Monday, September 16, 2013

The Flat (Hadira in Hebrew) written and directed by Arnon Goldfinger 2011 (documentary film) In Hebrew and English

"Borne on the generational ripples of a painful history, Arnon Goldfinger's 'The Flat' is a true-life detective story that uncovers much more than the tangled roots of its maker's family tree."
from a review by Jeannette Catsoulis in the NY Times 10/18/2012

This documentary, primarily filmed at the flat of Arnon Goldfinger’s recently deceased widowed grandmother, focuses on issues having to do with the Holocaust that he and his family only start to confront when they start emptying her apartment.

Goldfinger’s grandparents were successful German Jews who lived in Berlin, but left for Israel before the war. As Goldfinger remarks, his grandmother, who died at the age of 98, lived her life in Israel as if she were still a citizen of Germany. She visited Germany yearly and held on to many possessions from Germany, including old newspapers, letters and photos.

Those artifacts from her past open up a world that the author did not know existed, nor did his mother, who had been born in Berlin. Goldfinger wants to understand what he has learned, so he travels to Germany to interview the German daughter of former friends of his grandparents. On a second trip he brings his mother along and they also visit a cousin who lives in Berlin who fills in more of the family picture.

The movie serves to demonstrate what is now a pretty well-established point: that those traumatized by the Holocaust often did not speak of it and that the children of the second generation most often respected those boundaries. Goldfinger himself is now puzzled as to why he and his siblings asked so few questions about his grandmother’s past.

What is very interesting are the conversations in Germany with the German daughter of his grandparents’ friends. Pressing her with information he has researched about her father, he finds she has maintained a willful ignorance of her father’s past. On both sides (although for different pschological  reasons), Goldfinger found the trauma of the Holocaust buried. On both sides, a veneer of normalcy prevailed.

To read an interview with Arnon Goldfinger, click here.
To read an article about another German Jew who fled Germany and settled in Israel published in Haaretz, click here.

Susanna and Heinich Lehmann
    Gerda Lehmann – married Kurt Tuchler
        Hannah Tuchler Goldfinger – daughter of Gerda and Kurt
             Arnon Goldfinger –son of Hannah; writer/director
             Noam Goldfinger – son of Hannah
             Yair Goldfinger – son of Hannah
             Gidi – of Hannah
             Orit Goldfinger-Mendel – daughter of Hannah Goldfinger
  Paula Lehmann Weinstein – sister of Heinich
     Manuel Trokes – grandson of Paula Lehmann
     Rani Eisenberg – cousin; exact relationship not clear

Tel Aviv, Israel
Berlin, Germany

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