NACHT DER LANGEN MESSER (Night of the Long Knives), 2010
16mm film transferred to video
Duration: 09:44 min.
“Nacht der langen Messer” (Night of the Long Knives), refers to an historic event that took place in Nazi-Germany in 1934, where a brutal massacre against the national socialist movement SA (Sturmabteilung) was initiated by the SS under direct orders from A. Hitler.
I dealt with this theme, more specifically the relationship between homosexuality and Nazism, in a 16mm film produced in Berlin in 2009–2010. The film consist of a narrative, shifting between past and present, depicting an elderly man who finds old records, an old record player and a stack of photographs of SA soldiers, left behind in a dark attic.
By studying the different photographs of the soldiers as well as listening to the old records, particularly an old recording of Franz Lehar´s “The Merry Widow”, he is taken back in time to a scene showing a group of six SA soldiers, some of them dancing with each other, and others applying makeup. The atmosphere and contact between the soldiers is intimate, and two of them are continuously dancing, in a close embrace as they gaze at each other.
The next scene is set back in present time: the protagonist (the elderly man) discovers an old leather suitcase containing a set of small toy soldiers from the 1930s. He starts placing the soldiers out on a table, then playfully starts to move them around, before he finally places them one by one on the spinning record that plays Lehar’s music.
Gazing at the toy soldiers as they spin around on the record, he is suddenly thrown into a state of shock by a vision of a ghost appearing before him in the room. The ghost, which seems to be a manifestation of a dead SA soldier with a pale face, waves a Nazi flag and points directly at him. This vision is so startling and shocking that it makes him collapse. He drops to the floor, and in this movement his hand accidentally also grasps the toy soldiers, which also fall over on the record.
The camera zooms in on the record player, which has now stopped, and shows the “fallen” toy soldiers in disarray on the record. Massive quantities of blood start pouring out from within the record where the toy soldiers have been “put to rest”. The blood soon drips over the edge of the record unto the tablecloth, drenching it intensely red.
The last scenes of the film consist of still images of the same group of SA soldiers: they have been massacred in a destroyed interior; they are lying partially undressed around the room, with gunshot wounds to their bodies, drenched in blood.