Repatriants. Broken branches.
The project is a graphic novel drawn in ink on napkins and based on the methodology of a participatory oral history. This work is the result of seminars with older German repatriates from the USSR in Migration Social Service 1 of Diakoniewerk Simeon gGmbH. On one At the big table we talked about the fate of the Germans from Russia, how to preserve history, collect and write down documents. the film is based on the graphic novella and is part of a multimedia video installation. It was selected by the jury of the commission "30 Years of Peaceful Revolution and German Unity" and shown in the "Gallery of Unity" on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of German unity in Potsdam ". On the napkins are the words from the stories I heard. Since moving to Germany, I have not only been interested in the question of my cultural identity, but also what happens to people like me, Russian-German immigrants in general. How and when did the question arise: Who am I? How do I identify myself? What does it mean to be a German in Russia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine and what does it mean to be a German in Germany? Which historical moments served as the starting point for this or that event? I myself am a repatriate and I understand the difficulties that repatriates encountered before moving to Germany and what they experienced after moving. I record the experiences of my relatives, friends and new acquaintances that I have already made here in Germany. I would like to combine and understand this common but fragmented experience in my work. In the texts on the napkins there are statistics numbers behind which real people stand. The first part captures the time of resettlement at the beginning of the Second World War, when all Russian Germans were expelled, deported and sent to the Trud Army (NKVD work commandos). Many fates and families were destroyed. The second major relocation occurred after the unification of Germany, when the Germans left the Soviet Union. This resettlement was already voluntary. The reflection on why this decision was made is also reflected in the project. And the last part deals with facts from our time, what moves the Germans in Russia now. As part of my work, I ask the following questions: What cultural contribution does the immigration group make Late repatriates for the community in Germany and Berlin? What did the repatriates bring with them and what happens to their culture here? What difficulties did the residents of the GDR and the Repatriates after unification with the FRG, how euphoria led to disappointments and how it was overcome. The symbol of a divided nation - the Berlin Wall - disappeared, but after many years a particular wall remained in the minds of Germans, preventing their ultimate unity. Has it survived now and how can the relationship between East and West Germans be changed? How can you strengthen and unite returnees who often feel isolated and often feel a little homeless? What role does each person play in our social coexistence that determines the changes and processes of the new unification in a multicultural city? "If you keep history in mind and understand its processes, there will be no more mistakes in the future." These were the words that guided my storytellers, theirs Action maxim and motivation for participating in this artistic oral history project. The cultural technique of remembering holds great potential for social transformation. And so it's about building a more peaceful and happier future without forgetting the past and its lessons.
2020. "Gallery of Unity", Posdam, Germany
Inhabitants of the 5 th psychiatric hospital in Khotkovo
As a child I was very afraid of the crazy. In our small town there were two of them. Huge mentally disabled slow Kolya and drooling Rim. When they bumped into each other (after all, the town was small) Rim was laughed wildly hysterically and pointed at Kolya shouting: «A fool is coming, a fool!» To which Kolya only groaned in reply, he almost did not say anything. Despite all their harmlessness, I was afraid of both madly and always went to the other side of the street.
When, almost 3 decades later, by fate I met the inhabitants of the 5th Psychiatric Hospital in Khotkovo, that was a surprise that almost none of the women were «psycho» in the literal sense of the word, almost all of them were victims of violence and because either of that lost their mind, or undermined their strength and will to live. Victims, but not crazy. Early rape, including incest, assaults on the street, beaten by their husbands. Lonely, deprived of family and state’s support of the family and the state, they could not cope with the situation and ended up in the hospital. There was actually no way back. They told me their stories, greedily smoking cigarettes one after another and none of them blamed anyone.
Graphic novel. “Feminist Pencil-2”. Markers, paper. 2013, Artplay, Moscow. 5th Moscow biennale of modern arts.
By Semen Ilich