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'After the Escape:' Documentary about exile and integration

Vera Tellmann
December 20, 2017

Fleeing your homeland to start a new life in a foreign country: Saša Stanišic, Aeham Ahmad and several other artists share their stories in DW’s online and TV special “After the Escape.”

DW Nach der Flucht Ahmad Titel EN
Image: DW/A. Steffes-Halmer

“No one understood us and we didn’t understand anyone. The only thing that we could say in German was ‘Lothar Matthäus,’” said German-Bosnian author Saša Stanišic, who came to Germany as a refugee.

Stanišic is one of five protagonists in “After the Escape.” These cultural personalities reflect in a virtuous, poetic and intelligent way about their experiences as refugees trying to find their way in a new place. They hail from four continents, fled war, disaster or persecution only to land in a foreign country.

DW Nach der Flucht Saša Stanišic
Saša StanišicImage: DW/H. Mund

Four of them ended up in Germany: Syrian pianist Aeham Ahmad, Nigerian-German musician Nneka Egbuna, Chilean author and director Antonio Skármeta and Stanišic. Writer Judith Kerr, who fled Nazi Germany for England, also talks about her experiences after the escape.

The stories show how integration can be successful as well as the obstacles that can prevent this. “I had never been anywhere where someone could simply say what he or she needed and got it immediately. Like free education,” said Nneka Egbuna about her beginning days in Germany. “When someone called me a ‘Nigger,’ I thought: Am I a nigger? Wow, I had no idea.”

With their books, films and music, our protagonists show how they have tried to make a strange place their home. “The portraits show how immigrants have enriched the arts, culture and society in their adopted homeland. This is a documentary that provokes thought and at the same time inspires courage,” said DW’s Managing Director of Programming Gerda Meuer.

“After the Escape,” a project from the DW culture team with online and social media content, will be made available in numerous languages with a Pageflow special.

DW Nach der Flucht Judith Kerr
Judith KerrImage: DW
DW Nach der Flucht Nneka Egbuna
Nneka EgbunaImage: DW/A. Steffes-Halmer