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WHO IS AFRAID OF HITLER’S TOWN? 

A house and the past within us

Directed by GÜNTER SCHWAIGER – 99 min., 5.1., 4K, Austria 2023

“Politically explosive”, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – INT. FILM FESTIVAL FREISTADT / AUSTRIA
  • WINNER HANS VOGT FILM AWARD  – INT. FILM FESTIVAL HOF / GERMANY
  • FRANZ-GRABNER-AWARD 2024 –  DIAGONALE FF / AUSTRIA
  • Nominated for the AUSTRIAN FILM ACADEMY AWARDS:                            BEST DOCUMENTARY + BEST SOUND

 

Press Contact:

Elisabeth Katzensteiner (Agentur Wolkenlos).                          elisabeth@wolkenlos-agentur.at     Tel: +43 664 128 3063

Synopsis

Why has no film ever been made in Austria about Hitler’s birthplace and house? This was the question director Günter Schwaiger asked himself when he began work on this film in 2018. Shortly before, the house had been expropriated by the Republic of Austria. For five years, the director accompanied the exciting developments surrounding the subsequent use of Hitler’s birthplace with a very personal view. From questioning the cliché of the “Nazi city” to surprising and outrageous discoveries, his path ultimately leads him into his own family history.

FILM PREMIERE TOUR

It started on August 23rd as the opening film at the Int. Film Festival in Freistadt/Upper Austria. A wonderful evening with an absolutely sold out open air event. Later the great joy about the audience award at the festival. On August 29th we continued with the Open Air Screening directly in front of the Hitlerhaus in Braunau. Over 170 people in pouring rain! Nobody stood up – applause, laughter, tears…An incredibly emotional experience! The Braunau audience was thrilled! On September 1st the Austrian cinema start in Braunau with a full house. Then Innsbruck, Wels, Vienna, St. Pölten, Graz, Baden, Linz, Lenzing, Lambach, Krems, Villach, Klagenfurt, Steyr, Schwanenstadt, Katsdorf, Grein…

Since then 26 film talks in 27 days on our journey through all of Austria – a wonderful experience with a lot of enthusiasm of the audience and many exciting conversations.

At the same time interviews with domestic and foreign media. From Austria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, USA, Israel to Japan. Everywhere was and is reported about our film. You can find the links on the film page and also on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to all the people who were there and to all the great supporters!!

The film has reignited the debate about the house.

The Friends of Yad Vashem and Discourse Hitler House announced a new proposal for Hitler House on 9/13-23 – the exhibition of Austrian “Righteous” should come to Hitler House. At the same time a new historian debate has arisen in the media. Historians like Dirk Rupnow , Monika Sommer and Ernst Langthaler have spoken out in the media and severely criticized the Interior Ministry’s handling of the after-use.

WATCH TRAILER:

Credits

Directed: Günter Schwaiger
Script: Günter Schwaiger, Julia Mitterlehner
Camera: Günter Schwaiger
Editing: Günter Schwaiger, Martin Eller
Sound: Stefan Rosensprung, Julia Mitterlehner
Line Producer: Julia Mitterlehner

Producer: Julia Mitterlehner, Günter Schwaiger
Producution:  DIM DIM FILM OG (Austria)

Supported by: Österreichisches Filminstitut, FISA Filmstandort Österreich, Land Oberösterreich, Land Salzburg, Österreichischer Zukunftsfonds

FESTIVALS

 

 

  • Freistadt Int. Film Festival        (Aug. 2023, Austria)
  • Hof Int. Film Festival                   (Oct. 2023, Germany)
  • Radstadt Int. Film Festival      (Nov. 2023, Austria)
  • Jewish Filmdays Innsbruck      (Nov. 2023, Austria)
  • Jerusalem Jewish Filmfestival (Dec. 2023, Israel)
  • Austrian Film Week Israel (Feb 2024, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa)
 

Awards

  • Audience Award – Freistadt International Film Festival, Austria, Aug. 2023,
  • Hans Vogt Filmpreis – Hof International Festival, Germany, Oct. 2023
  • Opening Film – Radstadt Film Festival, Austria, Nov. 2023
  • Franz-Grabner-Award 2024 – Diagonale Film Festival, Austria, Abril 2024
  • Nominated for the Austrian Film Academy Awards 2024: Best Documentary + Best Sound Design

Director`s Statement

“We are living in the shadow of the past…”

Aleida Assmann

Actually, I wanted to accompany an exciting re-polling process on film: I had learned that the social institution Lebenshilfe (Live Aid) was planning to take over the house where Adolf Hitler was born. In my first film shot in Austria, I saw an opportunity to show how much progress my country had made in the process of coming to terms with National Socialism. But things turned out quite differently, and what was originally a simple project became a multi-layered, long-term documentary film that took five years to shoot.
Apart from the fact that it is the first feature film ever to be dedicated to the subject of “Adolf Hitler’s birthplace”, WER HAT ANGST VOR BRAUNAU? (WHO IS AFRAID OF HITLER’S TOWN?) is structurally based on three different basic dramaturgical ideas that correspond to the three phases that the five-year shoot went through: First, an almost classic documentary phase, in which I portrayed the stigmatized city and the positive conversion process; a second investigative phase, in which I examined the background that had led to the polemical change of mind regarding reuse; and finally, due to the stagnation of the conversion process, the development into a personal essay film, which led to an examination of memory culture and family memory. During this long process of development, it gradually became clear to me that the stigmatization of Hitler’s birthplace as a “brown city” and the institutional treatment of the birthplace ultimately results in an arguably undesirable but nevertheless apt metaphor for the failure to come to terms with our Austrian history of perpetrators and fellow travelers. For even though much has been done in our country in recent years for the victims of Nazi terror, there is no real coming to terms with our history of perpetrators. I do not mean the Nazi celebrities or the perpetrators of the extermination process. I am referring to the fact that the majority of us in Austria are descended from perpetrators, followers and sympathizers or those who were brought up in the Nazi state, and not from victims. Instead of looking into one’s own family history, the guilty are always sought and found outside. Thus Braunau undeservedly becomes a “brown (nazi) town” and is found guilty in the process. Thus an old house, in which the baby Adolf spent only a few months, is elevated to the status of the

“birthplace of evil,” from which a new façade is supposed to remove its poisonous attraction. I call this mechanism of displacement the stoked “fear of Braunau”. It is convenient, serves emotions and prejudices, and has as its object a small town that can hardly defend itself against it.

However, this artificial fear does not help me as an Austrian. Quite the opposite. I no longer believe in an institutionally controlled view of history. For too long it has obscured the view of the true involvement of our ancestors in the Nazi regime. We must finally discover our history for ourselves and take on the responsibility that the people of Braunau, despite decades of experience, are not believed to have with regard to Hitler’s birthplace. Working on this film, I discovered for myself that a dialogue with one’s own family history, freed from external paternalism, can give hope and relief. Because it answers to questions and thereby makes orientation possible. Hidden in it is a great opportunity to make up on a small scale for what has been neglected on a large scale. That’s why I don’t see the film, despite all its intensity, as an indictment or a reckoning with the Austrians’ coming to terms with the perpetrators, but rather as an invitation to reflection that might do us all some good. What are we afraid of when we look back? What was our own family like during the Nazi era? What of it is still in us today? How can we come to terms with our family history of perpetrators and fellow travelers without always having to hide behind new facades? What can we learn from those few who acted differently and offered resistance?

A thorough reappraisal of history can never take place only on the surface and with clichéd projections. Nor should it be merely scientific, neither should it be directed from above nor replaced by symbols. Coming to terms with history means, above all, talking and listening.

Günter Schwaiger