Soldaten der deutschen Wehrmacht in Straßburg: u.a. Besichtigung des Straßburger Münster; Verladen von beschlagnahmten Gebrauchsgütern und Hausrat auf Lastwagen.
Soldaten besichtigen das Straßburger Münster; Schwenk über die Stadt; Fahrtaufnahme aus dem Auto; Soldaten laden Fahrräder von einem Lastwagen; Soldat, im Hintergrund Brücke; Fahrt von Autos über eine Behelfsbrücke; Schwenk über kriegszerstörte Häuser; Schwenk durch Innenraum (dunkel); Raum mit beschlagnahmtem Hausrat; Soldat schleppt Nähmaschine; Soldaten beladen Lastwagen mit Hausrat (v.E.); TC: 10:12:01:17: Offizier und Soldaten vor einem Gebäude; L'Aubette, Place Kleber mit Denkmal von Jean-Baptiste Kleber; Schild <Beratungsstelle der NSDAP Abt. Mutter u. Kind>; Büro, Männer am Schreibtisch; Soldaten steigen in Auto ein; Schwenk durch Büro (dunkel); Schild <Heilstube>; Schwenk durch Raum mit Bett und Waschbecken; Soldaten mit Spaten gehen über Hof; Schild <Dienststelle der Feldpost No 33971>; Soldat als Wache am Eingang einer Fabrik; Soldaten mit Spaten; Männer mit entblößtem Oberkörper bei der Arbeit; Soldat streichelt Hund; Innenraum (dunkel). //
Context and analysis
A facade looms in the semi-darkness until the pan ends on the church tower. It is the west facade of the Strasbourg Cathedral, whose Gothic forms are condensed in an upward striving. The camera seems to repeat this movement, but what initially appears to be ambiguous in the abundance of the facade pattern quickly turns out to be a gesture of the winner: German soldiers have occupied Strasbourg - the image of the cathedral as well as the view from the tower then become a trophy in the visual.
Driving through the city also becomes a gesture of power: the cyclists in front of the military car are virtually targeted through the windshield. Cinematic techniques have their origins in military techniques that served to clarify the terrain - this thesis by Paul Virillio is vividly understandable in this short amateur film from the western campaign, which began on May 10, 1940 and ended a few weeks later, on June 22, with the Capitulation of France.
On September 1, 1939, the Second World War began with the attack by the German Wehrmacht on Poland. France and Great Britain then declared war on the German Reich, but this was followed by a period of the 'seat war', during which the warring parties only observed each other. On May 10, 1940, the "Fall Yellow", planned by Hitler and his general staff, occurred, the invasion of German troops in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The "Fall Red" followed at the beginning of June: In a blitzkrieg with combined tank and air operations, the Germans proved superior to the Allied defense strategy and already took Paris on 14 June. The Compiègne armistice was closed on June 22.
The Liebfrauenmünster in Strasbourg, which attracted the attention of the German occupiers in 1940, is one of the most important cathedrals in the history of architecture. Built from the red sandstone from the Vosges between 1176 and 1439, the building was first designed in the Romanesque, then in the Gothic style. With its 142 meter high north tower, the cathedral was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874 and the tallest building completed in the Middle Ages. The young Johann Wolfgang Goethe saw his view of true art realized in Liebfrauenmünster and in 1773 dedicated his essay "Von Deutscher Baukunst" (From German Art of Construction) to one of the church's architects, Erwin von Steinbach.
Strasbourg had been evacuated at the beginning of the Second World War. Until the occupation by the Wehrmacht troops in June 1940, apart from barracked soldiers, there was no one in the city. The sea of houses of this abandoned city glides past in the view from above and finally binds itself to the view of soldiers, who can be seen in rear view, standing on top of the church tower. Images become prey: images in which the visible becomes an object, as well as in the cityscapes, which flit past in the car and curdle again and again into total shots: a flight of streets with cranes, the Rhine landscape, a makeshift bridge and ruins of destroyed houses. But for a few seconds the city also appears as a picture within a picture, taken through two openings in a dark room - and eludes the 'male' view of the victors by disappearing almost in the distance.
The claim of the documentary becomes noticeable when it is now the turn of the accommodations: the lounge with the fully occupied tables and the sleeping places, carefully turned away. When trucks are unloaded, more and more looted goods are carried towards the camera. The semi-darkness that envelops the scene - in the hall with the abundance of things piled up, this "picture" of a looting appears even more than what it is.
The Nazi state was essentially a new form of administrative control over life, which is now establishing itself in the occupied country. Multiple pans go through dark rooms that are not specially illuminated for shooting. It shows the uniformed figures at the desks like in a Kafkaesque scenery. Recordings of the "Heilstube", the ambulance room, develop into a small scenic sequence, in which a cut on the gesticulating patient in bed is framed by glances at the supervisor in the anteroom.Not only in the interiors, the pictures always have surreal features, also in the courtyard of the “Feldpost No. 33971 ”borders the documentary with the fictional. A pan glides over a row of standing soldiers, a front view shows the lounge area with field kitchen like a film set in geometric shapes. And the soldier who lovingly pats the dog in front of his hut is part of the fiction that the National Socialists designed of himself - shown in an amateur film that documents the occupation of Strasbourg. Reiner Bader
Places and monuments
Straßburger Münster (https://de.m.wikipedia.org).
Virilio, Paul: Krieg und Kino. Logistik der Wahrnehmung, Frankfurt / M. 1989.
- This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.