Karlowna

HD-Video with surround sound, 20 min

Using the details of my father's war memories, I went on a journey in search of the place of his desertion.

Throughout my childhood my father told me a story, which is likely to have influenced me in my previous walk in the search for echoes. My father, now eighty-eight years old, as a German soldier in the Second World War was sent to the Russian front. In the autumn of 1942 he was sent to Russia near Jazewo from where he walked, as he says, north through marshland in the direction of Velikije Luki near the Ilmen Lake between Moscow and St. Petersburg. He often told me the story of the day he chose to desert and run over to the Russian soldiers where he was later employed designing Russian propaganda flyers. His stories change ever so slightly each time, but he always mentions the echo, which saved his life.

His troop had been in the trenches for two days protecting themselves from continuous Russian fire in marshland near the Ilmen Lake in the centre of a valley. When peering out of the trench my father noticed that each shot was echoed many times and realized that the Russians were not shooting nearly as much as everyone thought and that actually there were gaps in the firing, though the sound of the shots continued. He saw this discovery as his chance to desert - the Germans would be hiding in their trenches and not see him or else would see his run into the apparently continuous fire as a suicidal act. He judged rightly and managed to escape.