Somehow in between
The life of the journalist Karl Pfeifer

A documentary directed and produced by Mary Kreutzer, Ingo Lauggas,
Maria Pohn-Weidinger and Thomas Schmidinger. Cut: D. Binder
A, H, IL 2008 (87 min., german with english subtitles)
87 min, Screening Format: DVD and BETA SP

© Fotocredit: Johannes Zinner

Karl Pfeifer was born in 1928 in Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria. His parents, both Hungarian Jews, had immigrated to Austria during the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. “Thanks to the Austrian antisemitism”, as he puts it, his family managed to escape to Hungary in 1938, after the Nazis took power and the population of Baden forced some Jews of the city to clean the streets on their knees. Pfeifer was ten years old then. By logical deduction he realizes: there is no God if this is done to God’s people. Four years later, in 1943, the Hashomer Hatzair, a leftist Zionist youth organization, managed to get the last children transports out of Europe  - and Karl reached Palestine after an odyssey through Rumania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Lebanon. He lived in a Kibbutz, together with mostly orphan children of all over Europe, whose parents had already been exterminated by the Nazis, and later fought in the Independence War of Israel. In the early 1950ies he decides to return to Austria, “probably the biggest mistake in my whole life.”

But he does never bear living in Austria for a longer period. Constantly he leaves the country, and works in the Hotel trade and in different jobs in Italy, Switzerland, England, even New Zealand. But he always comes back to Austria. Why? “You see, I suffer from low blood pressure. In Austria, I get upset at least once a day and my pressure goes up. It's good for my health.”

In the 1979 Karl Pfeifer, who then was member of Amnesty International, gets in contact with the Hungarian democratic opposition and starts to support them. The Hungarian state expels him four times. About one hundred sheets about him were being kept at the secret service. He starts working as a journalist. Till today, he is 81 years old, he writes for Hungarian, Austrian, Italian, British, German and Israeli newspapers. He never rests.

The no-budget project of documenting his life was started by a group of 5 young men and women in 2005, who founded the “Society for Critical Research on Antisemitism” for this purpose. All of us come from different backgrounds: political science, cultural studies, sociology, history, social anthropology. The common goal was to produce a documentary film that shows the divers experiences in the life paths  - across Europe and the Middle East - of Karl Pfeifer. On the basis of an interview, the film accompanies Karl Pfeifer to the important places of his life: in Austria, Hungary and Israel. Places that influenced his life significantly, in the private as well as political sense. Places in Europe where he was attacked by antisemites. Places, where his political views where sharpened. To follow the life of Karl Pfeifer means to follow the path of the Austrian antisemitism. "Did you ever think of committing suicide?" a young student once asked him "Suicide? Never. Murder? Yes", Karl Pfeifer giggles.                                                                          

The DVD (german with english subtitles) can be orderd by contacting the film team:  ingo@gmx.at (15 € + 4 € shipping = 19 €)