In the article “War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany” (1995), Robert G. Moeller, a professor of history at the University of California, Irvine, focuses on the topical question of a treatment of the past by Germans in the post-World War II Germany. The author argues that to find a single viewpoint as for the Third Reich period is difficult and the “binary opposition of perpetrator and victim” tends to impact the process of the national self-awareness and self-identification greatly (1048). This results in an uncertainty of an ethical assessment of the historical past and, what is more important, demonstration of a selective memory. The purpose of this paper is to provide interpretation of the 1979 film The Marriage of Maria Braun directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982), a West German filmmaker and a representative of the New German Cinema movement of the 1960s-1980s, taking into consideration the ideas revealed in the article by Moeller. In this way, the main idea of the essay is that in his film, Fassbinder reflects Moeller’s concept of the selective memory by means of dehumanization of film characters while showing the historical post-war period of the German Economic Miracle.
The main character of The Marriage is a woman named Maria. At the beginning of the film, she marries a Wehrmacht officer Hermann Braun in the city of Berlin, which experiences an artillery shelling by the Red Army right at the process of the wedding.