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Imagining Remigration & Return: Translating Experience and Utopia into Film in Postwar Germany

Dorit & Gerald Paul Lectures for the Study of Germans & Jews by

Miriam Rürup, Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, Universität Hamburg

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Oak Room, Indiana Memorial Union, IU Bloomington
5:30 pm

Much has been written on the remigration of Fritz Kortner, both actor and film and theatre director. The Austrian Jew Fritz Kortner emigrated in 1933 and settled in the US. The movie “Der Ruf” (“The Lost Illusion”), for which he had written the screen play and also plays the leading character, received wide attention in Germany (and partly also in the US) and had its premiere in April 1949. The second movie that I want to analyse in my talk, “Long is the Road”, was created by Polish Jews now living in Germany and DP Camps and was shown in Germany in June 1948 (therefore filmed shortly before and played shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel). This movie does not feature well known movie or theatre actors, but just as “Der Ruf“ it is not simply a motion picture, but must be seen and understood as a historic document, reflecting upon key topics of the immediate post-war period.
Both movies are set in Germany in the immediate postwar time and tell the stories of those who have lost everything and are striving to find a country to settle in and to (re)build their lives – whether this should and would be Germany, Israel or elsewhere. Those movies therefore deal with the bigger questions of this period, such as: exile and return, traumatic experiences and loss of family members, Antisemitism and how a new society can be formed and (re)built after the almost total destruction through war and National Socialism. How these bigger questions are reflected on the screen and how the personal experiences of migration, persecution and remigration of those writing the plays and acting on screen are translated into the fictional world is what I want to talk about.

Dr. Rürup will also give a lecture in Indianapolis titled "Jews, Statelessness, and Dreams of Universal Belonging in Germany after the Holocaust" at the Arthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center, 6701 Hoover Road on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 7:30 pm.

Previous Paul Lectures:


This event is free and open to the public. If you have a disability and need assistance, arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs. Please contact