Composition: Kalle Laar / Georg Zeitblom
With: Manfred Zapatka
Producer: BR Hörspiel und Medienkunst
The Warheads Oratorio
Brief Chronicle Of Events
We have become accustomed to regarding talking in slogans and half-true concepts as 'analysis'. But analysis means dissolving, breaking down, disintegrating...
Andreas Kilb in Zeit on Warheads.
Advertisement placed by Romuald Karmakar in the Munich paper Abendzeitung: Ex-mercenaries, ex-legionnaires sought for film project. Then followed the first meeting with Günter Aschenbrenner.
Günter Aschenbrenner: born in 1939 in the diocesan city of Eichstätt. His father fell at Stalingrad in 1943. His mother had to provide for six children. He grew up with the Franciscans. The fact that his father was in the SS overshadows his social contacts. At fifteen he went to live with his uncle in Stuttgart. At nineteen he joined the French Foreign Legion.
Above the barracks entrances were the words: Legionnaire, you have come here to die and we will lead you to where you can die. There was thus no mistaking what awaited us, But no-one actually thought about it... And then we got kitted out, first stripping down naked, straight off to the barber, hair shaved down to the roots and then getting kitted out, disinfected, then eating for the first time and then came the tests. Mental tests, physical tests, medical examinations. And you were already classified, graded, each according to the profile he presented of himself... this one's for the infantry, this one's good for office work etc. I suppose I was already classified as a paratrooper even there, very strong, sporty, in top physical form, young. And then we were off, after about 14 days, we set out on the 'Sidi-Bel-Abbès', a ship, from Marseilles to Oran in Algeria. That was 1958.
The operations in Algeria were followed by others in Chad, Djibouti, the Central African Republic, on Tahiti, the Mururoa Atoll (17 atom bombs), French Guayana, Zaire.
The fact that the Legion's soul was German surely stems from the period after the Second World War, after the collapse... The overwhelming majority of the NCOs' corps were Germans, nearly all of them, over 80 %. A lot of German was spoken, German songs were sung, the marches, German marches. And the whole style of training and the discipline was German. When drilling, for instance, when you had to learn how to march in step etc., we sang German marches, like Westerwald, like Anne Marie, Mein Regiment, mein Heimatland and so on. But I can tell you, Nazi songs were only sung in the evening, in the mess, in the legionnaire's foyer. The French officers were only passing through, they stayed for two years and went away again. It was our family really... In 1979, after twenty years, he finished his career as a legionnaire in the 2nd paratroop regiment with the highest non-commissioned rank. In 1979 Günter Aschenbrenner accepted a contract for a German company in Zaire which intended to use rockets to transport nuclear waste into space. Since 1989 he has been employed in North Africa.
13.06. to 02.07.1990
First period of shooting for the film Warheads (working title at that time still 9 Commando) in Jackson, Mississippi, USA: recordings of the training of the Special Assault School and interviews with Aschenbrenner.
Karmakar's journey to Liverpool. The mercenary Karl Penta declares his willingness to collaborate on the film.
Karl Penta, born in Liverpool in 1950. He worked on English and Norwegian ships for eleven years. There is a vast difference between a legionnaire and a mercenary... if you're in the Foreign Legion, you know how much pay you're going to get, you know what weapons you'll have, what equipment is available for operations. In my case the situation is completely different. I don't know whether I'll be wearing a red beret or a bloody blue one. In the Legion you know what colours you're going to wear every day. With me it's different all the time.
Then came his time as a mercenary, in, among other places, West Africa, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Southern Sudan, Surinam (with the black rebels of the Jungle Command). In 1991 he was in Croatia. I'll tell you something about friendships among mercenaries. There are really great guys you can go through thick and thin with, really nice lads. If you put them under pressure, I mean really big pressure that pushes them to the limit, so they think they're going to die the next day, you should see them then, watch them change. You'll see how these great guys can turn into real devils, prepared to use any means at their disposal.
17.04. to 26.04.1991
Second period of shooting in French Guayana: Interviews with Aschenbrenner and recordings of the places connected with his former posting.
Third period of shooting: Interview with Karl in Munich.
14.12.1991 to 01.01.1992
Fourth period of period: Interviews with Karl and recordings in destroyed Gospic.
Pilot copy of the film Warheads. (16mm, colour, 182 minutes) Distributed by: Ambush Entertainment.
World premiere of Warheads at the 45th International Film Festival in Locarno.
German premiere of Warheads at the 43rd International Film Festival in Berlin.
Warheads are what you find on missiles, but it can also mean the heads of those whose thinking is dominated by war. (Kölner Stadt-Zeitung) The impressive thing about his film, which has no commentary and whose brittle dialogue passages demand a little patience of the viewer, is the chasms that open up beyond the spoken word. (Kölner Rundschau) But analysis means dissolving, breaking down, disintegrating, and that is the theme of Karmakar's film. War disintegrates the world, and Karmakar analyses war by following the warriors with a camera, cautiously, patiently, without adopting a know-all stance. He doesn't watch death at work, but during the breaks, when what has been experienced can be seen in the faces. (Die Zeit)
Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcasts the first part of the trilogy Warheads, the readytape Night over Gospic. (length: 40'35 min.) In the night of 27 December we experience for the first time an artillery attack on the town. The cameraman is in bed, the sound man is in the kitchen, and I am sitting with my tape recorder on the balcony, Karmakar writes. The radio play documents for about half an hour the artillery attack on Gospic and the rhythm of the alternating incoming and outgoing shells. In between, the barking of dogs, isolated volleys of gunfire, a passing car and reactions of those present to the nearby impact of the shells.
Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcasts the second part of the trilogy Warheads: The Warheads Oratorio. (length: 66'10) Passages from actual interviews with Günter Aschenbrenner and Karl Penta, interspersed with original texts spoken by the actor Manfred Zapatka and condensed by Michael Farin, interwoven with compositions by Kalle Laar and Zeitblom developed partly from original sounds in the film, produced by Romuald Karmakar and Bernhard Jugel.
It's like a drug, this life, ...you know, it's like being caught in a whirlpool. You can't get out once you're in it. Anyway, that's what it's like for me... like a self-destructive whirlpool. I can't get out of the bloody thing. But one day I'll just disappear down that bloody hole.
intermedium rec. 006
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