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NELKENGASSE / GRANDCHILDREN'S QUESTIONS / Home Sweet Home / Deserts & Backbones

 

 

 

Wien mein Wien
Home Sweet Home

Home dear Home

documentary film
52 min
concept/interviews/compositing/editing
alexandra reill

camera
thomas königshofer

alexandra reill

production
kanonmedia
vienna, 2008

download press release
[German Text Version]

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feedback by Leander Kaiser

WIEN MEIN WIEN
Thema des experimentellen Dokumentarfilms WIEN MEIN WIEN ist eine autobiografische Spurensuche faschistoider Prägungen aus der NS-Zeit, die sich auf die erste Folgegeneration mit ihrer Jugend in den 60er/70er Jahren etwaig übertragen haben. Welche Verdrängungsmythen trägt eine Angehörige der österreichischen Mehrheitsgesellschaft in ihrem alltäglichen Denken, im alltäglichen Handeln, in ihren Erinnerungen, in den Überlieferungen durch die Familie?

Die 70er Jahre und damit die Jugendlichkeit der Protagonistin beinhaltet die Erinnerungen an eine tief miteinander befreundete Mädchenclique, die nicht aufhörten, der Mutter vorwurfsvolle Fragen über den fehlenden Widerstand gegen die Nazis zu stellen. „Man habe nichts gewusst“ war die Standardantworten, die nie von den Jugendlichen geglaubt wurde, deren Zorn mit der immer wieder, in einer Regelmäßig- und Unverrückbarkeit gegebenen Antwort wuchs. Fernsehen und Zeitung waren täglich voll mit einer Berichterstattung über den Zweiten Weltkrieg, so dicht mit einer Phase der ersten Aufarbeitungsversuche besetzt, dass die Jugendlichen schließlich nichts mehr von dem Thema hören wollten – in dem Anspruch, zu dieser Zeit nicht geboren gewesen zu sein und daher keine Verantwortung für das geschehene Grauen zu tragen.

Der geliebte Großvater starb zu Beginn der Neunziger Jahre, der Kontakt zur Pflegefamilie wurde loser, doch jeweils zu den Weihnachtsfeiertagen treffen sich seine echten Enkeln und die Protagonistin als Pflegeenkel zu Kaffee und Kuchen und schauen alte Fotos an. Weihnachten 2007, rd. 20 Jahre nach dem Tod des Großvaters: die Protagonistin hält Fotos aus dem Krieg in der Hand, wundert sich, wie adrett die Großmutter, eine Schneiderin aus Ottakring, und die gemeinsame Tochter gekleidet sind, sogar mit Pelzkragen – die Not sei doch groß gewesen, die Familie nicht wohlhabend, im Gegenteil. Wie sehr sich die Schneiderin wohl hatte anstrengen müssen, um solch adrette Kleidung zu nähen. Ihre – gäbe es eine Verwandtschaft, wäre sie ihre – ältere Schwester erzählt, dass die Familie im Krieg keine Not gelitten hätte, der Großvater sei an der russischen Front gewesen und hätte immer Pakete geschickt. Wie konnte er das nur zuwege bringen? Nun, er war ja von Beruf Handelsreisender, da muss man schon geschickt sein, nun, das war er wohl auch im Krieg. Ein verblichenes Dokument folgt, das die Schwester mit nun schon über 50 Jahren und Brille nicht richtig lesen kann, die Protagonistin hilft ihr, den alten Stempel und die Kurrentschrift zu entziffern --- Entnazifizierungsbescheid. Der Großvater wurde des Verdachts auf SA-Scharführerschaft freigesprochen, nicht jedoch des Verdachts auf SA-Rottenführerschaft.

Belegt. Bewiesen: SA-Rottenführer. Der heiß geliebte Großvater, der Märchenopa, der Sozialist. Daher stammten also die Pakete, daher die adrette Kleidung. Daher die Antwort, die er ihr als Kind immer gegeben hatte, wenn sie nach dem Krieg gefragt hatte: frage nicht, es war sehr grausam, frage lieber nicht. Mehr hatte er nie gesagt.

Wen sollte sie nun mehr entlasten – die Mutter, die als „brave“ Deutsche „nie von etwas gewusst hatte oder nun den Märchenopa, bei dem es so etwas nie gegeben hatte und der nun in der Biografie der Protagonistin und lange nach seinem Tode, erst dann für sie, zum SA-Mann wurde.

Nun ist sie in der Rolle der Täterin – wie hat sie umzugehen mit der Liebe eines Kindes zum allerbesten Großvater, den es auf der Welt nur geben kann, nun, da sie weiß, dass er SA-Mann war? Wie verändert sich diese Liebe? Was verändert die Tatsache? In einem autobiografischen Interview hinterfragt die Protagonistin ihre Identität – als Angehörige einer TäterInnen- und MitläuferInnengesellschaft, als Kind der ersten Folgegeneration.

Diese Spurensuche wird gegen geschnitten zu Interviews mit anderen Angehörige von Folgegenerationen, die danach befragt werden, welche Erinnerungen Menschen an die Vorkriegszeit, den Anschluss und die Kriegszeit tragen bzw. welche Erzählungen von den Eltern, Großeltern oder auch schon Urgroßeltern überliefert wurden.

Der Gegenschnitt deckt gängige Aussagen, gängige Mythen auf – Erzählungen, von denen ein Kind denkt, dass sie persönliche sind, um als Erwachsene festzustellen, dass viele dieser Erzählungen deckungsgleich mit den Erinnerungen anderer MehrheitsösterreicherInnen sind, keine persönlichen Erzählungen, Aussagen einer Mehrheitsgesellschaft, Aussagen einer Generation, die tötenden Rassismus duldete, unterstützte und betrieb.

 

EXISTENZ ENKEL
GRANDCHILDREN'S QUESTIONS

 

 

HOME SWEET HOME
is the [auto]biographic tracking of fascist history inherited by Viennese mainstream society following the Second World War. As a child of the first post-war generation who was raised in Vienna in the 60’s and 70’s, filmmaker Alexandra Reill compares the evidence discovered in her own family history with the memories of other children of the first four post-war generations of the “society of majority”.

What myths of denial still exist, even today, in the identity of mainstream Austrian society? To what extent do they contribute to the collective conditioning of character, self-knowledge, daily experience, action, and memory? How are they represented by oral tradition in the family? How do four generations of the children of a war society, once overrepresented by the perpetrators of Nazi crime and opportunism, bear up to the responsibility of this dark legacy? What conditions are necessary to assume responsibility for history and its consequences today?

A Family Story
Alexandra Reill is the daughter of a German woman who grew up in a stronghold of the Nazis - Nuremberg - and who married the son of a Viennese lawyer during the Second World War. The film maker's mother met the blond and attractive young man when she was 20 and working as a nurse in a battlefield hospital at Tegernsee in Southern Germany. Soon after having moved into the parents-in-law' flat in Richtergasse in the Seventh District of Vienna she had to see her young husband flee from Vienna, taking with him her typewriter - this symbol for somehow being able to secure existence during the ar as even then she could earn little money with typing - and his mistress. In a letter the husband left behind he explained to her that the wedding had been harum-scarum. Out of love - as Reill's mother always used to say even in her late days - she finally agreed to divorce.

When Reill's mother was in her thirties she met the father of the film maker and for many years became his mistress. When she fell pregnant the father did not accept the "illegitimate" baby. So, as a single parent she had to be a sole wage earner and could not take care of the baby. She brought the little girl to a working class family in Kagran where the girl spent her first six years - in a Socialist family. Only when school started the child was taken back to the "city" and from then on together with her mother lived in a large and at that time fairly bourgeois flat on Mariahilfer Straße which in the meantime the mother had succeeded to rent. Also, the woman made sure that the girl was enrolled in a Catholic convent school to receive good education.

Every day when the after-school care club of the convent school closed at 5 pm, the little girl was the last one waiting in the checkroom to be picked up. Every day the mother had to work overtime and could not pick up her child on time. But every day the foster grandfather from Kagran - a grandpa out of a fairytale book and dearly beloved by the child - took the tram No. 25 to spend one hour for travelling from Kagran to Neubau to pick up the girl on time. Every day equipped with sweets or a sandwich for the child he took care of her until the mother - tired from work - came home in the evening. Then he took the No. 25 again to travel back home which took him another hour. It was like a world-tour - not only because of all the long hours he invested every day but also because it was a tour between two completely different worlds.

The 70ies and thus the youth of Alexandra Reill include the memories of a clique of girls not stopping to ask the mother reproachful questions about the lack of resistance against the Nazis. Again and again they asked. The standard reply was "We did not know, nobody knew". This answer never ever was believed by the girls and because the same answer was repeated again and again and as if set in stone the teenagers became furious, stayed furios for quite some time until finally they decided that they were not prepared to to hear anything about the whole story any more - claiming that they were not part of the war generation, that they were born later and therefore do not have to assume responsibility for the atrocities which had taken place during World War II.

The beloved grandfather died in the early 90ies, contact with the foster family got looser but every year around Christmas the grandchildren and Reill as the foster grandchild meet for coffee and cake and take a look at old photos.

Christmas 2007 - about 20 years after the death of the grandfather: in her hand Alexandra Reill holds photos shot during the Second World War. She is wondering how neatly dressed her grandmother, a tailor born in the working class neighbourhood Ottakring, and her daughter were. The daughter's coat even had a fur collar. Poverty was huge ..., the family never had been a rich family, on the contrary .... How hard must it have been for the tailor to be able to make such neat clothes for the daughter ....

Her - if they were relatives it would be her - older sister says that the family was not suffering poverty during the War and that the grandfather always sent parcels back home when serving on the Russion front as a soldier. How could he manage? Well, he had been a commercial traveller by profession before the war, you have to be smart in such a job, he probably knew how to be smart during war times also, so ....

A faded document ... Reill's sister - in the meantime already in her 50ies and needing glasses for reading which she can't find ... Reill helps her to decipher the old stamp and the Kurrent fonts: official notice of denazification.

The grandfather was exculpated of having been a SA-Scharführer but he was not exculpated of having been a SA-Rottenführer.

Documented. Proven. SA-Rottenführer.

Her beloved grandpa, the fairytaile grandpa, the socialist. This is the reason why he could send parcels, this is the reason why such neat clothes were available. This is what the answer meant he always gave when she was asking questions about the war when she was a child: "Don't ask, it was very cruel, just don't ask". Never he said anything else.

Whom should she exculpate more now? The mother who as a "good" German "who had never known about anything" or the fairytale grandpa where no such denial ever occured but who now - in the biography of the film maker and long after his death - only then - turned out to have been an SA-man?

Now she is in the role of the committer - how can she handle her child's love embracing the best grandpa in the world now that she knows that he was a SA-man? How does this love of a child change? What are the changes now? What needs to be changed through this terrible fact?

Coming from a Vienna mainstream society of active committers of crime and Nazi opportunists and being a child of the first post-war generation, Alexandra Reill tries to reflect her identity. This tracking of traces is compared with the memories of other members of post-war mainstream society in Vienna. Which oral tradition has been handed down by parents, grandparents, great-grandparents? The interviews prove a collectively ongoing tradition to maintain myths of denial - myths which are just of the same kind the film maker knows from her own family. The comparison of memories reveals a common spoken way of phrasing, common myths and records in peoples' minds of which they think that they are personal family memories, that they are individual - without realizing that the vast majority of these memories often literally is the same like in all the other families with such oral tradition. These memories are not individual memories, they form the framework for a society's identity and they come from the myths of denial created by a vast majority of committers and opportunists in the Vienna mainstream society of the 30ies and 40ies. And still today, most of them are fully present in daily life.

 

Wien mein Wien
photos:
thomas königshofer/alexandra reill/unknown authors
photo montage: alexandra reill

screenings
--- 7*stern / vie / a / 09
--- mediathek austria / vie / a / 08
--- admiral kino / vie / a / 08

featured by
--- artsuche / d / 11
--- educult / vie / a / 08
--- orf wien heute / vie / a / 08
--- oe1 kultur / vie / a / 08
--- oe1 orf.at inforadio / vie / a / 08
--- orf newspool / vie / a / 08
--- der standard / vie / a / 08
--- wien.gv.at / vie / a / 08
--- apa.ots.portal / vie / a / 08
--- apa.zukunftwissen / vie / a / 08
--- der standard / vie / a / 08
--- volksgruppen.orf / vie / a / 08
--- wieninternational.at / vie / a / 08
--- kulturkalender.esel / vie / a / 08
--- peter fuxx artscreens / vie / a / 08
--- du bist nachrichten / la / a / 08
--- unser daheim / vie / a / 08
--- theaterkompass / berlin / d / 08
--- mariahilf gruene.at / vie / a / 08
--- wienweb.at / vie / a / 08
--- neubauwest / vie / a / 08
--- district journal 1070 vienna / vie / a / 08
--- die stadtspionin / vie / a / 08
--- educult / vie / a / 08
--- UCLA Art | Sci Center & Lab / us / 08
--- ferypictures / int / 08
--- mondaynews / berlin / d / 08
--- jewish theater of austria / vie / a / 08
--- döw / vie / a / 09

support
--- department of culture of the city of vienna/district activities
--- municipality of 1070 vienna
--- mediathek austria/audiovisual department of technisches museum wien
--- jewish theater of austria
--- peter fuxx direct marketing

 
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