Berlin Film Festival today confirmed that founding director Alfred Bauer, after whom the Silver Bear – Alfred Bauer Prize award was named, did play a role in the Reichsfilmintendanz which was more significant than previously known and was systematically covered up by him after 1945. Reichsfilmintendanz was the central institution for controlling film production in the Nazi regime.
Earlier this year, Berlin International Film Festival 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 commissioned the “Institute for Contemporary History” to academically research the context of Alfred Bauer’s function during the Nazi era.
See the full statement below,
The study confirms that Bauer’s role in the Reichsfilmintendanz was more significant than previously known and was systematically covered up by him after 1945.
In February of 2020, the management of the Berlin International Film Festival commissioned the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) to investigate Alfred Bauer’s position in the Nazi film bureaucracy. The occasion was the media publication of sources that re-examined Bauer’s role and tasks in the Reichsfilmintendanz (the steering body of National Socialist film policy).
The Reichsfilmintendanz was created by decree of Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, dated February 28, 1942, and was the central institution for controlling film production in the Nazi regime. Alfred Bauer was advisor to the Reichsfilmintendant. After the end of the war he continued his career in the German film industry. And in 1951, he became the first director of the newly-founded Berlin International Film Festival; he held this position until 1976.
The study commissioned by the IfZ (Summary, PDF) and conducted by PD Dr. Tobias Hof shows that Alfred Bauer must have been aware of the important role of the Reichsfilmintendanz in the propaganda apparatus of the Nazi regime. His employment in the Reichsfilmintendanz contributed to the functioning, stabilisation and legitimation of the Nazi regime. Bauer also joined various National Socialist organisations early on (from 1933) and became a member of the NSDAP in 1937.
Additionally, the study reveals that during his denazification process (1945-1947), Bauer tried to conceal his role in the Nazi regime through deliberately false statements, half-truths and claims and instead constructed an image with which he presented himself as an opponent of the Nazi regime.
“The new and now scientifically researched findings about Alfred Bauer’s responsibilities in the Reichsfilmintendanz and his behaviour in the denazification process are startling. Nevertheless, they constitute an important element in the process of dealing with the Nazi past of cultural institutions which were founded after 1945. The question, therefore, arises as to which personnel-oriented continuities shaped the German cultural scene in the post-war years. The new knowledge also changes the view of the founding years of the Berlinale,” says Berlinale Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek. “The IfZ study also indicates that there are still numerous research gaps in the historical analysis of the post-war film industry.”