Essay: Germans, Post World War

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[. . .] This is largely due to the fact that they managed to overcome suffering associated with these respective events and simply came to consider that traumas are nothing else but old wounds. "Mostly, however, the stories have grown over the open wound like a second skin." (Schwab)

Strictness as 'the key to success'

Severity has always been perceived as a key element that can improve a person's life. Many have focused on being strict in hope that this is going to reflect positively on their development and on their likeliness to achieve their objectives. Haneke's film relates to this idea and builds on it in order to emphasize the destructive effects that being strict can have on an individual and on a community as a whole.

The community in the fictional town of 'Eichwalde' puts across exemplary behavior when considering socially-acceptable ideas during the early twentieth century. Most individuals in the community seem dedicated to improving it and appear to be willing to do everything in their power in order to do so. While their commitment is impressive, the techniques they use are obviously focused on ideas related to strictness.

The puritanical pastor is unhesitant about devising malicious methods of teaching children with regard to the difference between right and wrong (as seen from the perspective of a person living during early twentieth century's Germany). As a consequence, these children are practically left with the impression that it would only be right for them to coerce someone in behaving in a certain way by using extreme force. Strictness was thus promoted as one of the most effective tools to achieve success in one's endeavor during the period.

To a certain degree, Haneke's film is meant to speak about more than just the Holocaust and the Second World War. It is intended to promote peaceful attitudes as the key to making the world better. The motion picture practically brings on the idea that strictness and repression can have catastrophic consequences. These two values can lead to something as the Second World War, as it would have been probable that the conflict would not have happened if people during the early twentieth century were to concentrate on peaceful ideas rather than to express interest in achieving success through forcing others to act in accordance with their wishes.

Shame

Shame is one of the most important ideas in Haneke's film. It is actually probable that the film was made in an attempt to emphasize that the factors behind the Second World War are much more complex than they might seem. The German public today often comes across ideas associated with guilt, as even though most of the community has not even lived during the war, it is difficult for the rest of the world to refrain from thinking about Nazi-related stereotypes when coming across a German individual.

Many find it odd to refer to the German people as a community who suffered as a result of the Holocaust, taking into account that most discussions regarding the matter involve Jewish individuals and their suffering. "In contrast to the plethora of the studies of the trauma of Holocaust victims, analyses of the long-term effects of violent histories on perpetrators and perpetrating nations are rare." (Schwab) Haneke's film itself can be considered to be an attempt to emphasize the fact that German people actually experience feelings of shame even though they did not actually take place in the Holocaust or the war.

As Germans who were either too young to take part in the conflict or who were not even born before the war ended try to find their cultural and personal identities, they often realize that it would be impossible for them to ignore their past. Haneke's film makes it possible for someone to understand that by addressing one's fears the respective person is more likely to overcome them. The director concentrated on portraying characters that were persecuted and that were not providing with the ability to actually distinguish between right and wrong. These people were practically taught that force is the most efficient method of achieving one's goals.

Individuals in Germany virtually inherited the shame from their predecessors and the fact that they were not involved in the conflict does not exempt them from being associated with the war and the Holocaust. Moreover, the fact that these people know how their predecessors turned a blind eye to the suffering that the Nazi system was causing makes it difficult for them to believe that they have nothing to do with their country's history.

Fascism

The pastor in the film is one of the most authoritarian characters and his behavior is downright absurd when regarding matters from the perspective of someone living in the contemporary society. However, the fact that religion was an extremely important concept in Germany during the early twentieth century shows how the townspeople were hesitant about questioning the pastor with regard to his actions. The pastor's conflict with the schoolteacher further complicates things, as it becomes clear that a 'normal' person had no place in society during the era and that individuals simply had to act in agreement with laws that society imposed on them.

While the film itself does not contain direct references to national socialism, fascism, or the Second World War, there are a series of elements that, if interpreted, can make some viewers feel that Haneke was, actually, interested in linking the film to the conflict. The name of the fictional village, Eichwalde, can be interpreted from a perspective involving Nazi camps during the war and their leaders. The name is possibly a combination of Adolf Eichmann (one of the persons who played a great role in making the Holocaust happen) and the Buchenwald camp.

As previously mentioned, Haneke most probably wanted the film to address a more complex topic. Even though he makes several references to the events about to unfold in the pages of history, the fact that he concentrates more on the idea of evil means that he wants people in general to acknowledge something. He does not want to speak solely about Germans, National Socialism, or religious ideas that were responsible for great persecution throughout time. Instead, Haneke focuses on evil as a concept that is enough by itself, as it apparently does not need a context to occur in so as for others to be influenced and get actively involved in performing evil deeds themselves.

Haneke's rebellious children

Viewers gradually come to realize that the series of unexplained events in the film are the result of the children in the village rebelling against established authority. While might seem a rather insignificant event, it is actually meant to stand as a reference with regard to the effects that harsh authoritarian attitudes can have on people. One of the intriguing things about this is that the children are not solely interested in harming people who hurt them, as they start to express a general need to harm others. The film is thus intended to have viewers learn how evil can lead to even more evil and that this can happen randomly.

It is not that Haneke wanted to excuse individuals in Nazi Germany as a result of their involvement in the war. Instead, he wanted to prove that in spite of how horrible some events might seem one should always look in the past in order to get a more complex understanding concerning these respective things. The fact that children take protest to a whole new level by installing a mass-system of terror further promotes the belief that they are actually interested in using force as a tool to improve their condition. They practically learned that the best solution for them to feel better would be to persecute others. Persecution came to be considered equivalent to power and equivalent to increased self-esteem. The children thus acted on account of their interest in wanting to upgrade their social status. The fact that they harmed others with the purpose of expressing their point-of-view seemed insignificant in comparison to their goal.

Conclusion

Haneke's film brings on a series of theories and some of them might seem disturbing for some. Similar to how many Germans in the present are hesitant about accepting the fact that their predecessors took part in one of the most horrible conflicts in the history of mankind, many individuals in general are hesitant about accepting that they have anything to do with the conflict on the grounds that they too are human.

The reality is that humanity as a whole is to blame for events such as the Holocaust and the Second World War. All actions, regardless of how horrible they are, can be traced to a series of events that occurred in the past and that played an important role in getting seemingly normal individuals to commit acts that are against everything that the contemporary society stands for. The film actually demonstrates that matters are more complex than some might be inclined to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Germans, Post World War.  (2013, October 31).  Retrieved April 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/germans-post-world-war-2/3206446

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"Germans, Post World War."  Essaytown.com.  October 31, 2013.  Accessed April 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/germans-post-world-war-2/3206446.