Bonus Movie (must understand German): Patronenwald

Here’s an extra post tonight, because we found it so interesting. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it is in German without subtitles.

This is an excerpt from Patronenwald (“The Forest of Cartridges”), a 1997 Documentary by Sebastian Drost. Drost discovered that the massive, sturdy building in Karlsruhe that was then being rebuilt for an art complex called “The Center for Art and Media Technology,” including museums and a school — “312 meters of archetictural history, under an order of historical preservation” — was a DWM (Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken, German Arms and Ammunition Factories) installation. From this plant over 1 billion cartridges went to the front in World War I.

In World War II, the plant had a darker history: many of the workers were forced laborers from the occupied lands of Europe. In this excerpt, two of these men remember their experiences with DWM.

You couldn’t escape. Well, you could, but where would you go? You needed papers to get housing, or food. You’d quickly get picked up. If you went missing, the authorities would come for your family. “Father, mother, brother. They’d be arrested,” says one of the men, then quickly corrects himself: “taken hostage.

One man recounts working in a subsidiary in Posen (Poznán, Poland) and in a matter of days after the plant was bombed out, he was working in the Karlsruhe plant — “Right over there!” on the same machine.

It made us want to see the whole film. It’s a little bit disappointing that there’s no period film of the processes in the plant, at least not in this excerpt. Given the German fondness for documenting everything in great depth — the excerpt begins with a long walk through what feels like miles of archives — you know the footage exists somewhere.

3 thoughts on “Bonus Movie (must understand German): Patronenwald

  1. Y.

    Any idea where to get the full document?

    I can about understand the German, if I listen to everything twice and sometimes look some word up..

    1. Hognose Post author

      Looks like it’s available from the museum gift shop for ~€15 or so… of course there’s “auslandsporto” and for me, I don’t have a multizone DVD player.

      They wryly comment that the two forced laborers “won’t have a street named after them.” The street, Wilhem-Lorenz-Strasse, is named after this guy:

      He was an industrialist associated with DWM and Daimler. I wonder if they mistook him for the Wehrmacht general of the same name (killed at Demyansk).

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