,,Aus heutiger Sicht gab’s damals nicht“: Jan-Ole Gerster’s Oh Boy and the Frischian Opacity of Vergangenheitsbewältigung

Patrick Ploschnitzki and David Gramling


Blankenship and Twark (2017) showed that Jan-Ole Gerster’s 2012 Oh Boy (or: “A Coffee in Berlin”) addresses Vergangenheitsbewältigung to varying degrees of overtness and intensity. However, the movie refuses an interpretation of being entirely about this ubiquitous topic in German Studies and culture. Rather, it raises questions of identity, much like Max Frisch’s 1954 Stiller does in its opening sentence “Ich bin nicht Stiller!” The movie and the novel share interpretations by scholars that involve Vergangenheitsbewältigung, and they both include prominent female victims named Julika. We argue that the parallels don’t stop there, and that Oh Boy is in fact a contemporary restaging of Stiller— just shy of a remake, and just short of being overtly about Vergangenheitsbewältigung—and that both works are deeply embedded in the context of this issue as well as Nachkriegsliteratur, with Oh Boy heavily drawing from Stiller in a submerged literary intertextuality as a tool to comment on Germany’s collective dealing with the past at the time of its release. (PP/DG)

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