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Trümmerfilm (English: Rubble film) was an aesthetic choice for those films made directly after World War II dealing with the impact of the battles in the countries at the center of the war. The style was mostly used by filmmakers in the rebuilding film industries of Eastern Europe, Italy and the former Nazi Germany. The style is characterized by its use of location exteriors among the "rubble" of bombed-down cities to bring the gritty, depressing reality of the lives of the civilian survivors in those early years.[1]

Notable films[edit]


Topics of the Rubble film[edit]

  • Problems of returning soldiers.
  • The poverty, suffering and distress in post-war Germany.
  • Stunde Null
  • Confrontation with the past, particularly with issues of collective guilt.
  • Crime and Punishment.
  • War damage and war losses.
  • Life among the rubble.
  • Reconstruction

The Rubble aesthetic[edit]

The desolation left as a consequence of the bombing that Germany endured before the end of World War II left the major German cities in shambles. However, unlike other cities, Berlin's structures had steel frames. This enabled many of them to remain standing, despite the bombings. This left jagged figures on the landscape, as well as a lot of rubble on the ground. Often, directors would have either horizontal or vertical shots of the rubble from a low angle.[3] The Murderers are Among Us begins with a ground shot facing upwards showing a Berlin street, complete with piles of rubble, and destroyed buildings. The viewer sees several children running around, and the protagonist ambling up the street. The viewer also sees German citizens working together to clean up, and getting on with their lives, despite the devastation. It has been argued by Gertrud Koch that, aside from the expressionist and neorealistic qualities of the Rubble Film, a major purpose of these films was to re-envigorate the German people, and instill a work ethic that would facilitate the reconstruction of Germany.[4]


In the year after the war ended, no films were made. This one-year period is referred to as the Filmpause, and is due in large part to the destruction or seizure of Germany's film studios, as well as artistic uncertainty. Furthermore, people had little interest in seeing films, much less the facilities with which to do so.[5] This uncertainty was caused by Hitler's delegitimization of conventional filmmaking practices, which forced filmmakers to reinvent their filmography methods, and film content.[6] It would not be until Wolfgang Staudte released Die Mörder sind unter uns in 1946 that German Cinema began to further develop.


Originally, the name "rubble film" held negative connotation. These films were seen as a symbol of defeat and desolation. They symbolized the control that the German Nazis had over the German people, as well as the success of the Allies in destroying their country. Instead of offering a nostalgic attachment to what Germany was, it simply was a mark of trauma and despair. The German identity had been stripped by the Nazi party, and they felt that these films did little more than re-affirm the horrors that Germany suffered.[7]


  1. ^ a b Shandley, Robert R. (2001). Rubble films: German cinema in the shadow of the Third Reich. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. ISBN 1566398770. 
  2. ^ Muller, Sabine (2012-10). "Narration, Rubble Film, and Narratability: Helmut Kautner's In Jenen Tagen". Modern Language Review. Retrieved 2014-04-09.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Rubble in the Trümmerfilm>"New German Critique 110". 37. Duke University, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Summer 2010: 9. 
  4. ^ The Place of Rubble in the Trummerfilm>Eric Rentschler. "The Place of Rubble in the Trümmerfilm". Harvard University. p. 3. 
  5. ^ Rubble in the Trümmerfilm>"New German Critique 110". 37. Duke University, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Summer 2010: 10. 
  6. ^ Baer, Hester (2009). DISMANTLING THE DREAM FACTORY Gender, German Cinema, and the Postwar Quest for a New Film Language. Berghan Books. ISBN 9780857456175. 
  7. ^ Rubble, Ruins and RomanticismMoeller, Martina. Rubble, Ruins and Romanticism: Visual Style, Narration and Identity in German Post-War Cinema. transcript Verlag, 2014. pp. 13, 14. ISBN 3839421837.