A mature observation of director Katzir who visits Berlin ” The Forbidden City” for her generation, only after the death of her parents.
Her own father escaped the Nazis in 1933.
Katzir has to overcome the Holocaust psychological barrier, as well as the personal disappointment of the irreversible cut of her family roots in Berlin.
But then she has an unexpected revelation about Berlin: That from all the cities in the world not Paris or London or New York influenced the vibrant young city of Tel Aviv.
It is Berlin that transformed Tel -Aviv through the Jews who fled from Hitler, from the first small Hebrew city into a world class metropolitan.
From a Kleinstadt to a Grosstadt. An unknown fact, a striking historical irony, a moving film.
For my generation, who grew up in Israel after World War II, Germany was the source of evil, and Berlin the Capital of Hitler, a ” Forbidden City” No one dared or wanted to visit. We grew up in Tel Aviv which was labeled in our national narrative as the “The first modern Hebrew city”, in the renewed homeland of Israel.
Only after the death of my parents, I have realized how little I know about my father’s previous life before he came to Israel. At that point I found the courage to decide that I’ll pay a visit to Berlin the home town of my father which he left escaping the Nazis in 1933. I wanted to see with my own eyes the places that molded him as a young person. I probably hoped that I’ll find some roots and maybe some relatives too. What I designed as a personal –private trip turned out to be a completely different voyage.
After overcoming the “Holocaust barrier” , I started to follow my father’s footsteps in the city,
Going to Moabit Hospital where he worked for 10 years, and to the Zoo , to his synagogue, to Van zee Jewish Cemetery, to the Pergamum Museum etc. I didn’t find any family roots but in every field or turn I saw resemblances to Tel Aviv. At certain moments Tel Aviv and Berlin have intermingled in their likeness. Step after step I had to undergo a complete transformation in my point of view of Berlin. I started to realize that for the Zionist narrative which I grew up with it was impossible to spell out that The First Hebrew city was so meaningfully influenced by Berlin.
After a week I wanted to go back and just to say Thank you to the Yekkes- the German Jews who were forced out of their homeland and came to Israel . They have changed Tel Aviv and transformed it from a Little Warsaw or little Edessa into a Grosse Staadt –a metropolitan city.
Then I found an Article in Palestine Post 04-08-1933 by Dorothy Chan entitled:
“What Hitler has Done to Tel Aviv”, At that moment I understood that the irony of History is more complex and bustled.