Lotte’s Journey

Lotte’s Journey

Based on the diary of Lotte Glucksmann, written between 1932-1936

Lotte Glucksmann with the family dog

Lotte is the teenage daughter of an affluent Jewish family in early 1930s Berlin. Her father is a successful lawyer, and the family lives in a large house located in the upscale district of Schlachtensee. Hoping to boost her English skills, Lotte’s parents hire Emmi Kroner as a tutor. A beautiful, educated cosmopolitan, Emmi (27) has recently married Lutz. Lotte’s tutoring sessions develop into a friendship, and Lotte is dazzled by the Kroners’ house: it strikes her as a place of broad-mindedness and worldly bohemian culture, very unlike the humdrum bourgeoisie air of her parents’ house.
The friendship between the tutor and the student soon develops into a thrilling love affair. To the dismay of her parents, the amorous Lotte spends more and more time with Emmi. Her parents do not know that their daughter is having an affair, but feel that she is slipping away from them. Lotte spends most of her time with Emmi and even goes on a romantic ski trip with her. Emmi seems to believe in free love and has another affair in addition to her relationship with her husband and her protégé. Lotte is never quite sure of her place in Emmi’s heart, but is herself completely devoted, although she is aware of the obvious differences in depth of feeling and relative power.
When Lotte’s parents try to set limits on her relationship, Lotte rebels, whereupon Emmi invites Lotte’s parents to visit, so they can get to know her and her husband better. Her plan to build a friendly relationship with Lotte’s parents works out.
Lotte’s relationship with Emmi reaches its peak as the Nazis come to power, Hitler is appointed chancellor, and many Jews start looking for a way out of Germany. Lutz tries to obtain an immigration certificate to Palestine, while Emmi dreams of New York. Little by little, Lotte moves in with the Kroners. When the certificate arrives, Emmi and Lutz suggest that Lotte move to Palestine with them. Lotte considers herself too rational to be swayed by Zionist romanticism, but the idea of living with Emmi in another country appeals to her. She just has to convince her parents, and Emmi helps her. Lotte’s parents reluctantly give their consent; the extent of the emergency trumps their disapproval of the strange relationship.
Lotte, Emmi and Lutz settle down as a threesome in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Rechavia. Lotte gets a job in the office of architect Erich Mendelsohn, but Emmi has a hard time adjusting to the new country. She gets herself another lover, keeping him secret from her husband but not from Lotte. Lotte, who is desperately in love with Emmi, feels neglected and takes comfort in Lutz’s arms. The situation weighs heavily on her.
Meanwhile, Lotte’s parents want to flee Germany but cannot get a certificate, and their precarious future keeps Lotte awake at night. They send her reassuring letters from Berlin, but we can see their condition deteriorate. Finally they do obtain a certificate, and in 1934 arrive at the port of Haifa with their luxury car on board. Lotte’s father Heinrich nurtures an old dream of starting a farm. Despite being a lawyer with no farming experience, and although the family’s car is quickly stolen, he is determined to make his dream come true. They buy a piece of land in Gedera, where they set up to raise flowers and chickens. Lotte, who has gained some experience at the architectural firm, is tasked with planning their new house. With German thoroughness, she even supervises the construction itself.
The love triangle becomes more and more complicated in Jerusalem, and when Emmi has a child, Lotte realizes that she must extricate herself from the entanglement. She rents a small apartment in Jerusalem and leaves Emmi and Lutz. She is finally on solid ground. With her family in Palestine and safe from the Nazis, she is now free of her emotional dependence on Emmi, and ready to begin an independent life.

Extended synopsis

Lutz and Emmi Kroner

Letter of intent

Lotte Glucksmann died of a heart attack at the age of 40. Her daughter Margalit found her diary 50 years later, and was astounded to read about her mother’s turbulent youth. She suggested we use the diary as the basis for a screenplay, and we were drawn right into a story about a girl with extraordinary emotional intelligence, whose life was transformed by the gravest of historical upheavals. We were fascinated by the point of view of this intelligent, vivacious teenager in early 1930s Berlin: a typical specimen of Weimar and Jewish-liberal values in pre-war Germany, Lotte Glucksmann came of age at a crucial time when the Nazis rose to power; but this seemingly common story was further complicated by a passionate and volatile love affair with her English tutor – an educated, worldly woman who was married and ten years her elder.
The duality of belonging and alienation in Lotte’s life is an important theme for us: an initial deep sense of attachment to German culture quickly turns to total rejection; and her life in Palestine begins with alienation and isolation, but then fills with a sense of belonging and control. Lotte and Emmi’s relationship goes through various changes, with Lotte turning from a besotted pupil to a lover who is never on solid ground, and then to a full partner in a romantic-domestic threesome. In a world that shatters all certainty, Lotte’s deep love for Emmi Kroner (and then for her husband Lutz) eventually turns her into the responsible adult. And not only in their increasingly tricky love triangle, but also in her relationship with her parents and her sister: Lotte paves the way in a new land for herself and her family at a time of unprecedented crisis in the history of humankind.
Our writing was accompanied by thorough research. First – about the lives and families of the protagonists (thus we were able to locate Emmi’s children and learn new information about her that could not be gleaned from Lotte’s diary); then – about events that occurred in Germany and Palestine during the years in question, striving for historical accuracy. Adherence to historical facts and the authentic voice of Lotte’s diary are as important to us as the incredible story we wish to tell.
We envision a period piece depicting Lotte’s life in Berlin up to 1933, then her emigration to and integration into Palestine, until her parents’ successful escape from Germany and the unraveling of Lotte’s complicated love triangle with Emmi and Lutz. It is at once an LGBT love story unfolding at the end of the Weimar Republic and in the early days of the Third Reich, as well as in Mandatory Palestine, a unique Bildungsroman, and a fresh look at the values and customs of German Jewry – a unique and fascinating community that went through an awful crisis.
As a couple who has been creating together for more than twenty years, we are interested, both personally and artistically, in defining the boundaries of love and the meaning of “free love”. Given the fragility of democracies around the world, the historical narrative is as consequential for us personally as the love story.

Contact: ymfilms@gmail.com


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