feature length film

STARBUCK - HOLGER MEINS

A documantary film by / Ein Dokumentarfilm von Gerd Conradt, Hartmut Jahn
2001 35mm 85 Minuten

STARBUCK - HOLGER MEINS

THE TEAM

Director: Gerd Conradt
Script: Gerd Conradt and Hartmut Jahn

DoP: Armin Fausten, Hans Rombach, Steffen Grossmann, Phillip Virus

Sound: Oliver Lumpe, Stefan Gohlke, Ilja Müller Klug, Niklas Müller, Roswitha Ziegler

Team 1975: Gerd Conradt, Renate Sami, Alberto Griffi

Team 1982: Gerd Conradt, Hartmut Jahn, Bruno Demattio, Tom Preis

Cutter: Nelia Ibeh
Graphics: Arndt Hochstetter, Annette Forsch
Photographer: Robert Schröder

Composer: Lars Löhn
Cello: Tobias Wethake
Sound Mixer: Loop-o

Production Manager NDR: Viola von Liebieg
TV-Editor NDR: Barbara Denz
Production Manager: Axel Bohse
Production Assistants: Pascale Pretzsch, Yvonne Brandl

A Hartmut Jahn Film Produktion Hanvover/Berlin

This film received financial support from:

the NDR Film Funds in Lower Saxony, Germany
the Berlin-Brandenburg Film Board and
the MEDIA Programme of the European Union

The following all helped by allowing archive material to be used:
NDR Archive, Studio Hamburg Television Alliance
German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB)
Government Director Kohlhaas, Wittlich Prison
Public Prosecutor Roos, Trier

With thanks to:
Hans-Christian Ströbele, Claudia von Alemann, Regine Dermitzel, Christine Schily, Dagmar Jacobsen, Anette Eckert, Urs Cordua, Daniela Schulz, Veit-Lup, Dagmar Benke

Thanks also to the 'action group starbuck – berlin film students’ faction 2001'
for the reconstructed version of the film "Making a Molotov Cocktail" by Holger Meins

EN

Starbuck, that is the helmsman of the Pequod in Melville’s novel Moby Dick.

Starbuck, that was the code name of the German terrorist Holger Meins.

Holger Meins was the first Red Army Faction member to die in custody in prison on hunger strike in 1974.
He was 33 years old.

25 years after his death, Gerd Conradt, filmmaker and friend, sets off searching for the trail of the helmsman of the Baader-Meinhof Group.
Who was Holger Meins?

What made him go underground? Which circumstances caused his death, a death transforming him into the declared symbol of radical resistance?
What remains of him?

A whole range of companions give information about this path through this tragic chapter of German history with the help from the widest variety of documents of the times.

Meins the boy scout, artist, film maker and guerrilla is remembered by Gretchen Dutschke, Harun Farocki, Wolfgang Petersen, Peter Lilienthal, Michael Ballhaus, Margrit Schiller, “the family screw” Detective Superintendent Alfred Klaus, and others.

Director’s Statement

Holger Meins and I studied together at the Berlin Film Academy in the sixties. We went to film festivals together, to Venice and Pesaro. We were radical. We threw stones, fought with the police, and even chucked a Molotov Cocktail every now and then. However, his chosen path, that of the urban guerrilla, frightened me. I even doubted the slogan "Sieg im Volkskrieg" (“Victory in the Peoples’ War”). For me, every war is a form of terrorism. No war is just or unjust. Nevertheless, people who carry out terrorist attacks are part of a whole. Its one even I belong to. Moreover, all terrorists were children once, have parents or relatives, they all laughed, sang, and danced. Where was the break at which they lost contact to their lives around them and became “warriors”?

I asked many friends, fellow students, and people who knew Holger Meins. I showed them the pictures and paintings Holger had painted or photographed, or the old film sequences he had shot. One person I wanted to talk with was Otto Schily. However, Holger’s then lawyer, now the German Minister of the Interior, refused to discuss the documents showing him side by side with left-wing leader Rudi Dutschke at Holger’s funeral. I wasn’t so much interested in what Schily thinks about the Red Army Fraction today, just what he feels when he sees himself in pictures from back then. Schily explained his refusal by the fact that a lawyer’s professional discretion also extends beyond the death of his mandate.

The most important factor for me, though, was Holger Meins’ father. I got to know him in 1974 at Holger’s funeral. Wilhelm Meins stood by his son 100%. In 1975, I visited him with a video camera. He was definitely a stranger to the intellectual world in which his son had moved, but he didn’t doubt him for one moment. I would not have made the film without this picture testimony from Holger’s father.

For the last four years, I have been preoccupied with the person Holger Meins and his time almost daily. I have reached the conclusion that there are some people who can only live in absolutes. Holger Meins was one of them. That is not meant to idealize what happened, but you need it to understand. It is Meins the artist who is the subject of this film, not Meins the terrorist. Holger was an artist first. He was very talented.

We met up one last time in Berlin when he had already gone underground. We made a conscious decision to go our separate ways. It was a farewell forever. Since then I keep asking myself, how do you portray a lost friend? How do you portray a terrorist? Starbuck - Holger Meins is a search for clues, presenting the terrorist as a person. Moreover, now is precisely the best moment for the film to be shown at the cinemas. Now, people are moved by the theme terrorism as never before. Right now, the idea of having to be either for or against something is very popular: be it friend or enemy, good or evil.
Gerd Conradt

DE

»Der Terrorist als Mensch.
Starbuck war nicht nur der Name des Steuermanns in Herman Melvilles Roman Moby Dick, sondern auch der Deckname von Holger Meins, Steuermann der Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe. 

Der Filmemacher Gerd Conradt flog wie Meins und der renommierte Dokumentarist Harun Farocki 1968 von der Deutschen Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin (DFFB). Mit Farocki drehte er einen der wichtigsten Agit-Prop-Filme der Vietnambewegung, Nicht löschbares Feuer im Brechtschen Stil. Hier skizziert er das Bild des Menschen Holger Meins in seiner Widersprüchlichkeit. Ihm gelingt einer der außergewöhnlichsten Dokumentarfilme der letzten Zeit, vergleichbar in Rigorosität und Intensität mit Andres Veiels Black Box BRD, ein Bindeglied zwischen Vergangenheit und Gegenwart mit einer an das direct cinema erinnernden Ästhetik. 

Meins starb am 9. November 1974 an den Folgen eines Hungerstreiks – ein geschichtsträchtiges Datum. Der Film beginnt mit einer Szene an seinem Grab, wo der Vater über seinen Sohn liebevoll spricht. Er hat eine Betondecke einziehen lassen, damit Holger in Frieden ruhen kann. Der heutige Innenminister Schily und frühere RAF-Anwalt nannte seinen Tod damal seine Hinrichtung auf Raten.Die Autoren präsentieren das kritische und gleichzeitig verstörende Porträt eines jungen, künstlerisch begabten Mannes, der die Welt gerechter machen wollte und dabei zum Terroristen wurde. Die Stationen seiner Existenz dokumentiert er mit Fotos, Bildern, Zeichnungen, Comics, persönlichen Briefen, Berichten, Flugblättern und vor allem durch Ausschnitte aus Meins’ Filmen. Spannend vor allem die Gespräche mit Zeitzeugen, Freunden und Weggefährten, darunter die damaligen DFFB-Studenten Wolfgang Petersen und Michael Ballhaus mit ihren Erzählungen von den wilden und chaotischen Zeiten oder Regisseur Peter Lilienthal, der Meins’ Mangel an politischer Geduld bedauert. Starbuck – Holger Meins ist 90 Minuten aufregendste Zeitgeschichte, an dessen Ende ein zutiefst ernüchterndes Fazit steht – während die Beerdigungs-Teilnehmer auf dem alten Video noch hoffnungsvoll Die Internationale intonieren, stellt Gretchen Dutschke vor diesem Bild 27 Jahre später ganz unsentimental fest: ›Jetzt haben wir eine internationale Welt mit Globalisierung, aber nicht wie wir es damals gedacht haben‹.« Margret Köhler

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