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Film Talk: Amrai Coen in conversation with Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen and Peter & David Hein


Humanity in Action is pleased to extend an invitation to join us for a special conversation among the protagonists of Humanity in Action’s two new films, Two Trees in Jerusalem and My Father’s War.
The conversation was moderated by the award-winning journalist, Amrai Coen (Die Zeit).

Watch the full talk here:


Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen was Senator for Youth and Family of the State of Berlin from 1985 to 1989, Secretary General of the FDP (Free Democratic Party) from 1988 to 1991, member of the German Bundestag from 1990 to 1998 and Commissioner for Foreigners Affairs of the Federal Government from 1991 to 1998. She is the author of several books, including Two Trees in Jerusalem and Russian Summer: My Memories of Liberation from the Nazi Regime.

Peter Hein was an associate professor in obstetrics and gynaecology until his retirement. Since then he is a guest speaker, writer and sculptor. As a Jewish child he was hidden in the Netherlands during WWII, as were his parents. He wrote the books The sixth year about his own hiding and the first year after the liberation and The hiding, on the dramatic hiding of his parents.

David Hein is the Head of the Defence Office of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), an international court in The Hague tasked with adjudicating cases concerning international crimes committed in Kosovo before, during and after the war there. Previously he worked as legal officer at the War Crimes Chambers in Sarajevo, about this and about growing up in the shadow of his father’s Peter trauma he wrote the novel A war to call my own.

Moderator Amrai Coen is a German-Mexican journalist. She is an editor of the “Dossier” section of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. She has received several awards for her journalistic achievements, including the Nannen Prize, the German Reporter Prize and the European Press Prize.

Introduction: Dr. Judith Goldstein, Humanity in Action, and Alexander Busold, Alfred Landecker Foundation

Two Trees in Jerusalem profiles the remarkable history of Eberhard and Donata Helmrich, who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. The pair worked as a husband and wife team in the eye of the storm, in Berlin and the blood-soaked fields of Eastern Europe, devising ever-more daring gambits to save any life they could, even as death surrounded them. The story is narrated by the couple’s daughter Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, who, at the age of six, was called into her parents’ confidence and was imbued with an inner-strength that guided her work as a journalist, politician and Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Foreigner’s Affairs decades later.

My Father’s War animates the experiences of Peter Hein and his son David. As a Jewish child in the Netherlands in the 1940’s, Peter was separated from his parents and whisked from hiding place to hiding place to escape deportation. Decades later, his own son David attempts to forge his own path after his father’s mental health disintegrates under the weight of his memories. The film reveals the hereditary trauma of the Holocaust: the deep emotional wounds of forefathers passed on to children and grandchildren. Narrated by both Peter and David, the film depicts an intergenerational conversation, reverberating across the decades.

The two films, together with Voices in the Void, form the trilogy Traces – Portraits of Resistance, Survival and Resolve.