A production of Possible World, 2014
Berliner Projektfonds Kulturelle Bildung
How was it in the past? Deaf contemporary witnesses report.
How did it use to be in school? Was sign language forbidden? How was it to learn to speak? Were you persecuted by the Nazis? How did you experience the war? And is ist easier today for deaf people?...
A research project as part of the production THE DEAF TIME MACHINE. Some film interviews were featured in the theatre play.
Seniors: Mrs Brümmel / Mrs Costrau / Mrs Hirsch / Mrs Klatt / Mrs Meier / Mrs Mohr / Mr Schubert / Mrs Schubert
Interviewee about Cochlea Implantat: Mr and Mrs Germar
Interviewer: Asya Avagyan / Hend El-Kadi / Inara Ilyasova / Cordula Zielonka / Eyk Kauly / Nikola Vujicic / Frank Weigang / Wille Felix Zante
DIRECTOR Michaela Caspar / VIDEO Jens Kupsch / VIDEODESIGN Marcel Fiedler / CLOTHING Gabriele Wischmann / SIGN LANGUAGE TRANSMISSION Anka Böttcher
On 14th of July 1933, the law to prevent future generations suffering a hereditary disease was passed by the Third Reich government. The law decreed that those suffering from a hereditary disease should be sterilised "rendered infertile by surgical intervention".
Cutting from an interview:
Where were you born in Berlin?
Charlottenburg. Charlottenburg, Preußenallee.
Are you deaf from birth?
Do you have deaf relatives?
Yes, my grandpareents on my mother''s side are deaf. My father comes from a hearing family.
Where from did the Nazis know whose parents were partially deaf?
There used to be a document which stated: Grandparents deaf, uncles deaf, and they, they had to be sterilized..., with heredity, otherwise not. These families were sterilized.
Was your mother sterilised?
Yes, mummy yes.
Wher was your mother sterilised?
In Berlin, where excatly, I don't know.
Cutting from an interview:
No, on the 12th of May I was born into the world as a hearing person. And in September, October, 1944 was a heavy bomb scare. That is how I lost my hearing.
Where did you grow up?
Where I grew up? In Berlin Steglitz. My brothers and sisters grew up in Falkensee. They both could hear. Because my parents could not hear, they sent me to my grandparents. My grandma went through a lot of trouble and taught me how to speak. But don't ask me how and what I had to suffer.
Did your grandmother talk to you in sign language?
My grandmother did not allow me to sign. My grandmother forbade me to sign.
What was the nicest experience in your childhood?
I was beaten a lot as a child. By my grandmother, by my father, by my uncle, by my great-aunt - I have had enough. I would not like to be a child again.
Did you have deaf teachers at the school?
All teachers could hear. Everybody. At that time there were no deaf teachers. That did not exist at that time.
Was it hard to learn to speak without hearing?
Actually, yes it was. But one could feel what the sound sounds like through touch. Whether it was even or if there was a beeping sound. One can feel the sound, for example with the help of a ball that vibrates when you hold it. If music is playing, one touches the ball or the someone knocks on the table – you can feel this. Or if one stomps with the feet, the ground shakes. This I can also feel.
How did your grandmother teach you how to speak?
When I did not pronounce the word correctly for the third, fourth or fifth time, I was slapped in the face. This was not nice. I also jumped out of the window from the first floor, because I did not want to speak anymore. I wanted to be left alone. It was very exhausting.
How important is sign language for you?
To me, sign language is my mother tongue. That is all I can say about it. If you cannot hear, sign language is very important. It is our mother tongue.