The Star and its Shadow – Forced Labour Daimler-Benz


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In the small East German town Genshagen-Ludwigsfelde, the past, the future and the present collide. It is during the decline of East Germany; Mercedes-Benz is coming to build Europe’s most modern truck plant and “ring in a very, very new era”.

The history, which connects Mercedes and the village, has faded into obscurity. Under cruel circumstances, forced labour convicts had to assemble airplane engines for the German Luftwaffe, in the Mercedes plant Ludwigsfelde during the Second World War. They have never received any compensation – not even today.

In a cautiously, ironic way, the film follows the paradox of post-communist-period events, observing Daimler-Benz’ new commitment to East Germany. Once again, Daimler-Benz is confronted with terrible memories of its forced labour convicts.


SDR, WDR, Channel Four, 1991
Lenght: 90 minutes
Written and directed by: Helmuth Bauer, Eike Schmitz
Camera: Lars Barthel, Günther Becher
Editor: Ingrid Landmesser, Surati Seidler
Commissioning editor: Rainer C. Wagner
German, English or French version