annekatrin Hendels Dokumentarfilm Vaterlandsverräter (2012)

Alison Lewis


History and memory both have contributions to make to mastering the communist past, and yet, in relation to the GDR regime’s perpetrators—such as Stasi officers and informants—they cannot be considered equal partners. Documents from the Stasi archives (BStU) have generally been regarded as more reliable in ascertaining the truth about the past, while memory of collaborators, which often contains more fiction than fact, has been viewed with far more suspicion. Annekatrin Hendel’s documentary, Vaterlandsverräter (2012), about writer Paul Gratzik who was an informer for the Stasi, invokes the “evidentiary authority” (Baron) of the Stasi archive while also giving space to perpetrator memory. This article examines the role of the Stasi files as “testimonial objects” in eliciting a confession from Gratzik and how the confession is staged around the files’ “foundness.” The article argues that the authority of the archive is invoked not to elicit the truth about Gratzik but to probe the past and present in nuanced ways that promote reconciliation. The film can be seen as offering new, more inclusive approaches to perpetrator memory. (AL; in German)

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