Das Netzwerk Migration erhält seit 2006/2007 eine Betriebskosten- finanzierung von der Europäischen Union.

With the support of the European Union: Support for organisations active at European level in the field of active European citizenship.

Documentary Film "Behind Words"

Documentary Film by John Burgan (Writer & Director)
Scientific/Academic Consultation: Network Migration in Europe e. V.

“A magnificent elegy for a dying world”
Chris Marker

The documentary film “Behind Words” (German version: „Vorläufig für immer“) derived from the oral history project “Lost Dreams of Home: Refugees and Expulsed People in the Century of Flight”.

Behind Words describes an encounter with the history of flight and expulsion in the Europe of the 20th century. It raises questions of a potential handling with memories of flight and expulsion in order to make a new life possible.

On our journey we meet people who were confronted with this very issue. We travel from Berlin to Wrocław, the former Breslau, to the city of Prijedor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the still divided Cypress and to the non-existent Smyrna in Asia Minor, today Izmir/Turkey. Along the way, not only do we meet former refugees, their families and their offspring, but also a lot of writers, artists and musicians, whose work derives from the gruesome fate of having to produce work, which achieves a look at what lies “behind words”. 

Memories are passed on, even if they remain unspoken. Stories experience repetition and hence, turn into family myths. Sometimes the memories are too much: words turn into empty veneers, gestures and worn out rituals. Sometimes they turn into silent trauma because there are simply no words to describe the suffering. 

Gradually, individual stories amalgamate and transform into history, which plays a significant role on the contemporary political agenda.   

As the polish author Stefan Chwin provocatively expressed, was the expulsion of Poles from Russia and of Germans from Poland also a blessing in disguise? The slightest allusion to this assumption unleashed a controversial debate between Poles and Germans, although it was 60 years since the questionable events occurred.

In light of the undying outcry for compensation and national memorials on the one hand, and the striving for a “Europeanization” of the remembering-culture on the other, the British filmmaker and author, who lives in Berlin, travels through Europe and its history.  

Director: John Burgan, 88 min
A production of
HANFGARN & UFER Film- and TV-Production
in collaboration with Network Migration in Europe e. V.
and Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, MDR
© 2005