Contemporary witnesses who were former ‘contract workers’ in the GDR, studied there, or have personal ties to one of the socialist ‘brother countries’ share their experiences with visitors. During a walk through the exhibition together with a member of the HKW team, they talk about a specific work in the exhibition and provide insights into key aspects of their biographies.

Infos about the film 5.5.2024

Sorpresa (Surprise)

Directed by Thomas Bratzke, Germany, 2023, 26', German and Spanish with German and Spanish subtitles

In his film Sorpresa, Berlin artist Thomas Bratzke deals with his East German-Cuban childhood and the decades-long separation of his German-Cuban family. 

Omelio Espinosa Ramirez moved from Havana to East Berlin in 1978, where he studied horticulture at Humboldt University. He initially lived alone in the Victor Jara student residence in Berlin-Biesdorf and later moved into a student residence in Berlin-Lichtenberg together with German studies student Sonja Prehn and her one-year-old son Thomas, where the young family lived happily. After Omelio received his diploma in 1982 and married Sonja, he traveled to Havana to arrange some formalities for the family’s future life in East Berlin. However, he did not return and was declared missing by the Cuban authorities in 1984. The GDR authorities advised his wife to divorce him, which she did. 

Thomas Bratzke wanted to investigate the unexplained story of his missing foster father as part of his research. He traveled to Havana for the first time in 2018 and found Omelio after 35 years of separation. He documented this trip and the family’s reunion with a video camera. The collected material provides individual insights into the fragile, surreal history of a German-Cuban family.