16 May. 2023

Walter Kaufmann: What a life! A film by Karin Kaper & Dirk Szuszies

Join us on May 16, 7:00PM, at the Angelika Film Center, for a free screening of a feature documentary following the life of Jewish German-Australian writer Walter Kaufmann (1924-2021).

Get your free tickets here.

Since his youth, Kaufmann has sided with the persecuted and disenfranchised on earth. His thirst for adventure is the expression of an alert mind that wanted to see the world with its own eyes.

The film traces his life through some of the most important events and tremors of the last century: the catastrophic consequences of National Socialism, the civil rights movement in the USA, the legendary trial against Angela Davis, the Cuban Revolution, the confrontation with Stalinism, the effects of the atomic bombing in Japan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the collapse of the GDR, and the return of nationalistic, anti-Semitic currents in Germany.

Kaufmann was born in 1924 in Berlin to the poor, young Polish Jew Rachel Schmeidler, named Jizchak. Three years later, a wealthy Duisburg couple adopted him. In contrast to his adoptive parents Johanna and Sally Kaufmann, Walter Kaufmann was able to escape the persecution by the Nazis and saved himself as a teenager with a children’s transport to England. He was interned there and shipped by the British on the notorious ship “Dunera” to Australia, where he had to spend almost two years in an internment camp.

He became an Australian soldier, wedding photographer, seaman and later an award-winning writer. In the mid-1950s he made a conscious decision to live in the GDR. He kept his Australian passport, was allowed to leave the country as a journalist and writer and processed this experience in numerous reports and books that appeared in extremely large numbers in the GDR. From 1985 to 1993 he was General Secretary of the PEN Center. He was awarded high-ranking awards such as the Fontane Prize, the Heinrich Mann Prize and the Ruhr Area Literature Prize.

Walter Kaufmann died on April 15, 2021 at the age of 97 in Berlin. This film is a rare last opportunity for young and older viewers to get to know the 20th century from the perspective of this contemporary witness.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the directors.

Walter Kaufmann: Welch ein Leben! (Walter Kaufmann: What a Life!)

Germany | 2021 | 99 min


Karin Kaper, Dirk Szuszies






Deutsche Film- und Medienbewertung Seal of Approval ‘highly recommended’

JFBB – Jüdische Filmfestival Berlin und Brandenburg

Filmkunstfest Schwerin

Leipziger Filmkunstmesse

Find out more at www.walterkaufmannfilm.de