Immediately at the film´s beginning we run up against a boundary stone, a relic of a past age, made of nearly indestructible granite. In the middle of a forest which seems idyllic in the twilight, it marks an otherwise invisible division: Bavaria on one side, the Czech Republic on the other.
Johannes Holzhausen´s Woman´s Day is a documentary miniature that begins at this place. It clearly portrays the fault lines of history in the circumstances of a family and individual lives. A grouchy old man. A woman who was abruptly separated from her lover. A son who disappeared into the underground for ten years. They are the protagonists of an arrangement centered on borders, borders that still have an effect even if they are no longer officially recognized - as immobile as if they were made of granite.
Old Wenzel more than anyone has never given up his grudge against the Czechs. He and Emma come from the same village, which was moved to German territory after the war. His nationalism is a symptom of bruised male pride. Emma, the woman he once loved, chose someone from the other wide, a Czech, instead of him.
Holzhausen reveals views of a constellation in which history begins to resemble a drama. Each detail helps correct the overall picture. For example, there is nothing about forbidden love in Emma´s reminiscences. She ignored the political situation with a pure heart. For Wenzel, on the other hand, the story remains a vivid part of the present. Every August 15th, on Women´s Day, he pesters Emma with phone calls. His son, Herbert, who refused to serve in the military, must prove that he is German with the aid of documents from a lost era. History takes an ironic turn when it repeats itself.
Translation: Steve Wilder
up in the #Bügellohe#.
0002: You can see some degenerated houses ...
0003: and down there in the Czech part
behind the border ...
0004: used to be a small town called #Wenzelsdorf#.
0005: Before the locals were expelled
from #Wenzelsdorf ...#
0006: they already had properties
on the Bavarian side.
0007: During the eviction ...
0008: they built new homes on those properties.
0009: In 1945/1946 they settled down here ...
0010: and brought with them
their essential belongings ...
0011: and tried to live a decent life here.
0012: This area is pretty cut off.
0013: There was no future in living
in the #Bügellohe#.
0014: I know all the stories about the #Bügellohe ...#
0015: but just from what I was told.
0016: I am too young to have witnessed
how people lived here,
0017: things that happened here.
0019: Here we go.
0020: It's working again.
0021: The water always gets blocked.
0022: We have to open it up.
0023: I just need to give my son a hand.
0024: Let's put that there ...
0025: for later.
0026: This here, this is my homeland.
0027: I was born in #Wenzelsdorf#, Czechoslovakia.
0028: We used to run a small farm
before we were evicted.
0029: This is the barrier gate
which has not always been here.
0030: From here you get down to #Wenzelsdorf#.
0031: As you can see on the Bavarian side
it says D.B.,
0032: on the other side it says
C S for Czechoslovakia.
0033: Today it is called Slovakia. Czechia!
0034: And here ...
0035: when we were annected in 1938 ...
0036: three young men tried to knock over
that boundary stone ...
0037: with a sledgehammer as a sign of freedom.
0038: But this is granite so they only managed
to chip off a corner.
0039: I was part of all this.
0040: The border runs here through the woods.
0041: In 1945 a big wave of refugees came over ...
0042: and people had to flee from the Czechs ...
0043: and hide in the haystacks.
Czech men came ...
0044: and shot at them.
0045: There was hatred.
0046: Why did this all happen...
0047: They really did not need to chase us away.
0048: A community of just 64 households!
0049: Children were born ...
0050: and mothers were still in labour, crying.
0051: I was one of those children.
0052: Then we had to leave for good.
0053: I often asked myself:
0054: God, why have you sent us such misery?
0055: When I go to my birthplace ...
0056: I think to myself: this is the end.
0057: I say to my son:
One day the pain will crush me.
0058: In 1945 we had to settle here
in the #Bügellohe#.
0059: We used to steal trees from the border ...
0060: to build our first house.
0061: A certain Czech forester ...
0062: noticed that wood went missing.
0063: So we arranged ...
0064: not alone but in a group of 4-5 ...
0065: that if we see him ...
0066: we would beat him up ...
0067: that Czech guy.
0068: He was sent to #Wenzelsdorf# by the
Czech authorities. He was all on his own.
0069: So he needed a cook ...
0070: as well as something for his cock.
0071: So he picked a woman.
0072: Emma Hüttl was her name.
0073: She lived over there.
0074: One day he would hit on her.
0075: He asked if she wanted to help him
around the house.
0076: She agreed to go with him.
0077: And shortly after he got her pregnant ...
0078: with a boy.
0079: The Czech man kicked us out ...
0080: and a German girl gives herself to him.
0081: Damn it, how despicable!
0082: That's simply perverted!
0083: Those are stuck in really well.
0084: There are not many photographs...
0085: This is the house in the #Bügellohe#.
0086: Our property was close to the border.
0087: I remember when Dr. Seidel took that picture.
0088: This was at home.
0089: All those pictures are of our home.
0090: I met him in the spring of 1946.
0091: Jan used to live in the foresters house
0092: He asked me if I could give him a hand
with his household.
0093: So there we were,
on our own together in the foresters house.
0094: And we fell in love instantly.
0095: That came out of nowhere.
0096: Just like that.
0097: In a situation like that I never expected ...
0098: to actually meet a man.
0099: It just happened. I cant explain how.
0100: He looked at me,
I looked at him and we fell for each other.
0101: Soon after we had ...
0103: A year later Jan crossed the border
to come back to the #Bügellohe#.
0104: He told me how ...
0105: he had managed to walk from #Weissensulz#
through the woods ...
0106: to avoid the roads.
0107: At that time no Czech civilians
were allowed near the border anymore.
0108: Within a radius of 4 km from the border
no civilians were allowed.
0109: I didn't even know about it until Jan told me.
0110: So he had to find a way through the woods.
0111: Before he left his sister said to him:
0112: I'll pray for you. Please return safely.
0113: But at that stage ...
0114: he wasn't feeling well anymore.
0115: I didn't know what was really wrong with him.
0116: He was with me only for that one day.
0117: And then I received a message ...
0118: a year later ...
0119: saying that he had died.
0120: This says: Here he was already ill.
0122: Jan's sister told me that he ...
0123: had suffered from pneumonia.
0124: She said that he died
with my picture in his hands.
0125: I was devastated about the burden
I had put upon myself.
0126: I managed to sort it out myself,
I was strong enough.
0127: But you have to deal with it.
0128: She was 21, 22 years old.
0129: Who at that age isn't pretty and handsome?
0130: We would have been the perfect match.
0131: I was 21 years old ...
0132: without a penny in my pockets.
0133: And I thought to myself ...
0134: I would never get married.
0135: With that Czech guy...
0136: She shouldn't have done that.
0137: Gee, Wenzel.
0138: One day I walked out onto the street
from our house ...
0139: to find a wooden board.
0140: A wooden sign placed on our property.
0141: Like a signpost to our house ...
0142: with an arrow pointing to us.
0143: It said: To the Czechs.
0144: He probably had worked on it overnight
and then put it up.
0145: Of course I was being addressed.
0146: Czechs: this way.
0147: Why did he do that?
0148: Out of revenge ...
0149: because I didn't ...
0150: - how shall I put it -
0151: return his affection.
0152: He followed me everywhere.
0153: Whatever I did, he was after me.
0154: Even in the #Bügellohe#,
0155: he would tell me again in person ...
0156: that he would marry me instantly.
0157: Even though I had my child, Herbert.
0158: I told him I was not interested.
0160: You mix boiled potatoes and flour,
0161: make little dumpling shapes, then fry them.
0162: Just outside the #Bügellohe#,
0163: across the border,
0164: what used to be Czechoslovakia,
0165: was a grove of fir trees.
0166: When I was a child those trees
seemed of immense dimensions.
0167: Looking up those huge trees ...
0168: I was thinking to myself:
0169: This tree keeps growing endlessly.
0170: You can be like that one day.
0171: Which brings us to my parents' story.
0172: Their love was always hindered by a border.
0173: If that border had not existed ...
0174: fate would have taken a different turn.
0175: The only obstacle for me
has always been the border.
0176: That fact reinforced my wish ...
0177: for a future without borders.
0178: In 1965 I turned 18.
0179: I received a letter from
the Ministry of Defence ...
0180: saying that I was registered
for the military service.
0181: So within a month ...
0182: I had to decide whether to join or not.
0183: A week before the deadline
I decided against it.
0184: I knew I would handle it ...
0185: because personally it was important to me ...
0186: to stick to my path.
0187: No matter in what form
the state has me registered.
0188: At random the state ...
0189: drew a borderline through my fate.
0190: Never mind what state.
0191: To me the nation state ...
0192: means blocking my perspectives,
my future, my way.
0193: Right or wrong is not the issue.
It is the way I chose.
0194: It is simply my freewill.
0195: My actions made me delinquent for ten years.
0196: So the consequence was to disappear.
0197: In 1965-1966 I went into hiding ...
0198: for ten years until 1975.
0199: I had planned to travel to China.
0200: To make it work I needed a job ...
0201: and moreover a passport.
0202: I had always managed to
get across the Austrian ...
0203: and French border illegally with fake IDs.
0204: Getting on a plane to China though
was a different story.
0205: On January 29th, 1976 I returned from hiding.
0206: That's how I used to look.
0207: This tree ...
0208: we came up to one time
just before Christmas.
0209: I used some cardboard,
0210: which is stronger than paper,
0211: to write this:
0212: #Wenzelsdorf#. Homeland.
0213: Merry Christmas.
0214: The next time we came up here ...
0215: the message was gone.
0216: Czechs did that.
0217: German and Czech: like that.
0218: Why not Czechia?
0219: I don't know.
0220: I am 40 years old.
0221: 40 years.
0222: What do I have to do with that?
0223: Eduard Bene.
0224: Yes, Eduard Bene...
0226: 3 million Germans gone, like that!
0227: In #Doma¶lice#: One, two, three soldiers.
0228: By tractor:
0229: #Ple, Rappauf, Vaclavov.#
0231: By car, by tractor:# Doma¶lice#...
0232: I see.
0233: But Hitler,
0234: he didn't beat around the bush either.
0235: But Hitler, he wasn't...
0236: Fuck it.
0237: #Where is my home, my fatherland#
0238: Yes, yes.
-You know it?
0239: #Thunder and lightning over the Tatra#
0240: I cannot sing.
0242: And I'm German!
0243: No, I'm no German.
0244: That's the Czech anthem.
0245: Good luck!
0247: See you!
0248: That could work.
0249: I'll plant it in the #Bügellohe#.
0250: That's the one. Down there.
0251: I have been married to Nuria for four years.
0252: Since my wife ...
0253: wants to try for the German citizenship ...
0254: we need to find out ...
0255: if in fact I am a German citizen myself.
0256: Your birth certificate from #Oberviechtach...#
0257: ...is not enough.
0258: I will also need your birth certificate
as well as grandfather's marriage certificate.
0259: Supposedly issued not longer
than six months ago.
0260: Exactly. It should not be older ...
0261: than six months.
0262: Those documents will enable me to apply for ...
0263: - what's it called again -
the "Nationality Certificate".
0264: Only then can I apply for the ...
0265: German citizenship for my wife.
0266: Where is your birth certificate?
0267: Where was it issued
or where can we have it done?
0268: We had it done in the parish of #Plöss#.
0269: My birth certificate...
0270: Let's check here ...
0271: in the "Small Aryan Certificate".
It is recorded in here.
0272: Birth place, here it says: #Wenzelsdorf#.
0273: I wonder if that still applies today
if you have no other proof of identity.
0274: That is an "Arbeitsbuch"
used in the Hitler regime.
0275: Is this from uncle Rudi?
0276: This is from my brother ...
0277: who perished in Stalingrad.
0278: That is very complicated.
Normally you would need ...
0279: at least half a day for a case like this.
0280: "Application for Issuing
a Nationality Certificate".
0281: "Between 1938 and 1949 did you receive ...
0282: a German Nationality Pass?"
0283: "If so, by which administration office?"
0284: I cannot answer this.
0285: "Were you registered appurtenant
to the German people,
0286: meaning did you acknowledge being affiliated
to the German people?"
0287: "Is German your mother tongue?"
0288: "How can you prove that?"
0289: That's ridiculous,
0290: we never spoke anything but German.
0291: "After December 5th, 1941
were you commissioned ...
0292: a German Identification Card?"
0293: "If so, by which administration office?"
0294: "What colour was the identification card?"
0295: I cannot remember even remotely.
0296: #Let us remember those ...#
0297: #who in the horrible years of war,#
0298: #of bombing,#
0299: #eviction, of captivity ...#
0300: #and imprisonment ...#
0301: #also in Czech camps
had to sacrifice their lives.#
0302: #Often they were buried in unholy soil.#
0303: #I remind you ...#
0304: #that the Charter of the Sudeten Germans ...#
0305: #more than 50 years ago
written in the new homeland says that ...#
0306: #even though we were expelled
from our native land ...#
0307: #we would abstain from revenge
0308: Edeltraud, has Wenzel crossed your path, too?
0309: Yes, in the #Bügellohe#.
0310: We went for a hike and there he stood ...
0311: behind his fence ...
0312: with an axe.
0313: Then he asked me...
0314: Actually I can't remember
how we got talking about who I was.
0315: I mentioned I was from #Stadlern#,
that I was Emma's daughter.
0316: Then he started swearing ...
0317: about the Czechs and about you.
0318: About nationalities.
0319: I said it makes no difference ...
0320: if one has a child with a Czech or a German ...
0321: or anybody else.
0322: Then he asked if I had any national pride.
0323: A week before Christmas ...
0324: we received a call.
0325: The phone rang and I picked up.
0326: The person on the other end mumbled
and I said: "What's up?"
0327: Then he goes: "Czech whore!"
0328: And I said...
0329: Am I allowed to say what I replied?
0331: Are you sure?
0332: Oh dear! I told him:
0333: "Kiss my arse!" and hung up.
0334: He had called you that even years earlier.
0335: On August 15th he would always ring
and say the same to me ...
0336: because he probably thought I was you,
0337: that you would be in #Stadlern#.
0338: Every year on August 15th he would ring.
0339: I hear that for the first time.
0340: Perhaps because August 15th ...
0341: is the day the Sudeten Germans gather.
0342: Exactly when the residents of #Wenzelsdorf# meet -
on #Woman's Day#.
0343: He is still relentless.
0344: It's 58 years.
0345: After 58 years ...
0346: he still rings to call me "Czech whore".
0347: I can't believe it.