Soundtrack to the documentary film "Bruderkrieg" by Julian and Felix Moser. Watch it at www.bruderkrieg.com
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Can we learn from history? How does cultural memory work? For which reason do we commemorate? – These questions were asked by the protagonists in this short-documentary.
Monuments, memorial days and celebrations are all representations of collective memory culture. This collective memory can be selective, ignored or rewritten. After WWI but especially after WWII a prussian or national socialist heroism lost ground to a pacifist war commemoration. A soldier doesn’t die as a hero for his country; he is more of a victim of war. In the recently built Forest of Remembrance in Potsdam near Berlin, the german military’s central space of commemoration, they commemorate the “military members who lost their lifes in duty and during regular service”. The lost heroism is still present in public space through monuments which sometimes draws an unwanted contrast of staging like in one scene of the film. Influenced by Post-Nationalism and the european idea, german politicians nowadays commemorate the deaths on both sides.
The documentary is a view on identity, tradition and commemoration in Germany in the summer 2016. It was shot throughout the commemoration ceremony "150 years of Austro-Prussian War" in Bavaria. Beside snapshots of remembrance it shows the local politicians thoughts about recent developments like growing populism, nationalism and terrorism in Europe. A week before the event two terrorist attacks happened in the near cities of Ansbach and Würzburg.
Driven by the Industrial Revolution and influenced by ideas of the French Revolution, the era of the late 1840s to the late 1870s were shaped by national wars of unification or civil wars in Europe and the Americas. War played a key role in the reorganization of nations and empires like the German Wars of Unification 1864-1871, the American Civil War, the Triple-Alliance-War as the bloodiest conflict of Latin America or the Italian Independence Wars with Garribaldis famous “Expedition of the Thousand”.
The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 also called War of Brothers Since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the German states belonged to the German Confederation and shaped essentially after the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. It was discussed whether Austria could belong to a new German federal state often labeled with the term 'Greater Germany'. After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 also called the “War of Brothers”, the 'Lesser Germany', a federal state under leadership of Prussia and without Austria, was created. After that, the term lost its significance because since then 'Germany' is usually identified as this Lesser Germany. The southern German territories lost the war and their alliance with Austria to Prussia.
The term “War of Brothers” just makes sense from nowadays perspective. Back then Prussian soldiers were just invaders and enemies for the Bavarians. The Prussian realist writer Theodor Fontane, who traveled with the troops on their march, reports a scene from a skirmish in one of the famous Health Ressorts of Bad Kissingen. A Bavarian ranger, attacked by Prussian infantry, had entrenched himself in one of the hotel rooms: “Take pardon” the Prushians yelled to him; “I don’t want Prussian pardon”, he yelled, went on with the bayonet and was bashed. His valiance had compelled the respect of his enemies.
The Prussian victory over Austria and allied Bavaria can also be seen as a final victory of Protestantism over Catholicism. This “Lesser Germany” became not just more Prussian, it became more protestant as well. In the parish of Eisingen the peace treaty with Bavarian troops was signed by Prussian General Manteuffel. There in the hall of the Neo-Romanesque St. Nicholas Church hangs a quire arch cross, carved by the master Tilman Riemenschneider in 1500 AC. The introverted glance of his figures was often interpreted as a hint of trouble and an aura of Luthers upcoming Protestantism. Back then during the German Peasant’s War, Riemenschneider, as one of the council members, stood up against church and nobility wherefore he ended up in the city’s dungeon.