Why do people really do this to each other? With the exception of summer, around nine million Germans sit in front of the television on Sunday evenings and watch criminologists do the extremely nasty things: solve homicides. This has been the case for over 50 years – since November 29, 1970 with “Taxi to …

Why do people really do this to each other? With the exception of summer, around nine million Germans sit in front of the television on Sunday evenings and watch criminologists do the extremely nasty things: solve homicides. This has been going on for over 50 years – since the first “Tatort” aired on ARD on November 29, 1970 with “Taxi to Leipzig”. Since then, more than 1,100 episodes of the TV series have been added. It has thus acquired a certain relevance with regard to the image of reality that German citizens have. Reason enough for the Leipzig Contemporary History Forum to investigate the phenomenon in the special “Tatort. Murder at prime time”. The focus is on how well the televised crime thriller portrays social reality or simply constructs it, with comparative looks at the “Police Call 110” during the GDR era.

First, according to the curator Daniel Kosthorst, he meets her: “This is an upheaval of the civilizational order. A crime is happening. The spectator is part of the investigation and order is restored. this one on the homework of the week. The assertion of reality in the series is often seen as reality. Accurately located geographically and socially-localized scenarios contribute to this, as does investigative work that seems plausible – though much of it is mere construction. It starts with the act. More than a third of the victims of a “crime scene” die from gunfire. In the crime statistics, it’s not even eight percent. An obvious example of construction at the expense of reality, in favor of effect is the role of omniscient medical examiner Boerne (Jan-Josef Liefers) of the Münster crime scenes, who always acts alone. Forensic pathologists work in pairs in accordance with the law. Always.

In other respects, the “crime scenes” of the past 50 years still show signs of social change. In the 1970s, for example, the projection of a corpse on the “crime scene” was only a hint. Since then, the scenes have become more and more explicit, from the full exposure of the deceased to its opening and the removal of organs. But even there construction is involved again: What a deceased person really looks like – if necessary, visible backlit photos provide information – even a “crime scene” is not displayed. According to Kosthorst, the “interrogation room” with camera and one-way mirror, which is now the norm in some “crime scene” agencies, is not part of police practice: interrogation, not interrogation , takes place in the office.

Without overwhelming with its material, the exhibition with original props, numerous video clips and interactive elements offers an entertaining knowledge gain and reminds the “outliers” of everyday life at the “crime scene” – for example the episode “Death in All” (1997) Lena Odenthal (Ulrike Folkerts). In the, the (alive!) Murder victim leaves earth in a water tower that transforms into a spaceship. After all, no spectator should have taken this at face value.

The exhibition “Tatort. Murder at Prime Time” is on view until January 16, 2022 at the Contemporary History Forum in Leipzig.