More Than A Few Words About Post-War German Cinema, Race and ‘Toxi’

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive on 2012-08-04 23:05Z by Steven

More Than A Few Words About Post-War German Cinema, Race and ‘Toxi’

Shadow and Act: On Cinema of the African Diaspora

Sergio Mims, Staff Writer

For anyone interested in foreign films, one of the most interesting periods of German filmmaking was the post war period between 1946 to the mid 1960’s.

In effect, only two types of films were being made: pure escapist film such as musicals and comedies that were designed to make the audience complete forget the ugly events of the recent past. But then there were films such as The Lost One, Germany Year Zero, and Murderers Among Us which explicitly dealt with the aftermath of the horrors of World War II and Germany’s guilt and its repercussions.

But of all the films, one of the most fascinating, and worthy of rediscovery, is the 1952 film Toxi co-written and directed Robert Stemmie, who was major and very successful successful director of the period. It was one of the very few German films made then, and even now, which seriously tried to deal with race. No doubt a very touchy and controversial subject considering Germany’s Nazi “racial purity” agenda.

For years the film was very difficult to see. I first saw it a couple of years ago during a film series of post war German films. However, the film has been recently remastered and released on DVD and is available from the DEFA Film Library DVD series from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The film centers around an abandoned German “occupation baby”, which was the term for children of U.S, soldiers stationed in Germany after the war and German women, who were abandoned by their parents. It was estimated that there were some 3000-5000 of these children, many of whom were biracial.

The lead actress, who was six years old when she made the film, was Elfie Fiegert who was herself an “occupation baby” left by both her parents and adopted by a childless German couple who renamed her…

Read the entire review here.

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