Deutsche Heimkehrer LFS000236 1)

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Events filmed or related

Evakuierung deutsche Bevölkerung, deutsche Truppentransporte über den Rhein, Zerstörungen im Elsass


Evakuierte Einwohner aus dem Kreis Lahr auf dem Weg in ihre neuen Unterkünfte (Anfang Juni 1940) u. deren Rückkehr (21. bis 23. Juni 1940) mit Pferde- und Kuhgespannen bei der Fahrt durch Lahr; Rückkehr der Evakuierten aus Kehl in einem Sonderzug der Mittelbadischen Eisenbahngesellschaft am Bahnhof Lahr-Schlüssel (26. Juni 1940)


Ladder and platform trucks fully loaded with household items, pulled by horses or cows, on the way through Lahr. Wooden sign, attached to a horse-drawn cart, with the text "Direction home". Train of flower-decorated wagons, pulled by horses or cows, fully loaded with household items, staffed with happy people, on the way through Lahr. Crowd in front of the Lahr-key train station. Cardboard sign "We can go home to Kehl". Richard Burk in front of a special train of the Mittelbadische Eisenbahngesellschaft (MEG) waiting at Lahr-Schlüssel station. South side of the Strasbourg Cathedral. Group of girls, all holding bouquets of flowers, boarding the train to Kehl. Cardboard sign "We thank the leader". Individual travelers at train windows.


Reference / film number :  LFS00236 1
Date :  1940
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Timecode :  00:09:42
Running time :  00:09:42
Reel format :  16 mm
Genre :  Documentary
Thematics :  Borders, War, Second World War : German occupation - Annexation of Alsace
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

Suitcases, mattresses, bicycles, food for the animals - the wagons are overloaded: teams of cows and horses roam the streets of Lahr in June 1940. When the French campaign began and German troops crossed the Rhine, nine communities in the Rhine district were evacuated by order of the Wehrmacht High Command. From June 21, they were able to return after only a few days.

The film, which was probably commissioned by the city of Lahr, shows both the train of the evacuees and their return with decorated teams. But before that, he shows soldiers driving and marching through the streets: a motorized unit with anti-aircraft guns in the sunshine, a mounted unit on a rain-soaked street - troop movements in Lahr that cannot be determined in more detail. The French campaign ('Fall Red') started on June 5, 1940, previously Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg had already surrendered in May.

On the one hand, peace assurances, on the other hand, preparations for war, that was the policy of the Nazi regime after the takeover. On February 3, 1933, Adolf Hitler made a secret speech to the highest ranking officers calling for a new "living space in the East". The goals were far more offensive than the restoration of the German borders from the time before the Versailles Treaty, which after the First World War had obliged Germany not only to disarm and pay reparations to the victorious powers, but also to cede Alsace-Lorraine. On the other hand, the international arms restrictions and controls were to be circumvented with the withdrawal from the League of Nations in October 1933. With the reintroduction of compulsory military service in March 1935, the German Reich unilaterally abolished all military provisions of the Versailles Treaty.

The questioning of the course of the border in the west was not only politically motivated - it was also supported by contemporary science, 'border research', especially at a university near the border such as Freiburg. The signs of disintegration during the First World War were seen as the climax of a crisis that science countered with draft coherence and order: Scientific thinking after the First World War had an impact on the spatial and ethnic reorganization. National Socialist politics was also the violent implementation of these reorganization plans, combined with a new 'Myth of the 20th Century', the comprehensive narrative of the primacy of the Aryan race of Nazi propagandist Alfred Rosenberg.

In an article, the Lahrer Zeitung of June 26, 1940 tells a small, local story of the major reorganization: "Happy return home to the intact village". The "liberating customer" of the German soldiers who crossed the Rhine will be the highlight. With "hard weapon strikes" they removed the "threat to the home communities" in one day. The communities were evacuated only shortly before the outbreak of the fighting. "All of them spent these difficult hours together, they helped and supported each other, they gave each other consolation and hope for a freer and better future under the rolling cannon thunder." The epitome of everything that these people think and feel certain, be the inscription on a decorated wagon upon return: "Thanks to our guide, now we are no longer a border country!"

The story that the newspaper article tells is one thing, the images of the film the other. These moving images capture what is drawn in them - and elude the big and small stories that are put on them. The white ears of the horses coming towards the camera are just as important as the swastika flag hanging on a house in the background. The traces of the real, which are inscribed in the film, refer to the reality that the evacuees' train creates in its movement. This reality emerges in its diverse manifestations: the shadow of a coachman, the girl in front on a team, the upturned pram in the sunlight, the policeman standing on the sun-shining street. The sign "Direction home" then marks the other mood of the returnees, and in the relaxed forward movement there is an indication of a home community that is visible on this side of the prescribed community.

The inhabitants of Kehl had already been evacuated in the autumn after the Second World War began on September 1, 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. "We can go home to Kehl" - the sign hangs in a train window at Lahr-Schlüssel station. On June 26, 1940, women and children in particular switched from a special train to the "tram", a narrow-gauge railway of the Mittelbadische Eisenbahngesellschaft.

  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.