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Winfried Bonengel • Director

Genesis of a NeoNazi


- A conversation with the cast and director of Führer Ex (in competition), the dramatic story of a young East German man’s allegiance to an Extreme Right organisation

Winfried Bonengel • Director

Winfried Bonegel avoids falling into the trap of sentimentalism in her latest film, Führer Ex [+see also:
film profile
, the story of two young anarchists living in East Berlin at the end of the 1980s. It is based on the life of Ingo Hasselbach, a former Neonazi and a founder-member of a right-wing organisation called EXIT. This film was also a logical progression to Winfried Bonengel’s documentary entitled Profession: Neonazi and the book she and Hasselback wrote together, “"Die Abrechnung" (“Führer Ex”). It is a story that is common to many people, and emblematic of one of the darkest pages in recent European and world history.
“When I met Ingo Hasselbach, I discovered that he was nothing like the stereotypical Neonazi I had imagined him to be,” said Bonegel. “As he told me his life story, I gradually discovered a sensitive man. I wanted this film to show just how a seemingly normal young man, whose only thoughts were how to escape an oppressive totalitarian regime and get a better life, ended up a fully-fledged Neonazi. I wanted to find an answer to a question that intrigues many people, unfortunately, most of them do not go beyond labelling people like Hasselbach as "monsters" and leaving it at that."
Hasselbach himself takes up the story, “ This is a story of personal tragedy: the disorientation, and humiliating violence that drove people to join extreme right-wing organisations. The question is, can they free themselves of all these feelings of hatred as I fortunately did?”
The film closes on an optimistic note that encourages the audience to believe that it really is possible to forget the past. “The truth is that you can never forget the past,” explains Hasselbach. “You can live with it and elaborate extreme experiences that will always remain deep inside you. I spent three years in jail, a part of my youth that I will always carry around with me.” Does he blame an ideology that fell together with the Berlin Wall? “No, I am talking about a phenomenon that involves all the world. Our young people today need space, something to do and hope in the future.”
The two protagonists of this film are Christian Bluemel and Aaron Hildebrand (whp was born in East Berlin in 1980). “We don’t discuss the Neonazi phenomenon,” explains Aaron. “There is a sort of resignation about it. I live in the suburbs and have often met with young people like the ones we play in the film.”
“We tried to make a documentary for Germany's second TV channel but were banned from naming the city in question and were attacked by almost everyone.” There is another reason why this film should receive the widest possible distribution. It is a true reflection of contemporary reality where thousands of young people continue to join extreme right-wing radical movements preaching xenophobia and violence. Phenomena which regretfully have taken root and are flourishing amongst large numbers of Europe’s youth.

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The organisation’s web site is EXIT

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