Polish court sentenced the makers of the ZDF series
No compensation, but a public apology must be given: A Polish court has sentenced the makers of the award-winning ZDF war drama “Our mothers, our fathers”. A 96-year-old Polish war veteran had sued.
Et is an unusual process: the makers of the ZDF multi-part series “Our Mothers, Our Fathers” have been sentenced to a public apology by a court in Krakow, Poland. This should be published on Polish television as well as on the German channels ZDF, ZDFneo and 3sat, reported the Polish news agency PAP.
The three-part war drama from 2013 was also broadcast on Polish television. The judgment that the appellate court has issued against the production company UFA Fiction and ZDF is already final.
In the ZDF miniseries, soldiers from the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa, AK) were not shown correctly, it said. The broadcaster had suggested “that this military organization had an anti-Semitic character,” PAP quoted from the judgment.
A 96-year-old had sued
The first judgment was issued in 2018, when the broadcaster appealed. The plaintiff was and is now 96-year-old AK veteran Zbigniew Radlowski. The survivor of a concentration camp and rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust had brought the lawsuit with the support of the Association of AK Veterans.
He accused ZDF and UFA Fiction of violating their personal rights with the three-part series about Germans in World War II, which was first broadcast in 2013. Accordingly, “Our mothers, our fathers” contain scenes that would give Poland’s Home Army complicity in the crimes against the Jewish people.
Thereupon the district court sentenced the makers of the series to apologize and to pay damages in the amount of 20,000 zloty (the equivalent of around 4500 euros). The producers appealed against this, but they were again subject to it.
ZDF is reviewing legal remedies again
In statements by ZDF and UFA Fiction, it was said that they regretted that the court did not pay sufficient attention to artistic freedom. As soon as the judgment is available in writing, one wants to examine the reasoning and appeal against the decision. Well-known specialist historians were involved in developing the book for the multi-part series.
The appeals court ruled in detail as follows: The three-parter does not question the role of the Germans in the Nazi crimes and their responsibility for the Holocaust, nor the fact that the Poles were victims of the German occupation. The characters in the film are also fictional and cannot be identified with living people.
However, the film shows partisans with a white and red armband and the inscription “AK” and explains that representatives of this organization “had an aversion to Jews, were indifferent to their lot and were permeated by an anti-Semitic attitude”.
This approach of the filmmakers leads to the fact that the Home Army is perceived as a formation in which an anti-Semitic attitude predominated. This exceeded the freedom of expression, according to the court.
The series has won many awards
The mini-series, broadcast for the first time in 2013, is about five young Germans who were friends with each other during the Second World War. One of them, Viktor, escapes his deportation to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and joins the Home Army.
The ZDF production was awarded the International Emmy in 2014. The offshoot of the renowned US television award Emmy is awarded for TV productions outside the USA. In the same year, “Our Mothers, Our Fathers” also received the Golden Camera from the “Hörzu” program guide.