Documentary on Religious Wars

15./ 16.08.2011

Last week, the German television station “ZDF” aired the first of its five-part documentary on the history of religious wars with a special focus on Islam, entitled “Der Heilige Krieg” (Holy War). Motivated by the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, award-winning German journalist Guido Knopp, one of the key heads of the ZDF’s Contemporary History Department and well-known for his documentaries on the Third Reich, has explored the history of religious wars, going as far back as the 7th century. Each of the five parts of the documentary centres on distinct historical periods, starting with the 7th and 8th century in the first part, entitled “the prophet’s sword”. This is followed by episodes on the “Crusades to Jerusalem”, “Turks in Vienna”, “the Emperor’s Jihad”, and, the most topical, “terror in the name of faith”. Knopp’s final conclusion is that there is no such thing as a “holy war”. After it had been aired last Tuesday, the first episode received both positive as well as critical acclaim.