‘Nazi Bride’ Jailed & German History X

The overlapping debates concerning Nazism and neo-Nazism on screen were played out in 1997 when Roberto Benigni was awarded a best actor Oscar for Life Is Beautiful (Roberto Benigni, 1997), set in a concentration camp, and in the same year Ed Norton was nominated for playing the redeemed neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard in American History X (Tony Kaye, 1997). Norton took control of the film, and a battle commenced with Kaye filing a $200 million lawsuit to have his name changed to Humpty Dumpty on the credits.

Named in the global market after the Norton film, Netflix’s NSU German History X examines the rise and fall of Nationalist Socialist Underground (NSU), a real neo-Nazi terrorist group in Germany. NSU was responsible for a series of crimes, including: killing eight Turkish German citizens and one Greek immigrant between 2000 and 2006; murdering a policewoman and attempting to kill her colleague; and the 2001 and 2004 Cologne bombings; plus 14 bank robberies.

In July 2018 Beate Zschäpe (played in the series by Anna Maria Mühe) was found guilty of killing nine people, and jailed by a Munich court for at least 15 years. She had been been committed to trial in January 2013, remaining silent until December 2015 when she claimed she was not a member of NSU, she just knew them. Both of her loves in the group killed themselves in 2011. As The Times reports July 12 2018, the police investigating the murders overlooked far-right terrorism.

As I explain in Nazism and Neo-Nazism in Film and Media (Lee 2018: 66-67), over the entire period NUS were operational there was a shift to the far right across Europe, with an increase in racist attacks. Right-wing groups were protected by the centre, and allowed to carry out their atrocities, with the police blaming the very groups who were being murdered.

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