My Mother, the Manchurian Princess

WDR documentary
A film by Frank Sieren, Martin Gronemeyer and Anke Redl
45 minute documentary
First broadcast: Saturday, 31.05.2014, 00.00 on WDR
At New Year he had to perform the ritualistic kotow in front of his own mother, in the privileged colonial mansion he learned of Chinese ghost stories from the nanny, and being a ‘non-Arian’, he could only associate with the Hitler Youth Group of his school as ‘a guest’. Theodore Heinrichsohn, who everyone just calls Teddy is the oldest, living Chinese-German. The son of a Manchurian Princess and a German missionary is born in north China in 1930. The son does not matter so much to his aristocratic mother. Therefore, but also to learn about western customs, he is enrolled at the German boarding school in Shanghai in 1941.
There he experiences how global politics has shaped and influenced his personal life. The Nazi ideology of distant Germany also reached parts of the German community, and Teddy followed how Shanghai was increasingly being caught up in the maelstrom of the World War II. In 1949 when he was taking his school leaving examinations in Shanghai, Mao’s communist troops marched into the city as victors. Due to the fact that he did not have Chinese nationality he was expelled in 1955 as an ‘unwanted foreigner’ – one year after his father. His mother was not allowed to leave the country; Theodor Heinrichson never got to see her again up until the day she died. For one last time he travels to Shanghai in 2012 for a class reunion. In this film Theodor Heinrichson shows us his Shanghai, whilst being pulled back and forth between the cultures.
The film was so well received that it was once again screened at the German Film Museum in the autumn of 2014.