Tourists As Post-Witnesses in Documentary Film: Sergei Loznitsa's Austerlitz (2016) and Rex Bloomstein's KZ (2006)

19 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2019 Last revised: 7 Oct 2019

Date Written: March 12, 2019


English abstract: This article compares two documentary films that address an apparent crisis of post-witnessing at memorials that commemorate the victims of National Socialism. In the context of contemporary debates about appropriate behaviour for tourists at sites of “dark” or “difficult” heritage, Sergei Loznitsa’s Austerlitz (2016) and Rex Bloomstein’s KZ (2006) take very different approaches to observing the act of visiting concentration camp memorials. Whereas Loznitsa adopts an observational documentary mode, constructing a cultural hierarchy between the touristic observer and the cinematic observer at memorials in Germany, Bloomstein’s film uses a participatory mode to prompt the viewer to consider the complexities of the affective-discursive practice of tourists engaging with the suffering of victims at the Mauthausen memorial in Austria. The article argues that Bloomstein’s decision to adopt a participatory approach is more productive in allowing us to think about the significance of responses to victims’ suffering at such sites.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo compara dos documentales que giran en torno a una aparente crisis del post-testimonio en monumentos a las víctimas del nacionalsocialismo. En el contexto del debate actual sobre cómo deben comportarse los turistas en lugares de herencia “oscura” o “difícil”, Austerlitz (2016), de Sergei Loznitsa, y KZ (2006), de Rex Bloomstein, observan de forma muy diferente el acto de visitar antiguos campos de concentración. Mientras Loznitsa adopta un modo de observación documental, construyendo una jerarquía cultural entre el observador turístico y el cinemático, Bloomstein opta por un modo participativo para exhortar al espectador a considerar las complejidades de las prácticas afectivo-discursivas de los turistas que se comprometen con el sufrimiento de las víctimas. El artículo argumenta que la decisión de Bloomstein de adoptar un enfoque participativo es más productivo a la hora de propiciar nuestra reflexión sobre el significado de las respuestas al sufrimiento de las víctimas en esos lugares.

Keywords: documentary, dark tourism, post-witnessing, Sergei Loznitsa, Rex Bloomstein, National Socialism, Documental, turismo negro, post-testimonio, nacionalsocialismo

Suggested Citation

Clarke, David, Tourists As Post-Witnesses in Documentary Film: Sergei Loznitsa's Austerlitz (2016) and Rex Bloomstein's KZ (2006) (March 12, 2019). Forthcoming, Oñati Socio-Legal Series. Link:, Available at SSRN:

David Clarke (Contact Author)

Cardiff University ( email )

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United Kingdom

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