Presentation Friday 25 November
Alex Theatre, St Kilda, Victoria, Australia
Dir: Ela Elisabeth Beken
Film Type: Documentary
Country of Origin: Germany
A Piece of Germany is a poetic documentary film. It is the story of love towards a long-left homeland. It is about family, friends, home, culture, identity, and “liminality.” It’s about children who unwillingly left their country of birth and since then have been existing in-between in a third culture. The director Ela Elisabeth Beken unlocks the inner dynamics of history to see through the children’s eyes and feel through the children’s hearts. A Piece of Germany envisions a peaceful world where people get along well in peace and friendship regardless of their religion or skin color.
A Piece of Germany goes back in time and depicts a period in history when the Turkish guest workers in Germany and their German hosts were close friends and when religion and nationality did not seem to matter as much. We learn that at that time people were interested in each other’s lives. The immigrants with their “born in Germany” babies were celebrating Christmas holidays, birthdays, and other feasts with their German friends and together they were happy like in fairytales. This went on until the early 1980s when the economic and social conditions changed dramatically.
In 1984, especially with the "Return Assistance Act (Rückkehrhilfegesetz) program by the German government, many Turkish immigrants packed everything up and went back to their country of origin with their German-born children. While the parents were happy to go back home, their German children were leaving the only home they have ever known. These children forever lost their friends, their school, their playground and everything else that was meaningful to them. Children left Germany permanently because their parents accepted 10,500 DM for themselves and an additional 1,500 DM for each child; and in return, they signed a contract which forfeited all of their children’s rights to live in Germany ever again. Although they always considered Germany as their home, however, the decision-making process completely bypassed the children.
In A Piece of Germany, the director Ela Elisabeth Beken embarks upon a journey, 27 years later, to find the immigrant children whose parents made this irreversible decision and took the money—effectively tearing their children forever from the only life they had ever known. Ela uncovers the subtle dynamics by probing into the hidden innermost feelings of the children and their parents and develops an incredible story of dreams, survival, ambition, bigotry, and humanity. Today the parents who made the decision on behalf of their children confess that they regret their decision back then and they feel heartache and longing for their home in Germany.
Despite the separation, it turns out, A Piece of Germany is a love story—the children’s pure, innocent, immortal and unconditional love of Germany that they have kept in their hearts for 27 years with no resentment.