Exodus 1937 to premiere at Derby QUAD

A new film following the fate of five people fleeing Nazi-era Osnabrück, Flucht 1937 (Exodus 1937) will have its first UK cinema screening at Derby QUAD this week.

Director fourteen-year-old Abigail Matthew and her father undertook painstaking research into her great-grandfather, William Hellmeister, who was instrumental in planning the escape from Osnabrück. Those escaping included four Jews who no longer felt safe in the city, and the Protestant girlfriend of one of them following Aryan and Jewish relationships being forbidden by law.

Hellmeister was in the employ of the Jewish / Protestant couple at their scrapyard and together with Friedrich Niehüser helped to plan the escape over two years in order to help them find exile in Amsterdam. Finding a photograph taken in 1936 the director began in-depth research into her great-grandfather’s role in the events, as well as the lives of Jewish people in the German city at the time, and the desperate plight of the exiles when they reached Amsterdam.

The research led to a decision to film the story and with the help of friends and family – many of them also youngsters – the 93 minute documentary was created.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the twinning agreement between Derby and Osnabrück. Formed in 1976 it seeks to strengthen business links between the two cities, as well as encourage tourism and cultural understanding. Twinning agreements became common place after WW2 in order to build links and friendships between countries, and encourage the exchange of ideas and innovations. Belper-based band Sunflower Thieves recently travelled to Derby’s twin city to represent and perform at the German town’s annual festival.

The screening of Exodus 1937 will take place on Sunday 16 July 2017 at 4pm along with an on-stage interview with director Abigail Matthew and members of the Hellmeister family. Members of the film crew will also take part. More information and tickets can be found here. There is also more information on the Facebook event for the screening.

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