Word of the Week: Heimat

Heimat is a loaded word in the German language. Translating it simply as “home” does not fully do it justice. The powerful emotional ties it evokes in many German citizens when speaking about their hometowns or home regions would best be described as “a sense of belonging”.

Heimat also, alas, has some cheesy connotations in the German language. Some films popular in the first half of the 20th century known as Heimatfilme are viewed as cinematic versions of pulp fiction by serious film critics. These flicks sought to hark back to kinder, simpler times allegedly free of political, economic or social strife. Featuring bold boys and buxom milkmaids usually found frolicking in bucolic, pastoral settings, they were produced – not unlike today’s more fantastical summer blockbuster movies – to help people forget about the ravages of war, uncertain economic times and other disasters. (An exception to the saccharine variety of Heimat films is the critically acclaimed, award-winning German TV miniseries called Heimat, which is well worth watching.)

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