Diarist of a Dark Age

The Freiburg Journalist Käthe Vordtriede

She was a strong woman. The first female journalist in Freiburg, Germany, a politician, a single mother of two children, a socialist from a wealthy family: Käthe Vordtriede. Of all the things she could have become, the Nazis made her – a Jewish housemaid.

In 1933, the Nazis forbade her to work, but she continued to write: with intensity, sarcasm, and humor. In her letters to her son, Werner, in an entry to a Harvard University competition, she described how Freiburg had been taken over by the Nazis; how they had destroyed her publisher’s offices; how the Nazi neighborhood watchman spied on her; how she survived the night the synagogues burned in Freiburg. Her letters and her autobiography have now been published in book form and have drawn a great deal of attention.

Käthe Vordtriede finally managed to flee to New York via Switzerland. In America she struggled through as a housekeeper and babysitter. Just after making the decision to return to Germany, she died in New York in 1964. It was a week before her body was found...

This documentary traces the life of Käthe Vordtriede: in Germany, in Switzerland, in New York. Together with former neighbors and friends, the film recalls Freiburg’s first female journalist, a profile of an extraordinary woman.

Press Review:

Badische Zeitung:
Sigrid Faltin’s carefully and artistically filmed documentary portrays the tragedy of this life beneath the surface – without exploiting it. She has produced an insightful commentary of the photographs in two albums archived in Marbach, Germany, and using historical scenes, has depicted a dramatic time in Freiburg between two world wars.

English version available at request

Rerun

Feb 23, 6.30pm, Zehntscheuer Freiburg-Haslach, Markgrafenstrasse

Produced by

SWR

A film by

Sigrid Faltin

Year

2001

Running time

30 min.

Team

  • Camera: Hardy Ottersbach
  • Sound: Stefan Sommer
  • Editor: Horst Hildbrand

Online here

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films

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