The escape with the bulldozer - a day in the GDR

It is the deadliest border in Europe and one of the best-secured bulwarks in the world: the German-German border. Barbed wire, self-firing systems and soldiers make the 1400 km long death strip almost insurmountable. The bulwark was built in 1952 and more than ten thousand people had to leave their homes. A restricted area within a radius of five kilometers from the actual border is intended to prevent any escape. With the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the last loophole in the West was eliminated. Those who nevertheless dare to flee from East to West often pay with their lives. An estimated 1,000 people die trying to leave the GDR illegally.

Three daring people from a small village near Magdeburg risk it anyway.

Wolfgang Hilgert and the brothers Hans-Joachim and Jürgen Zorn are fed up with the economy of scarcity, paternalism and restrictions. In a beer mood, the young men finally plan the life-threatening escape over the death fence. Featuring a highly unusual getaway vehicle: a rickety and lumbering bulldozer.

Directed by: Oliver Halmburger
Written by: Oliver Halmburger und Steffi Lischke
Produktion: 2022 for ZDF
Genre: Docudrama, 44 min

1806 The Nuremberg Saga

On 26 July 2021, filming begun in Nuremberg and the surrounding area on a major docudrama about the history of Nuremberg.
In three episodes of 45 minutes each, it will be told from a Franconian perspective how Nuremberg came to be Bavarian - from the decline and end of the free imperial city, through the hard years of political upheaval, to Nuremberg's breathtaking rise to become the industrial centre of Bavaria again.
In the three-part series, Bayern3 anchorwoman Kadda Gehret, who comes from Franconia, goes on a historical search for clues that will take her from the here and now to the past again and again with the help of historical scenes.

Written and directed by: Oliver Halmburger und Christian Lappe
Production: 2021 for ARD, BR
Locations: Germany
Genre: Docudrama, 3 x 45 min

Atatürk Father of Modern Turkey

Er war Kriegsheld, Revolutionär und Staatsgründer: Mustafa Kemal – genannt Atatürk, „Vater der Türken“. Ein hoher Anspruch, aber ohne ihn gäbe es wohl keine moderne Türkei.
Im Ersten Weltkrieg wird Mustafa Kemal ein gefeierter Kriegsheld in der Armee des Osmanischen Reiches. Als dem Reich nach der Niederlage der völlige Untergang droht, rettet er die türkischen Kerngebiete und verwandelt den Sultan-Staat in eine moderne Republik.
Seine Verdienste als Gründer der modernen Türkei sind unbestritten, doch der Ruhm hat seine Schattenseiten. Die Verwandlung des osmanischen Vielvölkerstaates in einen homogenen türkischen Nationalstaat fordert viele Opfer. An dem Massenmord an den Armeniern im Ersten Weltkrieg ist Atatürk nicht beteiligt, doch er stellt sich auch nicht dagegen.
Im Innern formt Atatürk die Türkei nach westlichem Vorbild um. Er schafft Sultanat und Kalifat ab und gründet 1923 eine laizistische Republik, deren erster Präsident er wird. Er führt die lateinische Schrift und das schweizerische Zivilrecht ein, durch das Frauen die gleichen Rechte bekommen wie Männer. Doch Widerstand gegen seine Reformen unterdrückt Atatürk mit aller Härte.
Die Dokumentation zeigt den Werdegang eines der prägendsten Männer des 20. Jahrhunderts – mit seinen Licht- und seinen Schattenseiten. Prominente deutsche und türkische Historiker kommentieren die entscheidenden Wegmarken seines Lebens, die durch aufwendige szenische Rekonstruktionen und authentisches Archivmaterial nachgestellt werden.

Written and directed by: Monika Czernin, Oliver Halmburger
Koproduktion arte, ZDF, ORF, Ceska televize, 2018
Genre: Dokudrama, 52 Min

The Myth of Frankenstein
The limits of scientific achievement

Where does human consciousness begin, where does it end? At what point is it presumptuous to intervene in life? These are the questions Mary Shelley addresses in her world-famous novel "Frankenstein" - today scientists are asking the same question again. Equally present is the concern that we may no longer control the spirits we summon. "If you have a ghost in a bottle, sooner or later it's going to come out," says philosopher Nick Bostrom. "So you should make sure that the being you create is benevolent."
"Myth of Frankenstein" uses scenic reconstructions, actual experiments, expert interviews and documentary elements to reveal the history and present of a myth that has preoccupied humans since ancient times. Experts such as philosopher Nick Bostrom, a developer of the humanoid robot "Roboy", Alois Knoll, and artificial intelligence expert Damian Borth explain why Viktor Frankenstein's Faustian quest for knowledge has more to do with us than we think.

Production: 2017 for ZDF, Terra X
Written and directed by Oliver Halmburger
Locations: Germany, Romania, Great Britain, USA
Genre: Docudrama, 45Min

The fall of the tsar

100 years after the two revolutions in Russia, the documentary " The Fall of the Tsar - The End of the Romanovs" looks at the events of 1917 - with scenic reconstructions, footage of original locations, partly unknown documents and historians' voices on the current state of research.
The authors also present an audio document that reveals how the perpetrators prepared for the execution and what they thought about it. It is the confession of the Chekist Grigori Nikulin: "Be that as it may. We made short work of it."
It was a historical caesura not only with regard to the future of Russia, but also of Europe. No European ruling dynasty had made its living environment so pompous and its government so autocratic as the Romanovs. But the First World War drastically exposed the fragility and dislocation of Tsarist rule. The tsar's family met its inglorious and dramatic end in a cellar in Siberia, executed by Red Guards and then anonymously buried in the forest.

Production: 2016 for ZDF
Written and directed by: Oliver Halmburger and Stefan Brauburger
Locations: Germany, Russia, Great Britain
Genre: Docudrama, 45Min

Buccaneers of the Seas - Pirates of the Emperor: The Wolf

The "Wolf" was underway on behalf of the German Kaiser. Perfectly disguised as a merchant ship, the warship sailed as far as Australia and Papua New Guinea in the last two years of the war. Her mission: capture, sink, destroy in order to disrupt the supply lines. The docudrama tells the story of 451 days on board the "Wolf" - from November 1916, when it sailed from Kiel, until its return in February 1918. The fate of this "Himmelfahrtskommando" is told from the perspective of Captain Nerger and the sailor Theodor Plivier, the later peace campaigner and best-selling author.


Production: 2016 for ZDF, Terra X
Written and directed by Oliver Halmburger
Locations: Germany, Australia
Genre: Docudrama, 45Min

Race to the South Pole - Armundson versus Scott

The greatest adventure in history - One hundred years after the first successful South Pole expedition, the film traces the race of Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole.
It is the dramatic story of two men who risked their lives to reach the end of the world - where no man has gone before. When the Norwegian Amundsen was the first to reach the goal on 14 December 1911, almost unbearable endurance lay behind him and his team. One can only imagine the deep disappointment of his English competitor Scott, who reached the Pole 35 days after Amundsen. Scott and his men never saw home again; they died in the eternal ice on the way back.
Amundsen goes down in history as the discoverer, but Scott's death overshadows his triumph.

Written and directed by Oliver Halmburger
Production: 2011 for ZDF
Genre: Dokudrama, 45 Min

Escape to freedom

The Berlin Wall - symbol of the Cold War. For millions of East German citizens, it was an impassable obstacle. To reach freedom, many risk their lives. Heroes are born who outgrow themselves on the run. Against the backdrop of the political events between East and West, this film shows the emotional highs and lows of escape by any means necessary: By homemade balloon, surfboard, ultralight plane or in a secretly dug tunnel. Those who want to overcome the Berlin Wall or the inner-German death strip risk their lives. Many of them already fail during the preparations or are arrested or killed while trying to escape - only the fewest make it.
With every successful escape, the loopholes in the border fortifications are also eliminated. The expansion of the Wall is perfected to the point of madness. How can new escape routes be found to outwit the East German border regime? "Escape to Freedom" tells the captivating stories of the women and men who risked their lives to reach freedom.
Awarded the main prize of the "History Makers Award - Best Production", the Golden Medal of the "New York Festival" and the Japan Prize 2010.

Written and directed by Oliver Halmburger
Production: 2009 for ZDF, History USA, RAI, SBS Australia, ZDF Enterprises

Locations: Germany, Denmark, Great Britain
Genre: Dokudrama, 45/90 und 110 Min


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