Title

Edgar Wallace: Dealing with the German Past

Date

5-29-2014 4:00 PM

End Time

29-5-2014 4:30 PM

Location

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

Department

History

Session Chair

John L. Rector

Session Title

History Master Degree Papers

Faculty Sponsor(s)

David Doellinger

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

From 1959 to 1972, German film studios produced thirty-six films based on Edgar Wallace mystery novels for the German market. "Hier spricht Edgar Wallace," resounded throughout German cinemas at a time, when, with the exception of the equally popular Karl May western serials, they were the only successful German film productions. There are many theories as to why these stories became so popular in 1950s and 60s Germany, from the need for extraterritorial fantasies, to the rise of the young, male moviegoer. Many fault the films for not supplying a post-war catharsis, and by doing so, avoid dealing directly with the Nazi past. However, the films did just that. By dealing with the questions of guilt and innocence in another time, and another place, readers and viewers could question the difference between petty criminals and monstrous killers, and cheer for the often less-than-spotless hero. Wallace films gave young audiences a chance to question, and perhaps ultimately understand, their parents through one of the only safe and non-confrontational means available to humankind—entertainment. By looking at a society through the lens of its popular culture, we can begin to understand the motives and feelings of this 'lost' generation of German youths, whose quest for justice would never quite be complete.

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May 29th, 4:00 PM May 29th, 4:30 PM

Edgar Wallace: Dealing with the German Past

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

From 1959 to 1972, German film studios produced thirty-six films based on Edgar Wallace mystery novels for the German market. "Hier spricht Edgar Wallace," resounded throughout German cinemas at a time, when, with the exception of the equally popular Karl May western serials, they were the only successful German film productions. There are many theories as to why these stories became so popular in 1950s and 60s Germany, from the need for extraterritorial fantasies, to the rise of the young, male moviegoer. Many fault the films for not supplying a post-war catharsis, and by doing so, avoid dealing directly with the Nazi past. However, the films did just that. By dealing with the questions of guilt and innocence in another time, and another place, readers and viewers could question the difference between petty criminals and monstrous killers, and cheer for the often less-than-spotless hero. Wallace films gave young audiences a chance to question, and perhaps ultimately understand, their parents through one of the only safe and non-confrontational means available to humankind—entertainment. By looking at a society through the lens of its popular culture, we can begin to understand the motives and feelings of this 'lost' generation of German youths, whose quest for justice would never quite be complete.