I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I found this episode of Heimat to be quite different than the last. In this episode, there is a distinct idea of things changing fast. Paul’s siblings, Pauline and Eduard, are moving away to start their new lives in different towns, his own children are growing up, and the political atmosphere of Germany is radically different. No longer is the action, or at times lack thereof, in the episode focused solely on Schabbach. This seems almost contradictory to the title of the episode, “The Centre of the World.” But we’ll get to that.
In our last discussion of Heimat, we discussed the idea of Schabbach being representative of Germany as a whole. I agree with that statement and find that it resonates in this episode because things are changing so rapidly. All of Katharina’s children are moving past their village into the new era of technology and wealth. Pauline and her husband buy a car and are planning on expanding their home; Eduard marries the Berlin socialite, Lucie. In my opinion, this is indicative of a movement past the “old-fashioned,” as the new ways even force themselves into Schabbach. By the end of the episode, both Eduard and Pauline have returned to Schabbach, even if only for a visit, and so bring their new wealth, portrayed through the form of cars, with them. Even the unexpected visit of the French woman, Denise de Gallimasch, can be considered representative of the new ideas being forced into Schabbach, as it causes the townspeople to reconsider their place in the changing world. For those of you not quite sure if Schabbach is representative of Germany, how would you interpret these scenes? Is the introduction of newer ideas and technology simply the sign of time moving forward?
In this episode, there was also the idea of going away and coming back to home, a theme we’ve visited quite a lot this semester. Eduard and Pauline both leave, and then come back. However, I think that this return is much more a physical return than an emotional one. Although they are back in Schabbach, they both have new ideas and beliefs that directly contradict those of the village. For example, Eduard is persistent on Anton joining the Hitler Youth, yet Katharina tells Anton to wear his uniform. She believes that “the whole world’s living on a tick” and that “one day [they’ll] have to pay for all this.” To her, the new ideas of the world are only a warning of what is to come.
“The Centre of the World” is the title of this episode, yet it seems contradictory to the actions of the episode. Schabbach as the center of the world comes after the arrival of Denise de Gallimasch as one of the men in town say that they “don’t realize where [they’re] at,” and another responds that they’re “the centre of the world.” This brings up an interesting idea as to how the people of Schabbach define their world. For them, their home is the center and everything else revolves around it. Perhaps this is indicative of why the title of the series is Heimat as well? As previously stated, what I find so striking about this scene, and the name of this episode, is that people are moving away from Schabbach and its ideals. I’m not quite sure what to make of it at this point in the mini-series, but perhaps it is suggestive of home being the center of a person’s world: their actions, thoughts, and beliefs. That in the end home is what shapes a person. What do you think about Schabbach being the “centre of the world?” Does it mean something greater? Or does it show the misunderstanding of a people who believe the world revolves around life in their little town?
I think that this episode of Heimat is very indicative of how many people view their worlds. First of all, the scene which Kaitlin mentions, the scene where one of the men in town claims that all roads pass through Schabbach, brings up the question what is the center of the world? I would argue that for most people, like the people in Schabbach, the center of our respective lives is our home. Of course things happen outside of our home (I take home to be where you live, the people who you most closely interact with, and where you go in daily life) affect us. Eduoard and Weigand and their strong support for the Nazis shows us this much, but even their comprehension of these events is fitted to their own personal world. The international events brewing in this episode are enough to make anyone nervous, seeing as we are on the eve of WWII, but the inhabitants of Schabbach still seem to be more concerned with outbreaks of diphtheria.
Additionally, I find Katerina’s take on all of the new ideas to be very interesting. She is an old woman now, her children have grown up, she has grandchildren, and her world is changing. I think you can really empathize with her fear for the new ideas, that they will not last, or that “we will have to pay for this”. It is very similar to how the older generations of today feel about new technology, I think. Katerina is resistant to the change because se is comfortable in her old life, but the change will come nonetheless because that is how the world works. Her story in this episode I think connects to the idea of “the Center of the World” because her center of the world is changing and becoming someone else’s true home. She seems to be feeling almost as uncomfortable as Paul was in Schabbach towards the end of the episode.
So what is the point of showing us all of these things about Katerina? Why is her version of home any more important than Maria’s or the innkeepers? Should we reconsider who our protagonist is? How will these new changes affect the lives of the inhabitants of Schabbach? Will their home become a foreign place to them as it nearly did to Katerina? Or will they become like Paul and be forced to leave?
In response to Clare’s question concerning the importance of Katharina’s version of home, I think that she carries particular significance because she is the matriarch of the Simon family. She is the one to assist Maria with the rearing of Ernst and Anton, she prepares meals, and she even brings a new member into the Simon household, that being Lotte. As this primary caregiver, her worldview often times takes priority.
I also feel that Katharina could be considered the protagonist of this episode, since she appears to be the one who is really struggling against change. While on the train to the Ruhr valley, her traditional clothing sets her apart. So too is she differentiated by her outlook: the electrically lit symbol of Bayer Pharmaceutical disturbs her, probably because it represents a changing, progressive Germany foreign to her humble roots. Likewise, she urges Anton not to wear the uniform of the Hitler youth. In comparison to the rest of Schabbach, Katharina acts in special opposition to the tides of a changing world, one which she feels is changing for the worse, it would seem. Because of her unique viewpoint and central roll as a mother, Katharina’s perspective gains greater importance in this episode.
Kaitlin, I agree with your idea that this episode is largely a movement away from Schabbach as the center of the world. In the first episode, everything revolved around the world of Schabbach. When Paul and Appolonia left Schabbach, it was as if they had both fallen off the face of the Earth. In this episode, Schabbach’s relationship with the outside world seems to have flipped. Much of the change is going on around it in Berlin with Eduard and Lucie or all around Germany with the rise of the Nazis. When Eduard and Pauline return to Schabbach, it suddenly feels like a quaint, somewhat irrelevant town totally behind the times – even stuck in the times when everyone left. It’s definitely a source of wonder for Lucie, who giggles (exceedingly obnoxiously in my opinion) in wonder whenever she does anything to help on their “farm.” Clearly these farm labors have already become a thing of the past for Berliners.
One more thing that I found interesting about Katharina is her attitude towards Hitler. Kaitlin and Clare both already brought up her adamant feelings against him. I found it particularly interesting when she refused to celebrate Hitler’s birthday in favor of her brothers. Katharina marched off saying that she was far closer to her brother than Hitler. If I’m not mistaken, most women in Germany were smitten with Hitler and would’ve dropped anything and anyone to honor him on his birthday. Her disinterest in this further illustrates the movement of the “centre of the world” (in this case the rest of Germany) away from Schabbach (in this case represented only by Katharina).
I think Clare brings up some interesting questions when she asks “How will these new changes affect the lives of the inhabitants of Schabbach? Will their home become a foreign place to them as it nearly did to Katerina?”
I think there is a big possibility that Schabbach will change in the future. When Lucie and Eduard are talking towards the end of the episode, Lucie tells Eduard, “This place is still virgin territory. Nothing’s happened here, but when I make something happen, you’ll see.” Perhaps they will build a villa like Lucie suggests, but whatever they do, Lucie seems ready to exploit the small-town life of Schabbach. That makes me wonder – how will the residents of Schabbach react to changes in their town caused by their own family?
When a man mentions that all of the roads go through their town, it is clear to see he views Schabbach as the center of the world, or at least his world. In response, I see that Schabbach is home to many of the characters however, they view it differently. In the beginning, it was, as others mentioned, the “center of their world”. As people come and go, they are bringing new ideas and beliefs that are changing the town. Katerina sees the changes and has mixed feelings about the direction her town is taking. For each of the characters, Schabbach is playing a different role in their lives. With the changes that seem to be happening over time, how will the role of this town change in the characters’ lives?
Truthfully, I think the role of Schabbach will probably diminish in the characters lives as time goes on. As Germany continues to rebuild from WWI and the members of the town are introduced to more glamourous parts of the world, the novelties that they are introduced to could make their ties to home start to diminish. I also think it will be very interesting to see how the environment in Schabbach changes as Hitler’s power grows throughout Germany. In some ways, you can see Katarina’s statement that “we will have to pay for this” as a foreshadowing to the desolation brought about by WWII? Maybe thats a bit of a stretch…
Going back to what Caitlin said, I wonder if Katharina’s negative attitude towards Hitler will lead to trouble. In this episode, there was a lot of foreshadowing both at the beginning scene and at the scene where Katharina is talking with her communist male relative. They talked about how they thought they would have to pay for the new times and they didn’t think anything good would come from Hitler’s regime. Shortly afterwards, her communist relative is sent off to a concentration camp. Despite this, Katharina is still insistent in her beliefs against following Hitler and the new ways. I think that this may be foreshadowing future trouble for Katharina. As was already seen in Heimat, the Nazis did not approve when people didn’t follow their ideology.Will she also end up in a concentration camp? Or will her connections to Eduard let her slip by as she desperately tries to hold onto the ideals of the old Schabbach?