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The Flat (2011/2012)
Opened: 10/19/2012 Limited
|Lincoln Plaza||10/19/2012 - 12/20/2012||63 days|
|IFC Center||10/19/2012 - 11/18/2012||31 days|
|The Landmark||10/19/2012 - 11/08/2012||21 days|
|Film Forum/NYC||10/19/2012 - 10/25/2012||7 days|
|Town Center 5||11/02/2012 - 11/22/2012||21 days|
|Playhouse 7||11/02/2012 - 11/15/2012||14 days|
|Monica 4-Plex||11/09/2012 - 11/15/2012||7 days|
|Kendall Square...||11/30/2012 - 12/13/2012||14 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Israeli Documentary
At age 98, director Goldfinger's grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared for decades since immigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Sifting through a dense mountain of photos, letters, files, and objects, Goldfinger begins to uncover clues that seem to point to a greater mystery and soon a complicated family history unfolds before his camera. What starts to take shape reflects nothing less than the troubled and taboo story of three generations of Germans - both Jewish and non-Jewish - trying to piece together the puzzle of their lives in the aftermath of the terrible events of World War II.
Even if no one in our family will admit it whole-heartedly, the fact that we are descendants of German Jews has had a profound effect on shaping each of our personalities. And yet, the topic of our roots was never an issue or a subject for much discussion, in our daily life in Israel. Quite the contrary, the old-worldness of our grandparents was always treated with a sense of cynicism. They were, like their names Kurt and Gerda, foreign, from another culture, distant... Their 'flat' was always there. I visited it from as far back as I can remember; the heavy European furniture, the paintings, the porcelain collectibles, it was like a well preserved tableau of another world. But it was only after my grandmother's death that I realized that the flat contained a treasure that could illuminate the present as well as the past.
But is it important to know your families' history? Or is it too heavy burden? The answer you get will probably depend on the person whom you are asking. I have never gone through anyone else's pockets, or opened up someone else's secret drawer. Moreover, I have never even opened a letter that was not addressed to me. Yet all of a sudden, and against my will, these norms of proper yekke etiquette melted away, and I found myself unable to relinquish even the smallest piece of paper. Forces that were stronger than me compelled me back to the many piles of papers in the hope of finding more and more information to help shed light on the connections and clues to the story that was rapidly unfolding.
This is a film which attempts to bestow your family history, even if it is not a simple history, with a meaning that is significant to you. It is also an investigative expedition into the depths of denial and forgetfulness. Yet at the same time it is a film about human friendship that crosses enemy lines - and a love, from which you cannot shake free, for the motherland.
-- Arnon Goldfinger
The Haavara Agreement
Despite the terror of the Nazi regime, the wish to immigrate was not wide-spread among the German Jews in the beginning. Besides their affinity towards Germany, the main reasons for it were the lack of countries willing to admit them and the limitations on property that they were allowed to carry with them when leaving the country. The only country that was willing to take Jews at large was Palestine. The Zionist World Organization realized the necessity of promoting the immigration to Palestine through reliefs in the entrainment of property. Together with other representatives of the Zionist Organization, their chief delegate, Chaim Arklosoroff, conducted negotiations with the Reich's Ministry of Economy for a law that would allow immigration to Palestine to a large extent and under better conditions.
In August 1933 both sides signed the so-called Haavara Treaty, which functioned as follows: Jews that were willing to migrate deposited their property at one of the transfer banks in Germany. With this money, Palestinian importers bought merchandise from Germany and sold it in Palestine. The profits would be given back to the Jewish family, minus the expenses. Because the German government heavily taxed other forms of capital transfer, the Haavara treaty was a good opportunity to export Jewish property. Furthermore, indigent Jewish families had an opportunity to migrate through the treaty, as the "token money" of 1,000 Palestinian pounds (about 15,000 Reichsmark) was required to enter Palestine was financed by the profits of the merchandise transfer.
The agreement was heavily discussed within the Zionist movement. Zionist groups outside Germany supported the international economic boycott against Nazi Germany and fought the Haavara Treaty, as it undermined the boycott. In addition, the treaty, to a minor extent, allowed the Nazis important currency exchange revenues. At the 18th Zionist congress 1933 in Prague, the writer Schalom Asch called the treaty with the Hitler regime "treason against World Judaism." Chaim Arlosoroff was assassinated in 1933, which led back to his activity as lead negotiator with Germany for the Jewish Agency. Today the Haavara Treaty is referred to in many writings to show common interests between Zionism and National Socialism. The Israeli historian Tom Segev refers to the massive interest of the Zionist leadership in Jewish immigration from Germany, especially by David Ben Gurion, and furthermore to the travel to Palestine of the leading SS ideologist Leopold Itz von Mildenstein, which manifested itself in an enthusiastic series of articles in Joesph Goebbels' newspaper "Der Angriff" (September 26th to October 9th 1934).
The Nazi Regime was interested in the treaty for two reasons. On the one hand the possibility to transfer property should accelerate the Jewish immigration, on the other hand they hoped for higher revenues through the trades with Palestine and other countries in the Middle East.
While in its first years of existence the treaty was supported by most of the institutions of the Nazi regime and the NSDAP, the critique on this transfer mechanism increased from 1935 on. The Imperial Bank realized that the German side did not make enough money in foreign currency, but furthermore had to finance the "token money" out of their pocket; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the economic boycott did not resemble a great threat to Germany. The security service feared that the treaty could supported the establishment of a Jewish state, which could serve the Jews as a "basis of power" in their fight against Germany. From 1937, most of the government distanced itself from the support of the transfer treaty. The terms and the extent of the treaty declined more and more. The common view became prevalent, that the treaty did not quite accelerate Jewish emigration as desired. Instead, the government increased the pressure on the Jewish population by chasing them down. Only a personal decision of Hitler in 1938 enabled the treaty to prevail. The treaty was discontinued officially in 1941, the transfer of property having already stopped at the beginning of the war. Until 1939, more than 50,000 Jewish families migrated through the Haavara treaty, taking with them property worth 140 million Reichsmark.