Germans & Jews
by Janina Quint. USA / GermanyAfter the end of the Second World War, 27,000 Jews settled in Germany and today over 200,000 live there. Berlin has the fastest growing Jewish population is Europe. That was reason enough for the non-Jewish German Janina Quint and her Jewish friend Tal Recanati to examine the complicated relationship between Germans and Jews in modern Germany. How do Jews live nowadays in Berlin? We witness a group of Germans, Jews and non-Jews, as they sit down at a dinner table to eat and talk with each other. They discuss their personal history, their parent’s history and the political history of the country they live in. They reflect upon their parent’s generation and their motivation to come (back) to Germany after the end of the war. The film returns to the voices at this table again and again, but also introduces us to some public figures and regular Berliners away from the dinner table. Among them: the historian Fritz Stern, the singer Herbert Grönemeyer, the chairwoman of the American Jewish Committee Berlin, Deidre Berger and the publisher Rafael Seligmann. They all share their differing views on their relationship to Germany, to German history and on being Jewish in Germany. The German-Jewish relationship in the decades since 1945 and its fatal previous history, both of them are recapitulated in multi-faceted images: from the encounter between German Chancellor Adenauer and Ben Gurion in 1952, the student movement of 1960’s, the German reception of the American television series “Holocaust” in 1979, Weizsäcker’s speech in 1985 on the 40th anniversary of the end of the war, all the way up to present day. Topographically, the film travels from the center of Berlin to the “Orten des Erinnerns” (Places of Remembrance), a decentralized memorial in the Bavarian Quarter in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. In the sum of its verbal and visual polyphony, this is a very promising, almost European inspired documentary. The generations of those born later, Germans and Jews alike, have learned to deal with the past in a calmer manner, without wanting to forget or suppress it. Today, Germany is considered one of the most democratic and open societies in the world. But in light of the current trend shifting to the right, one might want to add: and hopefully it stays that way. Or to put it in the words of Fritz Stern, who gets the last word in this impressive history lesson: “That achievement has to be defended”.
Janina QuintThe director and producer Janina Quint grew up in Germany. She studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London as well as Media Science at the New School for Social Research in New York. Quint is a co-director of the Senza Frontiere Film Festival and a member of the organization Film ohne Grenzen. Thus far, her documentary “Germans & Jews” (2016) was just shown in the United States, such as the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival and the Washington Hebrew Congregation. American newspapers like The New York Times and The Village Voice already discussed the movie positively.
Length: 76 minutes
Director: Janina Quint