Crime fiction in the public service: new splendor for German crime fiction

The German television landscape offers countless TV thrillers, but very few are authentic. Does a lesson with the real police help?

Chief inspector Jakob Stiller (Ulrich Noethen) is standing on a property with his hands raised

Chief Inspector Jakob Stiller (Ulrich Noethen) is investigating a case Photo: Maor Waisburd/ZDF

ZDF brings a new crime thriller genre to TV Germany. Now comes the writing inspector, male of course, and his name is Jakob Stiller. He is played by Ulrich Noethen, which he does quite well. Stiller is not so welcome at the LKA in Hamburg. Because he doesn't find it so gnarly that a SEK mission resulting in death is being covered up. So he writes a thriller about it and has to go. Stiller is just being transferred to the Wendland. This is in Lower Saxony and a completely different federal state. But in German crime thrillers, NDR law applies and it also broadcasts for both of them.

Stiller is cycling like a road movie through the former zone border area, while in Hamburg the shit is steaming on. "We weren't particularly Wendland connoisseurs, but if you look from Hamburg, Wendland isn't that far at all," says the responsible person from ZDF about the premiere at the crime festival "Crime Scene Eifel". The film also radiates this cluelessness. But he is for the dignified Saturday evening, where it is usually wilsbergt. "Actually, it's the same as always. Something is being mixed up, Rosamunde Pilcher and Eberhofer thrillers,” says the roommate. That's right, there are beautiful archive pictures of the Republic of Free Wendland, oddly enough only three tractors. And in the pseudo-hippie-decorated village inn, a substitute Joan Baez sings around the clock.

Why is that long gone? televised permanent criminal service did German television just mutate so boring and homey despite the new formats? While British ("Bodyguard") or Scandinavian ("Borrowing") Crime formats are much more authentic. Luckily, this has been the question for a long time at "Tatort Eifel". The festival, which takes place every two years, therefore offers hands-on training for the crime industry and the police.

Crime lessons with the State Criminal Police Office

This year, the President of the State Criminal Police Office of Rhineland-Palatinate will be there in person and will be speaking about “off-the-record criminals” and how difficult it is to track hate online. A criminal director from Trier gives an insight into the mood of investigators and honestly says: "Criminal police work can be quite boring." But it is clear that the digital world is also affecting the police. "In the case of homicides, we have a clear relationship between the perpetrator and the victim," says the criminal director, "that no longer exists in the digital world."

On the other hand, the police can now use drones to take pretty crime scene pictures, which they then actually show outside. And when asked why the drone pilot also carries a weapon during the lecture, he gives the answer, which is difficult to find in a crime story: "No travel without iron." It will certainly also be in Stiller's next book.

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