Liebe Geschichte / Love History
How do women in Austria and Germany deal with their family's Nazi past? Up until now, mostly descendants of victims and survivors have looked at the after-effects of National Socialism and the Holocaust. Now, the descendants of the perpetrators, too, begin to examine the traces of this past in their lives. They look at their family's Nazi histories and investigate how this 'negative heritage', as Jean Amery has termed it, influences their thoughts and actions as well as their approaches to love and relationships.
In the film, the protagonists are shown in public spaces. Architecture from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s in Vienna are the locations for the film. They stand for the way National Socialism was dealt with in Austria and reflect the political currents during those eras. The places chosen not only make reference to historical contexts, they are also significant to the protagonists' personal lives. The impacts of their families and society on their lives are tied into the film's visual concept.
The after effects of National Socialism for the perpetrators' descendants have only rarely been the subject of a film. There is little works about the ways that women deal with their charged family history. In contrast, a considerable amount of interest has been expressed internationally, for example, there are audiences in England, Israel and the USA that are eager to discover how descendants of the perpetrators are contending with their past. Love History aims to fill this void.
Helga Hofbauer, Vienna
born in 1966, musician and computer programmer,
daughter of Franz Karl Hofbauer, "SS-Unterscharfuehrer" (corporal)
Dietlinde Polach, Vienna
born in 1943, personal secretary of the foreign correspondents at ORF, Austrian Television (retired),
daughter of Henriette Strecha, SS-guard at the concentration camp Ravensbrueck
Jeanette Toussaint, Potsdam
born in 1964, anthropologist,
daughter of a father who was a member of the "Gebirgsdivision Nord", rank unknown
Katrin Himmler, Berlin
born in 1967, political scientist,
grandniece of Heinrich Himmler, "Reichsfuehrer SS"
Patricia Reschenbach, Vienna
born in 1970, art teacher,
daughter of Johann Rzeschabek, presumably member of a SS-special-unit fighting partisans, rank unknown
Maria Pohn-Weidinger, Vienna
born in 1977, sociologist,
granddaughter of two Nazi grandmothers and presumably so called "Truemmerfrauen" (rubble women)
Lenka Reschenbach, Vienna
born in 1995,
daughter of Patricia Reschenbach
Women and their ways of confronting Nazism in the present are the pivotal points in the film. The protagonists are depicted in the urban spaces in Vienna. The presence of the public in the images appeals to the protagonists and audience to view their history and stories within a (contemporary) historical context.
The film is shot on location in Vienna before the backdrop of 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s architecture in the city. Each site represents a specific decade and reflects the state of public discussions on National Socialism during that era.
The "decade shots" are not simply settings for the protagonists. They provide a background, in a dual sense, and convey important historical data: the 1950s was a time of reconstruction, repression and denial of the Nazi crimes committed; it also stands for a reversion to repressive sexual morals. The 1960s was a time when daughters and sons criticized their Nazi parents; it was also a time of sexual liberation concepts, particularly around 1968. The 1970s was a time of national disputes around Bruno Kreisky's policies and support of reintegration of former Nazis. The 1980s stands for a time when the exposure and discussion of Kurt Waldheim's Nazi past disrupted the myth that Austria was Hitler's first victim. The 1990s was a time when Franz Vranitzky was the first chancellor of Austria who officially acknowledged Austria's active participation in National Socialism and the Holocaust. And the 2000s was a time starting with people's protests against a government including the right-wing-extremist Freedom Party, a government, however, that also stands for the realization of the long overdue restitution and compensation of Jewish survivors and their descendants.
Locations and decades
Gaensehaeufel, public pool area, 1950s
Juridicum, faculty of law, 1960s
UNO-City, UN Vienna international center, 1970s
Haas Haus, hotel and bar: 1980s
Museumsquartier, museum area, 1990s
Hauptbuecherei, public library, 2000s
Cadrage and voices
Sophie Maintigneux, the film's director of photography, introduces an almost invisible hand camera for the interview parts. In contrast, the architectural shots are steady movements. Their cadrage shows the conflict of old versus new architecture in the city of Vienna. The camera movements guide the viewer through the complexity of the buildings. At the same time they serve to introduce each decade with its specific historical data.
The historical information is provided by two off voices. Rainer Egger and Nicola Lauré al-Samarai, a male and a female voice, invite the viewers to think about gender issues and the ways gender influences the descendants' dealing with the Nazi past of their families. Additional meaning lies in the accents and colors of the voices: a German versus an Austrian accent hints to the differences in awareness and working through in these two societies.
A documentary by Klub Zwei:
Simone Bader and Jo Schmeiser
Director of photography: Sophie Maintigneux
Editor: Karin Hammer
A 2010, 35mm, 16:9, Color, Dolby Digital
Running time: 98 min.
Director of photography:
Libertad Hackl (trailer)
Nicola Lauré al-Samarai
Color correction, online:
BMUKK / Film
Otto Mauer Fonds
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
MA 57 / Frauen
MA 7 / Kultur
Stadt Graz / Kultur
Second Generation Trust London
Juridicum der Universität Wien
“Love History is a formally structured film about dealing with the Nazi past from a decidedly female perspective. This covers both the effect of a Nazi father on daughters as well as the long neglected issue of female perpetrators.” (Christine Dériaz, Schnitt De; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“In Love History daughters and granddaughters talk about the arduous process of confronting one’s own family history. The conversations are arranged around prominent Viennese post-war buildings, which serve as reminders of the official policy in Austria and its omissions.” (Dominik Kamalzadeh, Der Standard; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“Female descendants of Nazi perpetrators and followers talk about their family members and relate the stories to their own lives. In the process, the film remains in public space. Scandalous facts like the acquittal of Nazi criminals in Austria are listed more than told, while the camera is aimed at public buildings. The facts speak for themselves and do not need to be emphasized with stirring images.” (Daniela Ingruber, Diagonale; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“The extremely calm settings of this architecture, built on symmetry (filmed by Sophie Maintigneux), also convey a strange, uncanny notion of an orderly, ‘blissful,’ and ‘innocent’ Austria, which sways between socio-political attractions (Gänsehäufel swimming area), forced internationality (UNO City), and a self-defined nation of culture (Museum Quarter). The Austrian ‘economic miracle’ or its legend conceals the fact that the economic success is also a result of the exploitation of hundreds of thousands of forced laborers during National Socialism.” (Eva Simmler, Kulturrisse; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“The title articulates that memory cannot be contained. Liebe Geschichte, at first this sounds like a particularly heartfelt addressing of what once was – a reading opportunity, which is then immediately crossed out by the international title, Love History (not Dear History). The English translation comes closer to grasping the intimacy and formation of memory in mutual tension (Love – History), for instance, the ambivalence with which the deceased grandfather is remembered as both the dear grandpa and as an avid Nazi and post-war anti-Semite.” (Joachim Schätz, Kolik; Translation: Emily Lemon)
“In Love History there are many moments in which one feels terribly alone in the audience, reminded of one’s own history and origins. Why haven’t I ever asked these questions? It is the doubt, confronting the fear that part of this attitude could have been passed on or instilled, and the thoughts of these six women that make this film so extraordinary.” (Daniela Ingruber, Malmoe; Translation: Emily Lemon)