‘Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis’ Documentary Review

Gladbeck: The Hostage Crisis‘ is a true crime Netflix documentary directed by Volker Heise. Using archival footage exclusively, it recounts a 1988 hostage situation in West Germany.

Two thugs Hans-Jürgen Rösner and Dieter Degowski rob a branch of Deutsche Bank in Gladbeck, a community in Germany. They led the police on a tense chase as they took two hostages and then an entire bus. During the standoff, a teenage boy, a college-aged girl, and a police officer were killed, all while the European press made pals with the criminals.

The documentary is spliced together with scenes from actual footage, recordings, and photographs. There are no interviews, narration, or reenactments as the press was filming from the beginning, creating a media frenzy. It definitely delivers an impact as you are aghast by the behavior of all those involved. I spotted two things highlighted by this film.

First of all, the police behaved very inappropriately. They let the press drive the case and just stood by as these two thugs terrorized at least three towns. In one town, the criminals just sat in a car getting coffee and cigarettes from the press while the police just yawned. They ignored several opportunities to take down the two and it was embarrassing.

Secondly, the media was never noble. Even today, I hear commentators pine for the “good ol’ days” when the press was more honest. The fact is, it was just easier to hide their dishonesty. In this scenario, they were literally drinking, laughing, and joking with these murderous thugs who were just after a buck. The press glorified them and at least went on the chase with them. The documentary points out that this incident led to multiple reforms in journalistic ethics in Germany, but it did not help. The European press is still terrible at their job and sadly the American press wants to follow suit.

The fact is, this incident could have been avoided if the police had shown a backbone and the press had not become buddies with these murderers. While the documentary was highlighting an incident in German history, it accidentally showed other issues. The corruption of the press has been around for a lot longer than folks thought and it leads to tragedy.

Check out the trailer below:

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Frightening circumstances, Violence

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews 2000 Mules and Sins of the Father: The Green River Killer. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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