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photo © Stefan Salm

“New Offenburg” - German-sounding but located in the USA, Missouri, sixty miles towards the south of St. Louis, in the county Ste. Genevieve that was once founded by French immigrants, a well-known ordinary scenery of rural America with common people. Behind the curtains of New Offenburg’s wooden farmhouses, however, lively marks of one of the most intense immigration periods in human history dating back to the mid-19th century can still be traced. Often unknown to their children and grandchildren, the elderly people of New Offenburg have kept alive an old German cultural identity characterized by a strong Catholicism, a mystical love to nature, and a notably dirty sense of humor inherent to the German dialect of farmers from Germany’s Black Forest. In fact, as kids of German immigrants in the USA, these elderly people did only speak this bizarre dialect typical for the area in the south of Germany called “Baden”. Becoming proper American citizens over the many years of their long lives, some of them have still a hidden knowledge of this dialect, which is still used today around the German city of Offenburg.

The documentary sheds light on the very last moments of a small regional German culture after surviving in a foreign country over more than 150 years – that even saw the temporary prohibition of the German language in the USA in the wake of the First World War. As the last generation remembering their old German dialect and rituals and behaviors of their culture of “Baden”, the people in this documentary probably add a final living chapter to German immigration to the USA that, as a matter of fact, can usually be found only in history books.
Genre Culture, History, Society
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2013
Director Johannes Suhm
Cinematography Stefan Salm
Cast Mary & Glennon Fischer, Martha Mary & Oswald Gegg, Betty Gegg & Valentine Naeger, Henry Hoog, The Naeger Brothers, Robert Mueller, Welton Gegg
Producer Johannes Suhm
Co-Producer Philipp Döring
Production Company Barrierifilm, in co-production with Blue Elephant/Berlin
Runtime 81 min
Format DCP, Blu-ray, color, 1:1.78
 English, Southern German dialect
Subtitled Versions English, German
Festivals Biberach 2013
With backing from MFG Baden-Württemberg

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