Set against the backdrop of 1950s Germany, Odeon Fiction’s new historical drama series Bonn depicts the early days of West Germany, a country struggling to break free from the terrors and legacies of World War Two and longing for a ‘normal’ life.
Helmed by Claudia Garde, the 6 x 60-minute series follows Toni Schmidt (Mercedes Müller), a young woman determined to seize every opportunity, overcome every obstacle and make her own way in what is still a very male-dominated society.
But what at first appears to be only an entry-level office job at one of the country’s two competing secret services soon sucks her ever deeper into a clandestine world of suspicion and betrayal. Torn between her obligations to country and family, and for the man she loves, Toni is forced to choose a side.
As Bonn producers Philip Voges & Fabian Winkelmann tell TBI: “In the course of her work, Toni discovers a frightening network of old Nazis who are trying to infiltrate the still so young democracy. But the people don’t want to hear that, they don’t want to know about it.
“They want to finally enjoy the economic miracle and new prosperity. Nazis no longer exist for them, that is the past. But Toni is not satisfied with that. She wants to know more, the truth must finally come to light. No matter the cost!”
Amid the intrigue, the producers worked to recreate the look and feel of the German city of Bonn as it appeared in the 1950s and were able to turn to footage from the time to recreate that period, but some of the real-life historical figures that appear in the series.
However, that search for authenticity took the producers outside of Germany, as Voges and Winkelmann reveal: “Unfortunately, you can’t find the Bonn of the 50s in today’s Bonn. We therefore decided to shoot large parts of the series in Prague, where we found optimal conditions and great locations.”
The show made its German debut on ARD/WDR last month, with the producers describing the response from viewers as “overwhelming” and shared: “Many didn’t even know the true background of the story and started to look into the topic further after watching the series. This was exactly what we had hoped for.”
Voges and Winkelmann add that while the series is set in Germany, the true story that it is based on had implications for the entire of the western world, which they believe will make it of great appeal to international audiences.
“Germany was the focal point of the Cold War. And Bonn was the capital of Germany at that time. Two German secret services were engaged in a fierce battle. All this has never been told before and forms the story of our political thriller series.”
Producer: Odeon Fiction
Distributor: Leonine Studios
Broadcaster: ARD/WDR (Germany)
Logline: A young woman and a man seeking vengeance lay their lives on the line to prevent the newly democratic West Germany falling victim to the past