One year Großväterland

This month it’s about one year since we had the idea to make Großväterland. It was born out of a chat I had with my mother about my own grandfathers role in the Wehrmacht. As he died in 1974 in a motorbike accident I never had the chance to ask him myself.

At first we presented Großväterland as a rough concept it now has become more than just a „project“. So we would like to take the opportunity to give a quick update of where we are, what to expect and what I personally took away from it all at this point.

  • The first month, after we decided to give it a try, were focused solely on the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The official goal of $18,000 was reached close to the end. Due to the chance of letting the successful campaign run beyond the final date, we were able to collect around $20,000 until this day.
  • Right during the campaign we were able to make some good contacts beyond the idea of publishing a book. The metropolitan museum of a european capital reached out and asked to host an event around Großväterland. This is still in talks. Yet there is gonna be an exhibition with talks, images, posters and more in the german town of Minden in the fall of 2015.
  • A lot of people reached out for us to tell their stories and experiences during WW2. We listened to each and everyone and at the end chose about a dozen for a visit and an extensive interview. We had loved to go and visit everyone, but we had to keep our budget in mind. Right now we have fascinating reports from about every major frontline and region. Ranging from the Sauerland to Danzig, from the Ruhrkessel to Normandy. Our wish to cover every aspect of the war was fulfilled. Nonetheless we are still happy if you know someone who spent WW2 as a soldier in the Wehrmacht. Please write an email to info@grossvaeterland.de.
  • Due to private reasons one of the project founders, Alex Kahl, had to leave Großväterland in the summer of 2015. We are very sorry. Of course he will be honored in the book. Thanks for making Großväterland possible, Alex.
  • Sometime in the spring of 2015 we realized the scope of our endeavor and decided to find a publishing partner for our graphic novel to help us out for the time after the crowdfunding. We contacted some german comic book publishers. We can’t say much, but be assured we are in good talks. More to come soon on this one.
  • Finally Großväterland is the perfect example for a project that would never have been possible without the web. Getting in contact with our witnesses and you, our supporters and hearing directly from you what you liked, thought or saw critical, Großväterland took shape where things were unclear. Out of this everyone who contributed to the project, be it via media, comments or crowdfunding, can feel himself to be a part of it.

The biggest takeaway

But what Großväterland gave to us the most and what can be seen as a first résumé is this: Due to the direct and personal contact with our witnesses – be it the war widows, the Trümmerfrauen or the soldiers who fought on the frontline, we were able to get a unique view onto WW2 and the Third Reich. We were told stories we never heard of before and which never made their way into the history books and schools. Even our academic historian Christian often times was shocked by what he had to hear. Upfront many feared, Großväterland could put the learned reality about what happened in WW2, and what we as Germans had to accept as nothing less but as shameful legacy, into a wrong perspective. But it is different: These unfiltered and gruesome stories about human suffering we had to hear added a new and horrifying layer to what we already knew. Abstract events like the battle in Stalingrad or the Ruhrkessel became something very human and tangible. An experience we are glad we made, as it contributes to our concept of not telling the story of WW2 but stories of war.

We’d like to wrap things up for today and get back to our desks. We are happy to tell you that there’s gonna be another teaser image coming up. We don’t want to give up to disclose to much for now, but let us reveal this: the destination is gonna be Stalingrad.

IMG_5216