Radio Plays about the Crimes of the NSU: Part III – From the Victims’ Perspective

In the last installment of the three-part series on the NSU trial, guest columnist Monika Preuß focuses on the personal narratives of the victims of crimes committed by NSU members. You can read this post in the original German here

The first installment of the series, an introduction to the NSU trials and the major radio plays on the topic, is available in English and German. The second installment on the creative use of polyphonic narrative structures in radio plays is also published in English and German.

„Vergesst mich nicht“ (“Don’t Forget Me,” 2016) is based on the ARD docudrama trilogy „Die Opfer – Vergesst mich nicht“ (“The Victim – Don’t Forget Me”) and the book Schmerzliche Heimat: Deutschland und der Mord an meinem Vater (Painful Homeland: Germany and the Murder of My Father) by Semiya Şimşek und Peter Schwarz. Şimşek, then fourteen years old, was sent to a boarding school by her father Enver Şimşek. On the next day Enver Şimşek is found dead, murdered by NSU members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt. The police initially interrogated Semiya Şimşek and put her family under supervision, and only much later did the xenophobic, far-right character of the crime come to the fore. The initial interrogation created immense emotional burden on the Şimşek family. By recounting an intimate, personal story rather than adopting a detached stance as previous radio plays on the NSU trial has done, “Vergesst mich nicht” highlights the disastrous impact of the murder and the traumatic experience of victimization.

Tuğsal Moğul’s „Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern“ (“Among the Victims Are Also Germans,” 2017) is an adaptation of a theatrical play by the same name. The opening sequence of the play names the victims of crimes committed by the far-right (cf. 01:27ff.; this includes not only victims of the NSU murders but also other hate crimes such as arson attacks on refugees’ asylums), demonstrating that all parts of society are subject to such violence. The radio play focuses on the racial prejudices that came into play both during police interrogation and in the media. Moğul creatively employs genre conventions of fairy tales (cf. 21:27ff.) and rap (cf. 24:55) to expose the absurdity of the mistakes made by the police (new police recruits were sometimes responsible for compiling evidence for the trial) and the scandalous clandestine collaboration between the Verfassungsschutz and right-wing extremists (See more about this in Part II of this series). 

„Blumen für Otello. Über die Verbrechen von Jena“ (“Flowers for Otello: On the Crimes in Jena,” Deutschlandradio, 2014) by Esther Dischereit is an adaption of the novel Blumen für Otello – Über die Verbrechen von Jena: Klagelieder (Flowers for Otello On the Crimes in Jena: Dirges) and was nominated for the German Radio Prize by the ARD. Through a quiet but thought-provoking form of storytelling, the radio play weaves the background stories of the victims and the perpetrators together into a masterful piece of art.

In Maja Das Gupta’s „Weil Deutschland doch ein Rechtsstaat ist“ (“Since Germany Is Still a Constitutional State,” 2016), a student (Amide) writes a blog post on racism in the daily work of the police. She visits the court proceedings and speaks with Marc, a young police officer. This radio play differs from other approaches in that it combines reflective dialogues with a crime story. Amide, her friend Andrea, and Marc decide to steal documents from the police office, but the play does not reveal what happens next. Such a strategy creates suspense for an unpredictable and perilous outcome, an open ending.

References

Das Gupta, Maja: Weil Deutschland doch ein Rechtsstaat ist. Südwestrundfunk 2016. The manuscript is available at: https://www.swr.de/swr2/programm/broadcastcontrib-swr-20642.html.

Dischereit, Esther: Blumen für Otello. Über die Verbrechen von Jena. Deutschlandradio 2014. Available at: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/hoerspielszenen-zu-den-nsu-morden-blumen-fuer-otello.3684.de.html?dram:article_id=453381

Dischereit, Esther: Blumen für Otello. Über die Verbrechen von Jena. Klagelieder. Zürich 2014.

Moğul, Tuğsal: Auch Deutsche unter den Opfern. Westdeutscher Rundfunk 2017. Available at:  https://www.radio-today.de/hoerspiel-download.php?Seite=7&Play=6104&Hoerspiel=Auch+Deutsche+unter+den+Opfern

Şimşek, Semiya: Vergesst mich nicht. Norddeutscher Rundfunk/ Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg 2016. A part of the radio play is available at : https://www.srf.ch/audio/hoerspiel/vergesst-mich-nicht-nach-dem-drehbuch-von-laila-stieler?id=11262534

Şimşek, Semiya/ Schwarz, Peter: Schmerzliche Heimat. Deutschland und der Mord an meinem Vater. Berlin 2013.

Die Opfer – Vergesst mich nicht (feature about the film): https://www.goldenekamera.de/tv/article215165483/Featurette-zur-Mitten-in-Deutschland-NSU-Episode-Die-Opfer-Vergesst-mich-nicht-2016.html

About Qingyang Freya Zhou

Qingyang Zhou (Freya) is a PhD candidate in German Studies at UC Berkeley. She researches on the intersections of German-Asian cultures, particularly as they pertain to the cinematic entanglements among Germany, China, and Korea.
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