This article analyzes Jeanine Meerapfel’s 2012 film El amigo alemán (co-produced in Germany and Argentina) and focuses on the tensions between friendship, religion, and politics in the protagonists’ forty-year friendship. Using Carl Schmitt’s categories of friendship and enmity vis-à-vis politics, we see that friendship facilitates political identities yet, paradoxically, political identities can ultimately impede friendship. This study focuses on Meerapfel’s film’s representation of post-World War II Argentina, the 1968 student movements in Europe, and (post-)dictatorial Argentina as key moments in twentieth-century politics in which the film’s characters must grapple with their own identities and political participation. These processes are encumbered by the ethical and historical weight of their respective families’ histories as Jews and Nazis, respectively. This study of Meerapfel’s film reveals the interplays between liberation struggles and religious identities as too difficult a sociopolitical landscape to navigate, whereby the film’s protagonists are only finally able to relate to each other by detaching themselves from the historical weight of these tensions that continue to go unresolved.


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pp. 101-125
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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