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Important family events Pentecost 1944 and Eastern 1946


Boy at lunch, children with small handcart, children with grandfather in the garden, girl with picture book; Walk with grandparents, family at a lake <possibly Lake Constance> and in the garden; Title: Poppele / 2 years 27.9.48 / Children's birthday: girl with gifts, walk with grandparents, children with doll's pram and dolls, outdoor coffee table, girl with hair bow; Children play on the banks of the Titisee; Title: That was on Titisee / 2.10.48 / Title: At the fair / 12.10.48 / Drive through the war-torn Freiburg; Visit to the fairground: fairground rides; Walk with grandparents; Christmas: parents and grandparents at the table with wooden toys, walk with grandfather: girl with fur hat; Boy with tricycle on the street; Title: 25.1.49 / 66 years / Winter sports: grandfather on skis, boy on skis //


Reference / film number :  LFS 9322 1
Date :  Between 1948 and 1949
Coloration :  Black and white
Sound :  Mute
Timecode :  00:04:16
Running time :  00:00:00
Film-maker :  Balke, Curt
Reel format :  16 mm
Genre :  Amateur movie
Thematics :  Second World War : post-war period
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

Family idyll with the new child in color (Foto: LFS)

The almost ten-minute, silent private film by the Freiburg architect Curt Balke summarizes the most important events in the family between Pentecost 1944 and Eastern 1946. The focus of the recordings is now on the grandson Peter, born in 1944, who can be seen in many different shots. Since Curt Balke can also be seen regularly, other family members must also have operated the camera. So it's a family movie in the best sense of the word.

The film begins with a sign "Pentecost 1944" and shows the grandson on the changing table, which is taken care of by his mother. She picks him up and puts him in a stroller. Curt Balke comes from his house in Freiburg with a full tray and has his leather camera bag strapped on. He wants to be ready when a nice shooting situation arises with his grandson. The coffee table is set in a shady place in the garden. His son-in-law in lederhosen holds his grandson in his arms. Several times it is shown how the child is swaddled in the summer and lifted by its mother or sleeps in the stroller. For the family, the offspring is a moment of happiness in times of war and accordingly they are often recognized on film.

War Christmas 1944 with a Christmas tree (Foto: LFS)

The date 5.8.1944 is placed on a stone in the garden, and now a color sequence begins. In the 16 mm format, color shots were possible from the mid-1930s, but the film material was even more expensive than black and white film. The images are a bit faded and have a greenish cast, but you still get an impression of the colourfulness of the time. The focus is still on the young family and the blooming garden at the family seat in Freiburg. The grandson is wearing knitted children's clothes. The family's dachshund can also be seen briefly. The son-in-law in uniform comes to visit.

Destroyed house next door: the war is so close (Foto: LFS)
Church baptism takes place after war (Foto: LFS)

On November 27, 1944, Freiburg is bombed by Allied air force units and the center is almost completely destroyed. The neighboring house of Balkes is also hit, her own house is spared. Nevertheless, the daughter and grandson are evacuated to Oberglottertal a little north of Freiburg on December 10th. Curt Balke visits her regularly by bike, has the camera with him and is shooting in black and white again. Together with his daughter in a fur coat, he takes a stroll through the snow-covered landscape with his stroller.

The next text informs: “6. War Christmas 1944/45 ”and Balke continues the tradition of taking pictures at Christmas. But first his pictures show the destroyed center of Freiburg. Such recordings were officially forbidden and therefore quite risky for him. In the next shot, his wife bends over a small Christmas tree in a pot in front of the house. He then carries it into the house. His daughter and grandson can be seen briefly in Glottertal. Curt Balke in a white coat and with a cigar in his mouth sets the table and has a bottle of milk in his hand. The next sequence shows him carrying two buckets to the house. There they are taken over by his wife. The water supply probably collapsed after the bombing and the water has to be fetched in buckets. It's an arduous Christmas with restrictions. Nevertheless, a Christmas tree is decorated with balls and at least a few gifts such as a picture, books, a bottle of scented water and a bottle of wine lie under the small tree. One sticks to traditions. His wife puts a rucksack on the bike with which he rides towards Glottertal. There is also a Christmas tree there, but it is far too dark and can only be made out vaguely. His daughter and another woman come out of the house and go back inside. The next shot shows the architect's house in Freiburg. There is some snow on the wall. Then the completely destroyed neighboring house can be clearly seen through the window. On his grandson's 1st birthday, in rainy weather, he set off on foot in the direction of Glottertal, where his son-in-law in the uniform of a paratrooper is also visiting.

The grandson with a teddy bear in front of the Freiburg house (Foto: LFS)

The time of the film jumps to the baptism of the grandson on October 28th, 1945 and the tablet informs “after a lost war and great hardship in the fatherland”. The pan shows a festively laid table. The grandson is baptized in a church, after which there is a celebration at home with guests. The grandson can now walk, which is also shown by the next images, which were probably taken in spring 1946. There are no recordings of Christmas 1945, which breaks a long tradition. In the garden, logs are cut into short pieces of wood with a circular saw. The conclusion is formed by recordings from Easter on April 21, 1946 with an Easter egg hunt in the garden. The grandson in lederhosen, traditional shirt and cap is given a rocking horse.

Kay Hoffmann

Places and monuments

Freiburg i.B.

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