The Murderers Are Among Us (Die Mörder sind unter uns)
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When Susanne returns to Berlin after her release from a concentration camp, she discovers the ex-army doctor Hans squatting in her war-ravaged apartment. The pair become roommates, then Hans encounters his former commander, who was responsible for the wartmine slaughter of a hundred Polish prisoners of war. Hans and Susanne find themselves falling in love, but at the same time he plots to avenge the mass murder.
The only film in our series to come from Soviet-controlled East Germany, Wolfgang Staudte’s ‘The Murderers Are Among Us’ is a very early example of the “Trümmerfilm”, which arose in European cinema immediately after World War II – the term translates to “rubble film” and is a reflection of the state of the bombed-out cities of the Axis countries that features as the backdrop for stories of post-war hardship, both psychological and practical.
After war’s end, the lawlessness and terrors that had characterised the conflict did not cease, with acts of vigilantism to exact retribution becoming all too common. Perceived war crimes and betrayals and were punished by individual civilians, outside the rule of law. Acknowledging the unthinkable horrors that took place at the hands of the Nazis and the profound psychological scars they wrought, ‘Murderers’ pleads for a return to ordered justice, suggesting it as the only path to peace for a deeply wounded world.