Alfred Bauer with Sophia Loren
Alfred Bauer with Sophia Loren

The Berlin International Film Festival has officially suspended the Silver Bear – Alfred Bauer Prize, after published reports that Alfred Bauer, after whom the award is named, was an active high-ranking Nazi. The management of the Berlinale has now commissioned the “Institute for Contemporary History” to academically research the context of Alfred Bauer’s function during the Nazi era. For the 70th anniversary of the festival, the Berlinale 2020 will award a special prize: The Silver Bear – 70th Berlinale.

As reported by Guardian, Bauer’s controversial past was revealed in an article in Die Zeit, which uncovered historical research suggesting that Bauer was both a member of the Nazi party and a member of the SA, the Nazis’ pre-war paramilitary wing. Bauer also appeared to be a key part of Goebbels’ Reichsfilmintendanz, a body established by the propaganda ministry in 1942 to control the cinema industry.

He was appointed as the first director of the Berlinale in 1951, holding the position until his retirement in 1976.

In a press release issued today, the festival said,

In response to the recently published sources on the role of Alfred Bauer, the first director of the Berlin International Film Festival, in National Socialist film politics, the Berlinale has suspended the Silver Bear – Alfred Bauer Prize with immediate effect. Current newspaper reports suggest that Alfred Bauer had played a previously unknown role in the Nazi film bureaucracy. Therefore, the Berlinale management has also decided to obtain external expertise on the history of the festival in the context of Alfred Bauer’s function during the Nazi era.

In this respect, the management of the Berlinale has conducted talks with various research institutions and has now commissioned the “Institute for Contemporary History” (IfZ). The IfZ was founded in 1949 to academically research the National Socialist dictatorship.

“We are convinced that an external and independent group of historians should investigate Alfred Bauer’s position in the Nazi regime. Moreover, we also agree on this with the Deutsche Kinemathek, which supports this approach. Accordingly, we are pleased that the IfZ can now initiate the necessary research work”, says Berlinale Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek.

The results of the IfZ assessment are expected in this coming summer.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the festival, the Berlinale 2020 will award a special prize: The Silver Bear – 70th Berlinale. It will similarly be awarded by the International Jury.

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