On behalf of a brief enquiry of Ingola Schmitz and Thomas Nückel, both members of the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Parliament for the Liberal Party (FDP), the NRW Government made a statement on their strategy concerning “research, preservation and development of film heritage”.
The brief enquiry of March 7, 2016 was the result of an initiative of Gert Koshofer, Germany’s most important author on color film and color photography. His initiative was supported by FDP chairman Christian Lindner.
In their preliminary remarks to the brief enquiry, Schmitz and Nückel address the “Bundesarchiv’s so-called Kassationspraxis which leads to the destruction of original film material, especially nitrate film, after its digitization.” Schmidt and Nückel call this practice “deplorable from the cultural political and scientific point of view.”
In their answer of April 13, the NRW Goverment emphasized the “basic archival claim of preserving the original whenever possible” but made it conditional upon “the financial and organizational means of the institution”. “Especially films of film-historic significance or of documentary or artistic value” should be “preserved as originals”. “In all other cases”, framework conditions must be considered, including the explosivity of nitrate films.
It is regrettable that the NRW Government has not expressed a clearer verdict on the Bundesarchiv’s destruction policy. Misleading in this context is the reference to the “enormous volume of film heritage”: The volume of the remaining nitrate is by no means “enormous”. The unanswered question “whether the Bundesarchiv’s depots allow the long-term storage of great amounts of nitrate film” can, of course, be affirmed.
The answer of the NRW Government can be viewed here.