WHAT REMAINS captures over 70 years of German history and introduces two families who couldn’t be more different. It is one of the first documentary films that illuminates the internal family discussion about the holocaust both from the side of its victims as well as from the side of its perpetrators. The film shows hauntingly that the past will always be a part of the present, even though everyone feels and lives the effects differently.


WHAT REMAINS celebrated its premiere in April 2008 at the Int. Film Festival in Cologne and was afterwards warmly received at the Int. Film Festival in Emden.

It is found in the media centres of the most important Holocaust memorials around the world: Yad Vashem (Jerusalem), the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington DC, USA), the memorial of the House of the Wannsee conference (Berlin, Germany), the Ravensbrück Memorial Museum (Fürstenberg, Germany) and the Wiener Library (London, UK). It was presented at the bpb- Conference “Perperators In a Global Context” in January 2009 in Berlin, screened within the “New Cinema of NS-History” film program at the Topography of Terror in Berlin, shown at the Holocaust Memorial at the former Ravensbrück concentration camp and on various other different occasions. Nationwide in Germany the movie was bought by schools and is being used for school education.

Living, to Spread the Word
When she was just 17, Erna chose to remain with her mother during the deportation – accompanying her even on her final journey to Auschwitz, when she could have chosen to remain behind. She promised her mother to tell the world of the horrors she experienced there, something she is still doing today. Her daughter Ruth and her granddaughter Rebecca see it as their family assignment to pass that history on. However, Ruth is painfully aware that she will never be able to help her mother come to terms with her experiences.

The Search
Dietlinde on the other hand found out in her teens that the woman who raised her was not her real mother, but her aunt. Whilst researching her family history, she learned that her mother had been a concentration camp guard and had died in 1945. To this day she is trying to find out what sort of person her mother really was. She cannot stop researching even though her pain is getting stronger the more she engages herself in this quest. Dietlinde’s daughter Eva keeps an emotional distance from that side of her family. Only on rare occasions does she show her fear of probably having inherited a brutal cruelty.

The film shows women who are in different ways connected to Germany’s past and it’s present. Their narration is considered and thoughtful but at times they also seem at a loss over how to see themselves, what their childhood experiences were or how to transmit their family history to their own children, always stamped by the commanding theme of the past. WHAT REMAINS follows Dietlinde in her difficult research trip to Ravensbrück and to the Lebensborn-home in Austria where she was born. The camera also follows the protagonists in intimate visits to their homes. Through the frank approach of the protagonists and with an insightful montage, a dialogue is built up within and between the families.

Length: 58 min.
Language: German
Subtitles: English
Format: Digi Beta PAL / DVD Region 0, PAL
Aspect Ratio: 16:9