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Dark intrigue: TV mini-series to be shot in Bonn

Dark intrigue : TV mini-series to be shot in Bonn

A mini-series to be shown on the German TV channel ‘Das Erste’ focuses on Bonn in 1954, when the Rhineland city was the capital of West Germany. Shooting for ‘Bonn’ is due to begin shortly in the city.

Cameras, microphones, props, actors and the team behind the camera will be able to be seen at various locations around the city from mid-June. Bonn will be transformed into a film set - for a series whose working title also bears the name of the city. The six-part mini-series ‘Bonn’ deals with the then West German capital in the Rhineland in 1954. The working title refers not only to the city itself, but is synonymous with the people, politicians and their dark intrigues, says producer Philip Voges in an interview with the General-Anzeiger.

The family thriller, which will be shown on the German TV channel ‘Das Erste’ in 2022, centres on the fictional 20-year-old woman Toni Schmidt, who starts working as a foreign language secretary at the Gehlen organisation in 1954. This is the predecessor organisation of today’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND). The ambitious young woman gets caught between the fronts of two rival German secret services - the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Gehlen organisation - and discovers dark secrets amongst her own family and the man she loves.

“The protagonist takes on the role of the spectator: A young, innocent woman from Bonn learns more and more about the people she works with and then uncovers stories from the Nazi era involving her own family,” says Voges. Young Toni Schmidt loses her innocence, undergoes a major transformation, becomes increasingly critical of politics, and realises that she is all alone in this and does not know who she can trust.

According to Voges, the production company Odeon Fiction GmbH came up with the material for the mini-series ‘Bonn’ through the author Gerrit Hermans. He had already dealt with the intrigue in the ministries of the new federal capital in the 1950s. Voges defines “Bonn as a somewhat sleepy little place that runs under the radar, but where the same people from the Nazi rule are building the new republic.” As an example, the producer mentions the politician Hans Golbke, who was appointed head of the Chancellor's Office during Konrad Adenauer's time. Before that, however, Golbke was co-author and commentator on the Nuremberg Race Laws and the ministerial official responsible for the anti-Jewish name change ordinance during the National Socialist era. And he is only one of many. “Adenauer made a pact with the devil to build the new FRG,” says Voges.

The story takes place mainly in the secret services: “These should actually be concerned with arresting Nazis. But pretty soon they were only concerned with the communists, because there were people in the secret services who had previously belonged to the Nazi regime,” says the producer. Through the protagonist, the audience will learn a lot about the beginnings of the FRG. Voges says, “It becomes clear that nothing is as it seems when you look behind the façade. The series is also an eye-opener for the viewer and tells us a lot about Bonn in the past that we didn’t know.”

People from Bonn and the region will recognise their city on the Rhine, but they will also discover it in a new way. Fifty per cent of the series will be filmed in Bonn: “We will mainly shoot outdoor scenes in the city. On the banks of the Rhine, for example," says Voges. But the producer cannot yet say exactly where the filming locations in Bonn will be.

Filming for the series has already begun. So far, however, the team has been filming in a studio in the Czech Republic, where historical sets have been recreated and, for example, the scenes in the Bonn home of the protagonist Schmidt are being filmed. But the series will also show representative streets of Bonn and present the city of the 1950s: Shortly after the end of the war, it was a city under reconstruction with gaps amongst the houses and makeshift ministry buildings. According to Vogts, the series is also intended to stand out against the many Berlin series currently available. ‘Bonn’ is intended to bring the Rhineland into focus. “A production of this kind has never been seen before in Germany,” says Vogts confidently and hopes that the series with its beautiful name will be met with interest amongst viewers.

(Original text: Sofia Grillo, Translation: Caroline Kusch)