Evan Hierholzer, Managing Editor
This semester, the Dallas Goethe Center will cooperate with the University of Dallas in showing two German films, the first of which will be shown this week.
“The Dallas Goethe Center, Inc. is a cultural and educational organization founded in 1965 to foster an appreciation of German art, drama, music, language, literature, history and current affairs, and to cultivate mutual understanding between the people of German-speaking countries and those of the United States of America,” explained Dr. Jacob-Ivan Eidt, associate professor of German and chair of the department of modern languages and literatures.
Eidt, in addition to being on the board of trustees of the center, directs its film series and serves on its programming committee.
The films explore various themes of World War II and its aftermath, but they all focus upon the German perspective of such events. Following the film showings, Goethe Center members and the University of Dallas community will have the chance to converse in the Cap Bar.
“It is a great way to get out of the Bubble without actually leaving it,” said Eidt, speaking about the opportunity to talk with Goethe Center members. “They bring history and culture alive. For them, Germany is not an academic subject but a very real and personal part of their lives.”
The Cap Bar conversations, according to Eidt, afford UD students and faculty a unique opportunity to engage with an interesting, multifaceted cross-section of the Dallas-Fort Worth population.
“At UD we often joke about being a little insular … these DGC members have traveled all over the world, [and] they speak several languages,” said Eidt.
“The membership [of the Goethe Center] is very diverse,” said Eidt. “Many members are Germans that moved here in the 1950s and ’60s, and some came much more recently because of work, study or because they married Americans…The youngest members are in their teens, and the oldest in their 80s. Many are very active in business, politics, education and the general cultural life of the DFW area.”
Eidt emphasized that “our older members are a particular treasure. They can tell you firsthand what it was like after the war, during the Cold War or living under the communist dictatorship in the East. They have a fascinating perspective on their history that in a few generations or so will no longer be a firsthand account. Talk to them while you can.”
The films themselves are also intended to provide the student body and other UD community members with interesting and novel perspectives on oft-portrayed historical topics.
Referring to the films’ focus on the effects of the war on post-World War II Germany, Eidt commented, “I think this topic in particular helps us understand that most things in life are complicated and not easily understood or explained.
Watching a Hollywood film with Nazis makes you want to see them all killed. Watching from a German perspective helps you realize that not everyone is a Nazi but in fact a human being.”
The film series, though it may not present a 100 percent accurate historical account of a post-war Germany, nonetheless represents, according to Eidt, a valuable opportunity for reflection. “I think film can be a tricky medium for ‘understanding’ history,” said Eidt. “No film in and of itself can explain things, but much like any art form, it can provoke critical thought and start a dialogue even within yourself about the nature of human experience.”
The two films to be shown here at UD are “The Forgotten Genocide” on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. in Lynch and “A Woman in Berlin,” which is to be shown on Sunday, Oct. 13 at the same time and in the same place.
The former is a 2010 film, directed by Ann Morrison, which according to the DGC website, “documents the fate of ethnic Germans in the former Yugoslavia during and after the war.” The second film, “A Woman in Berlin,” recounts the real experiences of a young woman who survived the battle of Berlin and saw the tragedies inflicted upon the German women by Russian soldiers.
The films and the following discussions will provide the students and the Dallas Goethe Center members a chance to discuss and share insights regarding the German perspective of post-war Europe.