[vergessene Fahnen]

11 days in December. Florian Thalhofer and Juliane Henrich travelled through Germany. On this trip, initiated by the Goethe-Institut they were looking for the forgotten flags of the soccer-world-cup and their owners. They collected images and interviews for a Korsakow-Film, that is presented by the Goethe-Institut. Exepts of the travelogue (translation by Wenzel Bilger).


Day 1 - Saturday, December 2, 2006 - Berlin

My neighbor is our first port of call. His flag, which has obscured the view out of my kitchen window for the last six months, inspired this project in the first place. Mr Fluck is home. He's a bit pressed for time and he needs to clean up his flat as he had people over last night. The last ones left at 5 am. He wants to clear up first and sends us up on the roof. It's lovely and sunny, and two ragged German flags are flapping in the wind. Mr Fluck, an estate agent, specialises in old properties. He owns the entire house.

Mr Neuburger in Berlin’s Neukölln district has filled his balcony with German flags, Santas and strings of Christmas lights. People smile as they pass his flat on the way to work. And the tourists in the hotel across the road take pictures. Mr Neuburger is known in Japan and the US.

Day 2 - Sunday, December 3, 2006 - Brandenburg

We drive out of the city. Jule counts the German flags. There are loads. By evening, she’ll have counted 31. A gate in the village of Sommerfeld is painted in black, red and yellow. Behind the gate is a courtyard with a caravan that functions as a kind of snack bar.

Tag 03 - Montag, 4.12.2006
Steinhagen, Warnemünde, Wismar, Mecklenburg Vorpommern

Day 4 - Tuesday, December 5, 2006 - Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein

Mr Besser is 86 and hasn’t taken a holiday in 46 years. He owns a white high-rise apartment building from the 1970s. An enormous German flag flaps away in the wind high up on the roof. “The Germans should work!” he shouts over the phone. “I’m 86 and I haven’t had a holiday in 46 years. I have no time for you. Goodbye!” We want to talk to him. Jule tries next. “Goodbye!” Mr Besser shouts and hangs up.

Mrs Risch’s husband is an executive at food company Schwartau. We enjoy interviewing him and have a long chat, accompanied by tea and biscuits. We depart from their farm with home-made apple juice and a bag of apples.

Mrs Brusgatis breeds dogs and her husband works as a night watchman for 7 euros 50 before tax. She gets up every morning at 2 am to do her paper round, for 200 euros a month.

Tag 05 - Mittwoch, 6.12.2006
Schwedeneck, Schleswig-Holstein

Day 6 - Thursday, December 7, 2006 - Wienhausen, Heessel, Lower Saxony

At the jewellers in Wienhausen, across from Voss’ B&B, you can have your passport photographs taken. A red VW Passat stops outside. The driver needs photographs for his new driver's licence. A German flag has been attached to his car since the World Cup. It’s the third. What happens when it gets too ragged? He points to the seat, where the fourth is lying ready.
Ms von Döhren was once Abbess of the Wienhausen convent near Celle. She was pleased when people started to hang flags in their windows for the World Cup. She has no time for football, but she thinks symbols are important. Her flag is up next to the church newsletter.

Day 7 - Friday, December 8, 2006 - Dortmund Nordstadt, North-Rhine/Westphalia

Klaus Salman is proud to be German. He came here 38 years ago from Turkey. 20 years ago his luck ran out. He developed stomach cancer and had an operation. That saved his life, but then his wife left him and took their four children with her. Mr Salman sits alone in his fourth-floor flat in north Dortmund. He chain-smokes and looks down into the street. He's hung a German flag in his window. The wind tore it away one time, but Mr Salman was lucky. He found it in the street. After that he nailed the flag down and now it can withstand even gale-force winds. Mr Salman's wife tried to kill him. They had a fist-fight and she hit him squarely on the wound from his operation. The children pleaded with them to stop. They then separated. Klaus used to be called Remzí before he changed his name. A solicitor helped him with the divorce, even when his money ran out. He also helped him become a German. Remzí wanted a German name to go with his new passport. Changing his last name was too expensive, so he had to make do with a new first name. He chose his solicitor’s first name. “He’s a good man,” says Mr Salman. “I would have named my son after him, but I won’t ever have another son.” Klaus Salman looks out of his fourth-floor window and smokes. The German flag flapping next to him is upside down.

Day 8 - Saturday, December 9, 2006 - Sörgenloch, Weinolsheim, Rhineland-Palatinate

Outside Hans Michael Seidel’s house is a flagpole with a German flag, and not just since the World Cup. Mr Seidel likes Joschka Fischer and represents the CDU party in the municipal council. When the French guests from the twin town in the Champagne region arrive, he installs the Tricolour. The guests love it.

Before the World Cup, a Danish flag hung outside Mr Orth’s house in Weinolsheim. There was another one outside Mr Fruth’s house opposite. The Danish peace flag, in fact. Mr Orth shows us his flag. He brought it back from Denmark and his enthusiasm spread over the road to the other side. Daniel Müller is proud of Germany in general and its social security system in particular. He wanted to demonstrate his allegiance for a long time, but before the World Cup, flying the German flag had an unwelcome connotation. To mark the World Cup he hung a flag using wire and the lamppost outside his house, which works as long as the flag doesn’t get wrapped up in itself in the wind.

Day 09 - Sunday, December 10, 2006
Schwäbische Alb, Baden-Württemberg

Ariane Kuncicky is 20. Ariane votes CDU. She uses the mast off her surfboard as a flagpole. Her German flag has been up for a long time, but she added the Czech flag during the World Cup. Ariane’s brother Stefan just turned 18. He wants to join the army. Rolf Siegele is pleased that we've come to visit and ask questions about the World Cup. His flag has an integrated horizontal bar to prevent it from folding up when there's no wind.

Day 10 - Monday, December 11, 2006 - Schwandorf, Bavaria

Schwandorf is my home town. We drive through Ettmannsdorf, the part I grew up in. We spot a German flag in the garden surrounding a large house. We stop and ring the bell. Sandra Eichinger opens the door. Her maiden name was Braun and she recognises me instantly. We used to go to kindergarten together. And primary school, years 1 to 4. Sandra trained as a hairdresser and now works in a beverage cash-and-carry. Her husband is a crane operator and is out and about a lot. People in other countries also hang flags outside their houses. Sandra saw it on TV. She has never been abroad herself. She’s not interested, she says.

Hans Scheuerer is the landlord of the Schwanenwirtschaft inn in Ettmannsdorf. He has hung German flags off the two flagpoles attached to his house. He had to keep a far closer eye on the Bavarian flags he had up there previously, as they were in constant danger of being nicked. You could reach the Bavarian flags from the ground. The German flags are shorter though.

Tag 11 - Dienstag, 12.12.2006
Leipzig, Sachsen

Peter Mendel, known as Mendelsohn, has both an unusual name and an unusual life story. Born to a Jewish family in Innsbruck, he came to Leipzig with his family. The Wall went up five years later. Mr Mendel, known as Mendelsohn, has always worn his heart on his sleeve. That has gotten him into trouble a couple of times.

Update - Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Thunderstorm over Berlin. I look out of the window. Mr Flucks flag is gone.