Strasburg Film Festival documentary Waiting for Waldemar is set during World War 2 and follows a family of Germans as they flee Ukraine to escape persecution. Halfway during their journey, their father disappears. Seventy years later, a brother and sister try to put together the pieces of who he was with their imaginations and third hand stories.
Director Biography – Eric Spoeth
Eric Spoeth has directed two full length documentaries and a dozen short films. His work includes working as an Assistant Director on Cut Bank, Blackstone, and other film and TV productions across Alberta. He decided to make this film about his grandfather after becoming a father of three children himself, and feeling the connection of his loss as a critical part of his family’s identity as German-Canadians.
We are confronted with a situation in our world today that is eerily reminiscent of a crisis that happened only 70 years ago. Syrian civilians have sought refuge in Germany by the millions. These women, children and men found themselves on the wrong side of a conflict that displaced them from their homes, their livelihoods and their family members. I made this film to show a side of World War 2 that isn’t taught in history books, but was the greatest refugee crisis of the age – when 15 million ethnic Germans were expelled from countries they had lived for hundreds of years, simply because of the DNA they had.
I grew up in Canada, unaware of the fact that my grandfather was part of this group of people who had no knowledge of the National Socialist party or the architects of the Holocaust, but who were killed or captured and sent to Siberia. I was called a Nazi in the schoolyard before I even knew what a Nazi was. My parents chose not to speak German or to speak about our ethnicity because of the stigma of being a German in Canada.
When I see the face of human suffering – the Syrian civilians of today, and I see history repeating itself – I feel the message of the film – that love endures all – is a message as pertinent to us in 2017 as it was in 1945.