The Lawyers - A German Saga PDF Print E-mail
Director: Birgit Schulz


2010 Phoenix Dokumentary Film Prize: The Lawyers – A German Story

The starting point of this film is a black and white picture showing Hans-Christian Ströbele, Horst Mahler and Otto Schily, the lawyers of the APO, the extra-parliamentary opposition. The reconstruction of the situation at the time – Mahler as a RAF defendant, Ströbele and Schily as his lawyers – sets off a discussion of German history that spans the period from the state’s repression of the APO in the late 1960s to the post 9/11 security laws.

Following the three protagonists’ biographies closely, the attacks of the state security apparatus on civil rights pass before our eyes: the Shah’s ‘police state visit’ to Germany in 1967, the national armament after the RAF bomb attacks in 1972, the passage of the special laws just before the Stammheim trial began. History comes full circle with the legislative initiatives after 9/11 within the context of the war against terrorism.

The reasons why the three men took such different paths are examined by means of extensive interviews and a lot of archive material. It shows an Otto Schily, for example, whose rhetoric as the RAF defendants’ lawyer or as a Green member of the German parliament are hard to reconcile with what he said as the Minister of the Interior of a Red-Green government. Nevertheless: Mahler, a self-confessed Neo-Nazi today, Ströbele, the unbending one, and Schily – they all claim to have remained faithful to themselves and their dreams. MH

Documentary, 90 min, Germany 2009
Director: Birgit Schulz
Script: Birgit Schulz
Music: Pluramon
Sound: Pascal Capitolin
Principal Cast: Horst Mahler, Otto Schily, Hans-Christian Stroebele
Producer: Sabine de Mardt
Commissioning Editor WDR: Christiane Hinz
Commissioning Editor WDR/ARTE: Andrea Ernst
Commissioning Editor NDR: Silvia Gutmann
Commissioning Editor RBB: Jens Stubenrauch