Kudos to a Bridge-Builder
I just received a message from a longtime Berlin pal, nonfiction filmmaker Rick Minnich, who always seems to be working on something cool and interesting.
Rick has lost a friend of his own in March 2020, a 100-year-old fellow in Vermont named Harry Chandler. Rick tells this story in two short films.
The first film is a 2019 interview with Mr. Chandler, celebrating his 100th birthday. Here, we meet “Harry” — surrounded by several aging sons — as Rick (from behind the camera) congenially and tactfully asks him whether he’d be willing and able to return to Oranienburg, Germany — in the northern part of Berlin — specifically for a special ceremony in March 2020.
Harry Chandler (100) and His Sons Discuss Trip to Oranienburg from Rick Minnich on Vimeo.
A migrant California-Berliner, Rick was representing some friends in Oranienburg, planning a local ceremony to commemorate the victims of an intense Allied bombing there in 1945. Harry had piloted one of the US bombers that destroyed the town, the site of some industrial plants that were important to the Nazi regime.
With his sons looking on, 100-year-old Harry — who had visited Oranienburg in 2005 — said “Sure!” He’d be interested in making it to the March event if he was able. (Harry had survived after his plane was shot down and crashed. Picked up by a German civilian near Oranienburg, he spent the last weeks of the war as a POW.)
Rick’s second film documents the March 2020 commemoration put together by today’s fellow ‘Berliners’, the mayor and people of Oranienburg.
Memorial Service for the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Oranienburg, Germany from Rick Minnich on Vimeo.Here we see current residents — notably, young people — reading the names of those who’d been lost in the bombing of 1945. The list includes the German citizens of Oranienburg, of course, but also remembered, with tears, are the fallen crewmates of Harry Chandler — as well as prisoners of war who were here — soldiers from France and Belgium– and also “foreign laborers” from Poland and Russia.
Best of all — and worth watching both these short films — is the statement that Harry Chandler wrote in preparation for the Oranienburg ceremony. He would have been the Guest of Honor here, had he not passed away at his home in Vermont. Finally, there are the touching reactions to Harry’s text from everyday Oranienburger/Berliners.
All this makes both of these “Rick films” worth watching.
Thanks, Rick — once again — for being a strong, cool bridge between the US and Germany/EU — and sometimes, Russia.
(Here’s where you can learn more about Rick and his fascinating projects.)