Deutsche Menschen / German People
2007, HDV, 27 minutes, colour/sound
In 1933, Walter Benjamin was forced to publish under an Aryan pseudonym, “Detlef Holz,” for the many newspaper articles, essays and other writings that he completed during the Nazi regime’s rise to power. Notably, Deutsche Menschen ("German People") comprises a selection of letters by German historical figures.
This video is a collection of fragments of time spent in conversation with people named “Detlef Holz” throughout present-day Germany, including an art dealer in Frankfurt, a retiree and Grundstuck gardner in Berlin, and an electrician in Hannover. Inquiring into their knowledge of Walter Benjamin, their family histories, varied East and West German backgrounds and current occupations, the film is a contemporary analogue to Benjamin’s own Deutsche Menschen.